Mercedes-Benz Viano

The Essentials

  • Price from £36,155
  • What Car? says: 1 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 38.7mpg
  • What is it? The Mercedes Viano is the way to move really big families, but that's where its talent stops

Great

  • The Viano can take up to eight passengers and there's a choice of body lengths and seating arrangements
  • Entry-level model is decently equipped
  • Sliding doors help with rear access

Gripes

  • It's expensive, especially when it's van roots are so obvious
  • The engines need to be worked hard, which makes them noisy
  • The interior isn't flexible enough and there are no airbags in the rear
  • Drive

    Pretty poor all round

  • Inside

    Lots of adjustment for the driving position and the dash is easy to use

  • Safety

    There should be better safety provision, especially for an MPV

  • Reliability

    Tried and tested engines shouldn't pose any problems, and build feels pretty solid

  • Space

    Seats up to eight but heavy seats limit its versatility

  • Standard and extras

    Good enough but not outstanding, with even parking sensors a cost option

  • What's it like to drive?

    The Mercedes Viano is a large, heavy MPV, and although the two 2.1-litre diesel engines (a 134bhp badged 2.0 CDI and a 161bhp badged 2.2 CDI) provide decent strength, they're not quick and, because you need to rev them a lot to get a move on, they're noisy at low speeds. The 221bhp 3.0 V6 diesel provides more pace. Most versions come as a five-speed automatic as standard with the option of a six-speed manual gearbox, although the 3.0-litre is auto only and you can't specify the cheapest engine with the cheapest trim. The Viano is surprisingly easy to manoeuvre, thanks to a neat turning circle, but it feels its size on fast bends. A lot of road imperfections can be felt in the cabin, so the ride is pretty uncomfortable.

  • What's it like inside?

    The interior isn't particularly classy but the dashboard and centre console are sensibly laid out and cabin stowage is excellent. However, visibility is hampered by the thick front pillars.

    There's a choice of body lengths and, while there are seven seats as standard, you can specify six or eight to allow for more passengers or more space for them. The rear doors slide to help with rear access and you can move the rearmost seats back and forth to adjust the bias for passengers or boot space. However, the seats are heavy to slide or remove, so the Viano isn't as user-friendly as many rivals, whose seats fold flat into the floor.

    Unlike many seven-seaters, two Isofix points are offered on both the middle and rearmost rows of seats, regardless of the configuration you have; bear in mind, however, that on three-seat benches these are on the middle and adjacent outer seats so space for two child seats may be limited. Middle-row Isofix seats also have top-tether points.

    Entry-level Ambiente trim is generous, including alloys, leather and Bluetooth. Sport adds firmer suspension and sporty details while Avantgarde brings other aesthetic additions and six luxury seats. However, too many features remain on the options list for all models, including parking sensors and sat-nav.

  • How reliable is it?

    The Viano seems generally well built, and though some of the lower plastics feel a bit flimsy, overall the Viano feels robust enough to deal with family life. All models come with stability control and emergency brake assist, but rear curtain airbags are a cost option, even in the eight-seat version. Also, you can't manually disable the front passenger airbag; the only way to do this is by using a Mercedes-branded child seat which carries a transponder that is recognised by the car and automatically switches off the airbag here. All models have an alarm and immobiliser.

  • Should I buy one?

    The Viano is extremely expensive compared with rivals, and the prices look even steeper when you consider that it's essentially a van with windows and seats. Dealers do offer discounts but resale values aren't very strong, despite the premium badge. All versions manage more than 30mpg but that's not great compared with rivals, either. The same goes for CO2 emissions.