Pretty poor all round
Lots of adjustment for the driving position and the dash is easy to use
There should be better safety provision, especially for an MPV
Tried and tested engines shouldn't pose any problems, and build feels pretty solid
Seats up to eight but heavy seats limit its versatility
Good enough but not outstanding, with even parking sensors a cost option
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.
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.
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.
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.