24/10/2008 00:00 | By Dan Trent, contributor, MSN Cars

Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport X review (2007-2011)

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Mercedes Vito Sport-X (© Mercedes)

Model: Mercedes-Benz Vito Dualiner 120 CDI Sport X
Bodystyle: five-door van
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel
Transmission: five-speed auto, rear-wheel drive

What is it?

Mercedes Vito Sport X (© Image © Mercedes)

Well, at first glance it's just a ruded up Mercedes Vito van wearing some tasty Brabus wheels. Nothing wrong with that in itself but what's it doing here? Well, if you're looking for truly versatile family transport or the ultimate lifestyle accessory but SUV running costs are looking scary this could be your knight in shining (bright red) armour.32mm shorter and 10mm narrower than an ML, the Vito's on-road footprint is smaller than you might think. And with a detuned version of the same super smooth V6 diesel engine found in the ML320 CDI it's got plenty of grunt too. With five proper seats (and space for more) it can do the family car thing as well as the bona fide load lugger.

GALLERY: Mercedes Vito Sport X
Read more Mercedes Benz car reviews

Where does it fit?

Mercedes Vito Sport X (© Image © Mercedes)

Well, in van terms this Vito officially counts as compact, even if it clearly dwarfs any conventional family car. And compared with its ultilitarian brethren this really is the deluxe model, the lairy looking Sport X boasting most un-van like luxuries such as leather upholstery, an automatic gearbox, Comand sat-nav, iPod connectivity and so on.So when it comes to creature comforts it really demands few compromises from those accustomed to conventional cars. And while the £27K pricetag is steep in commercial vehicle terms compared with the £40K-plus Mercedes charges for an E-Class estate or ML using the same engine it begins to look like something of a bargain.

Is it for you?

Mercedes Vito Sport X (© Image © Mercedes)

If you or your family have a sport or pastime involving hauling about large amounts of gear then the Vito's appeal is obvious enough. We loaded it up with five mountain bikes and enough gear for a week in the alps but snowboards, surfing gear or any number of sporting accessories could easily be swallowed by the huge boot.For motorsport fans the Vito's ability to haul over two tonnes means a trackday car or trailer full of motorcross bikes won't trouble the muscular V6 too much, with the van's interior providing space for gear, spares and - at a push - basic living accommodation for a weekend away. A workhorse Monday to Friday and a weekend plaything in one, the Vito can do it all.

What does it do well?

Mercedes Vito Sport X (© Image © Mercedes)

Fancy trimmings can't disguise the commercial vehicle origins but the Sport X does everything it can to ease your acclimatisation. You sit high and straight-backed but the seats are dead comfy and the multi-function wheel and Comand infotainment system will be familiar to any Merc driver.The ultra-slick five-speed auto also makes life easy and in the powerful and very refined V6 diesel motor it's got its perfect partner. It goes like absolute stink, with a hot-hatch baiting 0-62mph time of 8.3 seconds and power enough to make long distance motorway cruising an absolute doddle - this thing just eats the miles up.

What doesn’t it do well?

Mercedes Vito Sport X (© Image © Mercedes)

It may be tarted up with all the toys but the Sport X is still based on a commercial vehicle and those accustomed to passenger car fit and finish are going to be disappointed. It's all tough and no nonsense but there's a lot of grey plastic around and the vinyl flooring adds to the utilitarian air.Refinement is also several notches down from what you'd get in an equivalent conventional car, the tyre roar from the big 18-inch rubber resonating through the cavernous interior and especially intrusive at motorway speeds. And whatever the numbers say about it being smaller than a ML, it does feel cumbersome at times.

What's it like to live with?

Mercedes Vito Sport X (© Image © Mercedes)

If you can live with this and want the perfect addition to your active sporty lifestyle the Vito is just the job. There is a certain snobbery against vans but the Mercedes badge and sleek looks just about bridge the divide and you could conceivably use it as day-to-day transport. Just make sure you spec parking radar.The size and van origins might appear intimidating to first timers but it doesn't take long at the wheel to realise the Vito is incredibly user friendly and you soon find yourself flinging it about with unexpected abandon. And the luggage space and long distance comfort open up all sorts of possibilities for exciting weekends away.

How green is it?

Mercedes Vito Sport X (© Image © Mercedes)

In real terms not especially. Given the huge number of possible configurations on offer in any commercial vehicle line-up car-like CO2 ratings make less sense and manufacturers don't have to publish them. For the record the related Viano people carrier with the same engine pumps out 299g/km of CO2.The equivalently engined ML320 CDI and E320 CDI estate emit 249g/km and 202g/km respectively but you get the last laugh when it comes to VED. While the ML will cost over £400 to tax the Vito will only set you back £120 a year. Meanwhile fuel consumption is comparable with a large, diesel engined SUV, with mid to high 20s on a cruise and 30-plus possible when pootling.

Would we buy one?

Mercedes Vito Sport X (© Image © Mercedes)

Absolutely. It might be pretty aggressive looking but there's something appealingly classless about driving round in the Vito Sport X and you won't come in for anything like the grief you'd get in a big SUV. And in purely practical terms it does the same job - and more so - at a fraction of the cost.And if your pastime of choice means carrying a lot of gear and driving long distances the appeal is obvious enough. It's also very easy to drive and comfortable to boot, making it equally at home on the school run or as an everyday family car. That might be stretching credibility for some people but if there's room in your life for a van it'd be hard to think of anything better.

GALLERY: Mercedes Vito Sport X
Read more Mercedes Benz car reviews
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