BY BRIAN BYRNE
The opportunity to review the Mercedes-Benz eVito Tourer over a decent period came at a fortuitous time, when family from the US and Germany came in to celebrate Christmas with us here in Ireland.
It was, in fact, the first time in 10 years that we had all been together at Christmas.
Why fortuitous? Because the eVito Tourer is a nine-seater passenger version of the Mercedes Vito Van.
The nine seats were going to be very useful to help shuttle those staying directly with us between airport, home and the homes of their siblings. I suppose that made me an e-chauffeur?
The eVito Tourer in shuttle format is designed for such applications as hotel transfers, conference transport, and similar (there is a higher-level version with eight seats and a more upmarket specification which can be used as a luxury limo for touring).
The review car came with all the demonstrator decals ‘driving the electric future’, so it was also going to attract attention in my home area ... as well as it did at my local Circle K e-car charging station.
Other EV owners certainly had questions and curiosities, which helped to pass the time while the kWs were charging in. From the outset, the eVito Tourer certainly felt much more than the van on which it is based. The interior offered a much more car-like ambience thanks to the instruments and controls that clearly came from the car side of the business ... although not the current MBUX digital affairs now through all the company’s true passenger cars.
The seats were individual and adjustable, apart from the dual passenger seat in front which had fixed backrests reflecting the situation in the van.
My driver’s one was fully adjustable and had heating.
Access to the middle and rear seat sets was via the sliding side doors, with a tip-over of the end middle seat allowing easy entry to the back row.
As the vehicle is on the longer-wheelbase version of the van, roominess for all those passengers in the back was excellent.
There was nothing van-like about the ride and handling, probably in part to the underfloor weight of the 90kWh battery.
But that same weight didn’t lead to any heaviness of feel in driving the eVito Tourer, either.
And it was also a very quiet driving experience, showing the road-sound mitigation has been really well-managed here.
The power unit is not the one used in the eVito Van, which has a much shorter range. Instead it has been given the running gear and range of the EQV V-Class, the rather larger and more salubrious electric people carrier.
The fact that in most cases during this review period there were at least six of us aboard made it a real-life test.
For our unusually large three-generation extended family, it was quite the appropriate transport option.
A significant proportion of my driving was on motorways, which is hardest on the range of an EV.
But the eVito Tourer proved quite frugal on the kWhs event there, and certainly when on urban and minor roads the regeneration capability of the car — flicking the paddles between coast and Economy+ levels as required — the range achieved was impressive.
Officially on WLTP, Mercedes-Benz suggest up to 350km is possible from a full charge.
I found over the period it was closer to 300km, reflecting the fairly full load and that afore-mentioned motorway travel.
I suspect in its planned guise as a local shuttle, there would be better distance possible.
But the 300km range was quite adequate for all that we did over Christmas, and though I have no charge unit at home — therefore having to sometimes jockey for a place at my local motorway services — I can’t say I had any range anxiety for the duration.
I still don’t have a price for the eVito Tourer, but it will come along in due course.
It won’t be cheap, but may well be a viable option for the environmentally conscious establishment that has to move small groups of people around throughout the day. Meantime, it certainly made Christmas transport a very manageable operation for this correspondent’s temporarily enlarged family.