Driving the Mercedes-Benz Metris
TORONTO, Ont. — The new Mercedes Metris cargo van has been “right-sized” for urban environments, the company says, effectively creating a new segment that provides more cargo capacity than small urban-style vans but greater maneuverability than full-sized cargo vans such as its larger sibling, the Sprinter.
The new Metris, available now, boasts about 50% more cargo volume than small-sized vans such as the Ford Transit Connect or Chevy City Express. However, it’s also easier to handle in tight urban environments than large vans such as the Mercedes Sprinter or Ford Transit. To demonstrate this, Merecdes-Benz Canada recently handed the keys to a small fleet of Metrises to a gaggle of trucking and automotive journalists and said, see ya downtown.
The route Mercedes plotted took us on some of Toronto’s oldest, narrowest streets and had us rendezvous in the underground parking garage of the Four Seasons hotel downtown – a place the high-roof Sprinter could not go.
The maneuverability and handling of the Metris are well suited for this type of urban driving, yet Mercedes was able to pack a lot of cargo-carrying space within the van’s small footprint. There’s a full 50 inches between the wheel wells, affording enough room to place a pallet.
The van itself is available in one size: It’s just over five metres long and has a 126-inch wheelbase. Because of this short wheelbase it boasts a tight turning radius, which will be appreciated when making downtown deliveries or working on busy job sites. The Metris is slightly narrower than the Sprinter and rides slightly lower, with a roof height of 74.4 inches, making it “garageable.”
The cargo van (a passenger version is also available) offers 5.27 cubic metres of cargo volume with a bed that’s 111.5 inches long. A cleverly designed optional partition is integrated with the seats and stops short of the floor, providing additional storage space along the floor for longer items such as ladders or lumber. Its maximum payload is 2,502 lbs and it has a towing capacity of nearly 5,000 lbs. An optional towing package, including electronic stability, is available.
Barn-style rear doors open 270 degrees for ease of loading.
All told, the cargo-carrying capacity is competitive with full-sized vans.
“It comes close to the payload capacity of a lot of the larger vans, but the maneuverability and dimensions make it useful in urban environments where there’s a little less space to work in,” said Curtis Calwell, product manager, Mercedes-Benz Canada.
The Metris is based on the popular Vito model in Europe, but has been North Americanized; look no further than the large cupholders to accommodate our extra large double-doubles for evidence of that. The van boasts a comfortable interior, as you’d expect from Mercedes, and is loaded up with safety features including Crosswind Assist and Attention Assist, which are both standard.
Crosswind Assist keeps the van on course when it’s being buffeted by strong crosswinds and Attention Assist notices variances in driving style that could be indicative of fatique, and provides a friendly suggestion to the driver to take a break.
Other driver assistance options include: Lane Keeping Assist; Collision Prevention Assist; Active Parking Assist; and a rearview camera. Add’em all up and you have an incredibly safe and driver-friendly vehicle for city driving.
An optional package is available that provides a wall lining and floor rails so upfitters can easily install shelving and compartments without drilling into the floor or walls. These items can then be removed later without causing any damage to the vehicle, allowing it to be repurposed for resale.
The Metris is powered by a four-cylinder, 2.0L turbocharged gasoline engine that puts out 208 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s mated to a 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission. There’s no diesel offering available at this time.
Mercedes has submitted its fuel economy data to the EPA and is awaiting confirmation, but claims the Metris will average about 10.5 litres per 100 kilometres.
After product demonstrations and lunch, we took the Metris for a drive north of Toronto, to Uxbridge, and then circled back to Mississauga on a combination of freeways and secondary roads. The van – both cargo and passenger variants – drove beautifully. But is it too nice for a work van? That’s hard to say. There’s a theory out there that the plumber can’t show up at the job site driving a Mercedes because his customer will think he’s being overcharged.
I don’t buy into that. I want the Mercedes-driving plumber working on my pipes, because that Mercedes symbol conveys a level of success, and you don’t become a successful contractor by ripping off your customers. Priced at $33,900 MSRP, customers will have to dig a little deeper into their pockets when upgrading from a Plain Jane work van, but given the Metris’s stylish design and driver- and safety-oriented features, there’ll be plenty who decide they’ve earned it and won’t hesitate to do so.
The new Mercedes-Benz Metris is available for order and is currently arriving at Canadian dealer lots.
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