Mercedes’s Valente has been updated for 2021, with a range of changes to specification and pricing made to the commercial-grade people mover.
The Valente could be called an old vehicle; it's based upon the Vito van that dates back to 2014.
While that sounds like a long time, commercial vehicles do tend to stick around on showroom floors a lot longer than passenger cars. Plus, they get updates along the way. Just like this one.
The most recent update of this Valente has brought a few important changes for Mercedes’s van. There’s a new infotainment display, new look, simplified range and more safety equipment.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz Valente is targeted more towards commercial operators rather than private users and families. However, it still needs to compete more broadly against the likes of Volkswagen’s Multivan and Caravelle, as well as Kia’s Carnival and Hyundai’s incoming iMax replacement, the Staria.
Why? To state the obvious, these are also people-moving vans that are capable of hauling a big load of folk in varying degrees of comfort.
|2021 Mercedes-Benz Valente|
|Engine||2.1-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel|
|Power and torque||120kW at 3800rpm, 380Nm at 1400–2400rpm|
|Drive type||Rear-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||6.6L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||7.3L/100km|
|ANCAP safety rating||Five stars (2014)|
|Main competitors||Volkswagen Multivan/Caravelle, Hyundai iMax, Kia Carnival|
|Price (as tested)||$76,225 (before on-road costs)|
|Starting price||$65,800 (before on-road costs)|
However, the way that the Valente is packaged and presented makes it particularly targeted towards those in the business of people-hauling. Especially when we’ve got one in this Obsidian Black colour (optional, $1515).
Continuing on with the options, we’ve also got Audio 40 with satellite navigation ($700), adaptive cruise control ($1500), LED headlights and high-beam assist ($3060), 17-inch alloy wheels ($780), dual electric sliding windows ($2600), and window tinting ($270), which culminates in $10,425 worth of options.
And with a starting price of $65,800 plus on-road costs for a 2021 Mercedes Valente, we’re looking at $76,225 before on-road costs in this test.
We’ve got room for eight inside the Valente, but there is an option to fit nine with a bench seat up front ($900). But as it stands, the Valente offers plenty of space and comfort across the three rows. It's a small bus, after all.
In this regard, the Valente competes well with the likes of a Carnival, Multivan and Odyssey.
No extra seat or centre console in our tester up front means you can slip through to the second row, and storage is handled by a decently sized open bin below the infotainment display. There’s a 12V outlet here, and two USB points hiding in another storage nook higher up. Cupholders are located atop the dash, along with some extra storage for larger incidentals.
In terms of driving, the Valente is well tuned for comfort and ease of usage, rolling over lumps and bumps with composure. Driving is easy also, with the seven-speed automatic gearbox teaming up well with the torquey 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.
Making 120kW at 3800rpm and 380Nm at 1400–2400rpm, this engine has a little bit more of a commercial flavour going on. But in saying that, there is enough sound deadening to keep things civil inside. This same engine has been around since 2008, and used on a variety of passenger and commercial applications.
Noise insulation is quite good overall, especially when the motor is cruising along at low revs. Combine the black-pack feel, good comfort and black leatherette seat trimming, and you’ve got a premium experience.
And while larger Mercedes vans use a gutsy 3.0-litre V6 diesel, this smaller unit has plenty of accessible punch on offer to get moving through traffic and on the highway. Like most other four-cylinder diesels, it is more refined in the lower and middle rev ranges, where it can lean on the torque instead of chasing high-rev power.
Against a claimed fuel-consumption figure of 6.6 litres per hundred kilometres, we were averaging between 7.0–7.5L/100km depending on how much highway driving we were doing. It's higher than the claim, but it's still impressive.
While the infotainment display is new for the Valente in 2021, it does have an older air about it. Its 7.0-inch display and more basic controls pale in the face of Mercedes's more advanced MBUX systems, but we need to remember the fact that this Valente is more commercial than aspirational.
If you do want all of the technological fruit, you’ll need to look at spending a fair whack more ($84,100–$98,860 before on-road costs and options) to get into a V-Class people mover.
First impressions aside, the Valente’s infotainment display does offer all of the important ingredients through its 7.0-inch display. There’s Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and digital radio, along with (optional) navigation. And for most operators that’s plenty. However, it is slow to respond at times.
Access to the third row is easy thanks to a nice forward-folding mechanism on the second row. And with a little bit of shoulder-rubbing going on, you can fit six adults into the back two rows of the Valente quite comfortably.
Air vents, airbags and lights extend through for all rows, and each seat has a proper three-point seatbelt that retracts back to each seat top.
ISOFIX points are available for the passenger side and middle seat of each rearmost row, which makes four in total. Presumably, this keeps the kerb-side seats free for access if necessary.
And without moving any seats, you can still have a good-sized boot at your disposal. You’ll need to stack high to use all of the load space, and smaller items might disappear under the seat rows. But it’s a big (730L) and useful boot nonetheless. Plus, there is a 12V outlet and light in the boot.
In terms of safety and other convenience features, the Valente has front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, autonomous emergency braking, rain sensor, headlight assistant and speed sign recognition.
The five-year warranty is a good one, but the cap of 250,000km could be outstripped quickly by more serious operators. The warranty comes with 24-hour roadside assistance, and service intervals are set at 12 months/25,000km.
Servicing of the Valente can be pre-paid, with three years set at $2270, four years at $3143 and five years at $3412. This works out cheaper than the pay as you go capped-price program that culminates in $4265 after five years.
This Valente is good overall, and suits the targeted end user well. There are plenty of thoughtful touches throughout the van to help lift the experience beyond a normal van, which lends itself to the application of being a premium people mover for commercial operators.
However, there are a few good options out there that are also worth consideration. Kia's Carnival is always worth a look, even though it's a bit more family-oriented. Volkswagen's recently updated Multivan and Caravelle ranges, however, could be the most direct and competitive nemeses for the Valente.