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2014 Mercedes-Benz Viano Review: Speed Date
James Ward
Quick Specs
$81,115 (plus on-road costs)
3-year, unlimited KM
Read the full review

So, where did you go on your date?

Part Uber driver, part VIP shuttle - all dad... I took Miss Six and three squealing friends to ballet practice, followed by a sensible Saturday breakfast.

The power-sliding door on the Mercedes-Benz Viano was an instant hit, as was the 'poker table' seating configuration (three-facing-three). A fun (for them) session of scrambled eggs and milkshakes - rolling up like a segment from TMZ.

Ideal first date?

We've all heard the story of the lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls. And the man, who's name escapes me, who was busy with three boys of his own.

Then that one day when the lady met that fellow, and they knew it was much more than a hunch - the group must somehow form a family... and would need a bigger car than everyone else.

Larger, conjoined families aren't just a theme for a sixties sitcom any more - there are plenty of reasons to look to the sliding door for a practical solution to a bigger family bunch.

Hot or not?

As the road-going equivalent of a two-slice toaster, the Viano is at the DeLonghi end of a market dominated by white Kambrook numbers. It's a good looking bus.

Our test car, in 'all black everything' Kanye spec does look suitably VIP. I'm not sure it really works as a personal vehicle though, the limo-tint windows and imposing size do make you look a little more 'professional'.

It's what's inside that counts, what do you think of the interior?

Up front, the Viano's commercial vehicle background is very apparent. The driving position and spartan cabin are very much business before pleasure - you sit much higher than in an SUV or MPV and the dash-mounted gear shifter is a surprise given Mercedes' fondness for column-shifts.

That said, the switchgear and surfaces are typical Mercedes quality. The buttons and stalks have been largely lifted from Benz passenger vehicles and the seats are plush and comfortable. The wacky dark-wood trim is questionable though - it looks cheap and is quite tacky. Piano-black or even 'actual' wood might have been better.

Standout features?

As a van, the hero point is the passenger bay.

The two-sets of 60/40 piece benches can be configured to face forward, or face each other. All three seats, on each bench, can be folded individually, offering neat little tables in the middle of twin-sets of two seats (for when Greg and Marsha go to Hawaii for example). The seats are all comfortable and luxurious and there is ample legroom and shoulder room to fit six adults. The doors are power operated (from the driver's seat or keyfob) and there are cup holders, power sockets and storage bins throughout.

The rear bench can be folded forward easily to allow more luggage space. But here's a tip - don't try and alter the seat layout on your own. There's no tricky flip-and-fold origami moves here - the seats need to be removed and re-fitted to their rails, and given the weight - is a job for two people.

Annoying habits?

To pick on the Mercedes-Benz Viano for 'driving like a van' would be unfair - it is, afterall, a van. My issue with the Viano was working as a personal vehicle and not a commercial one.

There's no USB point to connect or charge a phone (an interface is optional from Mercedes-Benz), it's not particularly exciting or friendly to live with every day. It is what it is - but that's it.

Ready for a family?

If transporting up to seven passengers in luxury (you can actually option the third row with four-across for a total of nine seats - so Alice can come too) is your reason for being, then the Viano gives you all the space with all the comfort you need. It's a piece of equipment rather than part of the family though, so don't expect to include the car in your family Christmas photo.

High maintenance?

That three-point star on the front provides more than carpark credibility - the Viano is a solid and reliable platform. We saw fuel economy just over 9L/100km (Mercedes claim 8.6L/100km for a combined cycle) and the Viano has a three-year unlimited kilometer warranty.

Plus - given the fresh-look 2016 V-Class has been announced with pricing from $85,500 (plus on roads), grabbing a run-out 2015 Viano can see you on-road for under $80,000 - which is a lot of Merc for your money.

Any deal-breakers?

If I was in the market for a giant, black rectangle - the Viano is a pretty complete package. But for me, ol' two-slice is just too big and too impersonal for daily transport.

So, is it serious or just a one night stand?

I do love a van, and while it was more A-Team than Mystery Machine in terms of fun, the Viano was a bit of a jolly. That said - I don't miss it.

Keeping your options open?

In this space, there is the Volkswagen Multivan and even sister Mercedes-Benz Valente and Vito vans. The Viano is the best-dressed though, and about to be replaced by a much more modern and stylish V-Class for 2016.

If it's not for you, who would you recommend it to?

If you love the idea of driving along having people wonder if it's Kim and Kanye inside (when in fact Bobby, Cindy, Peter, Jan, Marsha and Greg are all dishing out another hand of canasta), then perhaps the Viano is your thing.

In reality, the Mercedes-Benz Viano makes sense if you regularly need to shift up to eight adults in comfort, but as an alternative to purpose-built family MPVs, the size and 'van-ness' of the Viano may prove a bit cumbersome.