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You may remember that last year, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia introduced the über-luxurious Mercedes-Benz V-Class people carrier, which raised eyebrows with an eye-watering price tag of RM434,888. If you’re still keen on a van with a three-pointed star, but can’t stomach that significant outlay, there’s now a much cheaper option called the Mercedes-Benz Vito Tourer.

Brought in not by MBM but by official Mercedes commercial vehicles importer Nusa Otomobil, the Vito is priced at RM286,734 on-the-road without insurance, providing a huge saving over the V 220 d Avantgarde. That’s because it’s classified as a commercial vehicle, with 10 seats (arranged in a 2-3-2-3 configuration) – although of course you can remove one row and get the same seven-seater layout as the V-Class.

Under the bonnet, it’s all identical to the V 220 d, with the ubiquitous 2.2 litre OM 22 DE LA four-cylinder diesel engine pushing out 163 hp at 3,800 rpm and 380 Nm at 2,400 rpm. Drive is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed 7G-Tronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

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So what do you lose by paying RM148k less? A bit more metal, actually – this Vito is the longest version available worldwide at 5,370 mm long, with a slightly longer wheelbase than the mid-range, 5,140 mm-long V-Class also sold here. You also still get adaptive LED headlights and LED tail lights that provide this van with a surprisingly upmarket look.

What you don’t get are the classier front and rear bumpers that are exclusive to the V-Class (these ones have cutouts for the non-existent front fog lights), blacked-out B-pillars, the Avantgarde’s lashings of chrome and an Easy Pack powered tailgate with separate opening rear windscreen. Also missing are 18-inch alloy wheels – the Vito gets 17-inch multispoke items – and side mirrors with integrated indicators.

The changes are more noticeable inside – instead of the V-Class’ more upmarket interior, the Vito gets a more utilitarian dashboard design, although the door cards have a similar design. The gauges are also very simple, incorporating twin dials and a monochrome centre multi-info display; the infotainment system is a very basic, albeit upgraded Audio 15 unit with Bluetooth connectivity.

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That’s not to say that the Vito is lacking of kit – there’s the new-style Mercedes three-spoke leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, power-adjustable and heated front seats with driver’s side memory, auto lights and wipers, auto-dimming rear and side mirrors, a reverse camera, cruise control, Thermotronic automatic dual-zone climate control and electric sliding rear doors on both sides. There’s even an Active Parking Assist system that helps park the leviathan.

On top of this, Nusa Otomobil has thrown in RM20,000 worth of additional accessories, including body-coloured door handles and door mirror covers, side skirts, a rear spoiler, velour front floor mats and coil rear mats, an Alpine roof-mounted DVD player with a 10.2-inch LCD monitor, two Alpine wireless headphones and a WAECO centre console cooler box.

Options include an RM14,300 Exclusive package with 18-inch ten-spoke two-tone alloy wheels, RM4,810 black Italian leather upholstery, RM625 front wind deflectors, RM635 locking wheel nuts and V-Kool Elite tinting – RM2,800 for the side windows and RM3,900 for all windows.

Safety-wise, the Vito is specced with front, side and curtain airbags for the front occupants, Adaptive Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), dynamic handling system with ABS, Acceleration Skid Control (ASR), brake assist, EBD and Crosswind Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist and a tyre-pressure monitoring system.

Downsides? Well, unlike the V-Class, the Vito only has a two-year, 200,000 km warranty; however, buyers can service their vehicles and request warranty claims at all authorised Mercedes-Benz service centres in Malaysia. Available colours include Brilliant Silver Metallic, Flint Grey Metallic and Obsidian Black Metallic.