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It was on these pages, many months ago, that I narrated the launch of the then new Viano being available for buyers.
The Viano is a sumptuously luxurious version among Mercedes Benz work horses such as the Vito range and the Sprinter series. It is aimed at the likes of Volkwagen's T5 Caravelle.
The initial cars were pretty jacked up in terms of pampering, with many a feature that included electric sliding doors, two-zone climate control, electric windows, leather seats and 6+1 seating, or in lay terms, sixn occupants plus the driver.
Some of these options are still available, but the introduction of another higher spec level, labelled Ambiente, now gives buyers two choices - a normal luxury spec called Trend, and the aristocratic exuberance called Ambiente.
The Ambiente comes with many of the items as standard. It can be easily distinguished by its jeweled up exterior compared to the Trend, and chunkier set of alloy rims.
Now, the initial Viano was a sensible thing at best, but it was let down by a lack of a thoroughly convincing engine.
The initial 2,2-litre CDI was good enough, but not adept at the kind of luxury power Merc is pushing with the Viano. That 110 kW/330 Nm 2, 2-litre engine is now reserved for the Trend, while the Ambiente gets a new V6 3, 0-litre CDI that develops 150 kW and an intimidating 440 Nm. Both utilise a five-speed automatic gearbox that sends power to the rear wheels.
That's more than enough power to get you into trouble with not only the law, but with the environment as well.
For the police though, Merc can only advise you to adhere to speed limits. For the elements, there's a safety kit available for the Viano that aims to keep it on the road, such as the latest ABS and traction control devices.
Since the Viano has been tested and earned itself a five-star Euro NCap rating, peace of mind is a standard fitment. There's also air suspension that ensures a serene ride. Throwing caution to the wind, I'd say the Viano now pips its segment rivals. It is robust, not only for acres of legroom, but storage at the rear is plenty. The seats are the best I've seen and are adjustable in many ways, with the possibility of changing them for direction.
Trend costs R346500 while the Ambiente costs R437720.