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The new Mercedes-Benz T-Class is a compact van with a big heart

The T-Class is built on the same underpinnings as the Renault Kangoo.
The T-Class is built on the same underpinnings as the Renault Kangoo.
Image: SUPPLIED

Mercedes-Benz last week unveiled its new T-Class minivan. Like its Citan stablemate, this stylish newcomer uses the same underpinnings as the Renault Kangoo and is designed to appeal to small families and active leisure enthusiasts with space-intensive hobbies. 

From launch Mercedes-Benz is offering a standard five-seater T-Class model that measures 4,498mm long, 1,859mm wide and 1,811mm tall. With the second row seating in place the boot offers 520 litres of luggage space. Folded flat to the floor this number increases to an impressive 2,127 litres — enough vehicular real estate to swallow anything from boxes and bicycles to musical equipment and other bulky paraphernalia.

Access is to the cabin is provided by dual sliding side doors with large apertures (614mm wide by 1059mm high) and a tailgate with heated rear window. Asymmetrical rear-end doors are available as an option. Both door segments can be locked in the 90-degree position and can be pivoted to the side at an angle of up to 180 degrees. Later down the line Mercedes says it will bring to market a long-wheelbase variant with seven seats. 

The T-Class is aimed at small families and active leisure enthusiasts.
The T-Class is aimed at small families and active leisure enthusiasts.
Image: SUPPLIED

In keeping with its cargo-hauling capabilities the new T-Class comes standard with a load compartment cover to keep the contents of your boot safe from prying eyes. You will also find six ISO-certified tie-down eyes fitted inside the cabin to help you secure larger loads. Mercedes-Benz have also equipped the T-Class with an integral roof rack that can carry up to 80kg of weight. For customers needing to pull trailers and caravans this Volkswagen Caddy rival can tow a braked load of up to 1,500kg. Unbraked you're looking at 750kgs.

Three flavours of T-Class are available from launch, starting with the entry-level Basic model that gets grey fabric seat upholstery, 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning and keyless start. Customers can also look forward to a MBUX infotainment system paired to a seven-inch touchscreen, smartphone integration, a multifunction steering wheel, an instrument cluster with a 5.5-inch colour display and a height-adjustable driver's seat. 

Next in line is the the Style derivative that jazzes things up with Artico man-made leather upholstery, chrome detailing around the air vents, loudspeakers and door handles, 16-inch alloy wheels and interior ambient lighting. There's also a height adjustable front passenger seat while the driver's seat benefits from lumbar support. Other neat touches include folding tables fitted to the back of the front seats plus tinted rear and tailgate windows. 

At the sharp-end of the T-Class range is the flagship Progressive model, which comes standard with a chrome strip running the full breadth of the tailgate, 16-inch alloy wheels with a 10-spoke design (as apposed to the five-spoke design found on the Style) and LED high performance headlamps. The sliding doors gain electric windows while the upper section of the instrument panel is covered in Neotex with contrasting topstitching. 

Seven airbags are included as standard across the T-Class range as are cutting-edge driver assistance systems including hill start assist, crosswind assist, attention assist, fatigue warning, active brake assist with cross-traffic functionality, active lane keeping assist, blind spot assist and speed limit assist. The driving assistance package is available as an option and includes active distance assist Distronic and active steering assist.

With the rear bench folded the T-Class offers 2,127 litres of loading space.
With the rear bench folded the T-Class offers 2,127 litres of loading space.
Image: SUPPLIED

Engine wise Mercedes-Benz is offering the T-Class with one diesel and one petrol engine, both of which come in two different states of tune. A 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol mill makes 75kW and 200Nm of torque in the T160 and 96kW and 240Nm of torque in the T180. Meanwhile the Renault/Nissan-sourced 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel puts out 70kW and 260Nm in the T160d and 85kW and 270Nm in the flagship T180d. Alongside a six-speed manual transmission, the two diesel models and the more powerful petrol model are also available with the firm's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The new Mercedes-Benz T-Class range is set to go on sale in Europe within the next few weeks. Pricing starts at €30,000 (roughly R500,143) for the T160 Basic. At the time of writing there are currently no plans to bring this compact minivan to the SA market.


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