SUVs are absolutely everywhere, but Mercedes-Benz has an antidote for that because the new Mercedes-Benz T-Class is all the family wagon you should ever need.
Well, perhaps not all you need, it’s not a Range Rover after all, and it’s considerably smaller than most 4x4s, but for something that is based on a small van, the T-Class does one thing in particular rather well – swallow up a surprising amount of stuff.
Let’s get the details out of the way first. The T-Class is essentially a Mercedes-Benz Citan with seats. But there’s also a slight difference between a Citan with seats. That's because a Citan with seats would usually be called a Citan Tourer. The T-Class, however, is a slightly different kettle of fish in that it’s a Citan combined with say, an A-Class. So it’s van meets passenger car. As a result it’s brimming with high-class sophistication (well, it’s got the fancy Mercedes touchscreen).
Like its bigger bro the Mercedes-Benz Vito comes as a van, as a van with some seats, or as a way more upmarket people carrier. It’s Merc’s way of making their van range a little bit sexy, throwing some leather, chrome and technology at a van to create something more closely resembling a passenger car.
We'll keep things as simple as possible. You can have a T-Class with short or long wheelbases, giving you either 5 or 7 seats. There’s just one engine for the UK, a dirty polluting nasty diesel engine. That’s all there is to it. An electric only model will launch, called the Mercedes-Benz EQT – following the naming strategy for all of Merc’s electric cars. The EQT will also be based on the Renault Kangoo E-Tech.
Well, yes. It’s a Citan with up to seven seats. Or at least it is when the long-wheelbase model launches and five seats with the regular sized vans. But it’s also got a different interior, with the MBUX infotainment system. That includes a 7-inch touchscreen that has the “Hey Mercedes” voice command system and a whole load of safety systems.
So, the UK will only get a 1.5-litre diesel engine, which is a shame because the petrol engine is rather good and suits a small family car like this, but buyers will get the option of two different powertrains to choose from. There’s either a T160d giving you 95hp or a T180d with 116hp. There’s either a six-speed manual gearbox as standard or a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox which is ideal for both urban or motorway environments.
Keep in mind that the Mercedes-Benz T-Class originates from a van and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Yet, even by passenger car standards it’s a comfortable little runner. The ride is quite firm but not jarring, while the steering is light making it well suited for city driving. Below 50mph it’s perfectly quiet, as you’d expect from a Mercedes. The seven-speed gearbox has plenty of tight ratios to flick between to make the engine feel comfortably in control with plenty of torque on tap should you need a burst of acceleration. The T-Class isn’t fast, though, but it doesn’t need to be, in fact it’s better to keep it below motorway speed. That’s because its cavernous interior becomes a little noisy at a cruise. Full of adults and kids, throw in the dog for good measure, and you’d neither notice or care.
For those not in the know, the Citan van has recently had a significant upgrade and is much wider than it was previously. That means the T-Class has ample room across the front and rear seats with comfortable front seats and three good sized rears seats with ISOFIX points in the outer two. There's also an ISOFIX point in the front seat.
There’s 520-litres of boot space with the seats up, but if you fold them all flat the T-Class can flaunt its van-based skills with 2127-litres of space.
It's not as roomy as rivals like the Peugeot Rifter or Citroen Berlingo which, along with the Renault Kangoo (a model that the Citan van shares the platform with) have been ubiquitous in the family MPV segment despite the upturn in SUV numbers, but the T-Class makes up for it with its smart and upmarket interior.
There’s also the Mercedes MBUX infotainment system with 7in touchscreen and smartphone mirroring, artificial leather seats and plentiful storage.
Ok…there are some bits you’ll find in a Renault Clio around the centre part of the dash, but looking beyond that the areas you’ll interact with most, like the steering wheel, air vents, nav and media player are all their own doing and a cut above the competition in their feel and appearance.
As you would expect from a Merc it’s full of safety features but to keep this short the most useful ones are Active Brake Assist and Crosswind Assist and there’s also the option of adding driver aids like adaptive cruise and lane keeping
Little vans are inherently economical and the T-Class is no different. Expect the T-Class to return around 42.0mpg if you’re to believe the official test. While the CO2 emissions are 147-154g/km.
The electric EQT is likely to be the model that catches the imagination of buyers more than the diesel model does, and should have a range of around 160 miles.
Well, that’s a great question. Unlike the V-Class which borrows the first initial of the V-Class, there’s no obvious link as to why it’s called the T-Class. Maybe we can speculate that it’s T for Turnip, or Tomato or Tangerine. But as Mercedes don’t appear to be huge fruit and veg fans – not when it comes to naming their vehicles – we’re going to assume it’s something to do with stealing the T from the Citan name. After all, they can’t very well nick the C as they already have a C-Class and way back when the Citan was launched Merc spoke chapter and verse about how it was a City Titan and this the name Citan was born. So maybe the T-Class will be a Titan of fancy pants passenger vans.
If you need to do a lot of people or kit in comfort the T-Class could be for you. It's a Mercedes Citan at heart, but don’t tell that to the hordes of lifestyle adventures, mountain bikers and dog owners that the T-Class is likely to appeal to. If you wear lycra at weekends but also need to think about multiple little (or big) people during the week, the T-Class has you covered.