Let’s get the jokes out of the way from the beginning. Yes, it’s a small Mercedes van based on a Renault. But, unfortunately, it’s available only in Europe, for now. It’s not the first time this happens. Not the last, either. Mercedes-Benz has an alliance with the French manufacturer Renault for commercial vehicles.
We all remember the Mercedes Benz X-Class pickup truck based on the Nissan Navara. With Renault, the German car brand builds the Mercedes-Benz Citan, a small van for cargo haul. The Citan has received a second generation and, with it, the T-Class. The T-Class it’s the passenger version of the Citan. With premium flavor. Power comes from an inline-four turbocharged gas engine, but two diesel powerplants are also available. The interior features man-made leather, LED lighting, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, and smartphone integration.
American customers in search of a van with a premium badge can choose between the full-size Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or the mid-size Mercedes-Benz Metris (by the way, the European name for the Metris is Vito). In Europe, customers can order a small van: the Citan. And together with the second generation of this nameplate, Mercedes has also added a premium version named T-Class. Measuring 4,498 mm (177.1 inches) long and 1,811 mm (71.3 inches) tall, the T-Class has room for five passengers. A long-wheelbase version with seven seats will be available soon.
Design-wise, it sure looks like a Mercedes-Benz, even if it has Renault’s bones underneath. The silhouette is similar to the Renault Kangoo’s, but many things set these two vehicles apart. The German manufacturer insists on drivers getting that “Mercedes feel” from the new T-Class. So, the T got its own suspension tuning, which is very different from the Kangoo and the Citan.
There are few visual differences between the Citan and the T-Class when looked at from the outside. Likewise, there are no huge dissimilarities in the bodywork besides the bumpers coming in the color body as standard. In the same package, customers will also get the 16-inch alloy wheels.
It’s all very business-like, and this is a good thing. Because the T-Class will be a car used mainly for shuttling people around. It’s perfect for Uber Select, for instance. Or a taxi service.
Mercedes-Benz integrated the company’s style into the T-Class, getting a super-practical minivan with a premium feel. Even if this is a car that might be perfect for a taxi or shuttle service, it might be just as good for an active family. Mercedes did a good job of hiding the T-Class roots. You get a faux leather interior with many surfaces covered in it as standard, which feels great. However, there is still a large amount of scratchy plastic to be found on board.
The driving position is excellent, even if you get to sit quite high. You can adjust the seat and the steering wheel. A 7.0-inch MBUX infotainment system is mounted in the center of the dashboard. Unfortunately, though, it runs an old version of Mercedes’ software. It still has sat nav and supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but it feels pretty outdated.
There are sliding doors that allow easy access to the rear seats and these are very practical when trying to get inside or get off the vehicle in tight parking spaces. For now, the T-Class comes with five seats, but a seven-seat version is in the works. With all five seats in place, you get 520 liters (18,4 cu-ft) of trunk space.
There are some elements that show the Renault base on which this car was built. For example, the rotary switches for the climate control are identical to the ones mounted in the Renault or Dacia models. But the steering wheel and the analog dashboard (with a 5-inch integrated display) are all Mercedes-Benz-sourced. The Germans have also eliminated the right stalk that usually controls the windscreen wipers, just for an enhanced Mercedes-like feel. Hard plastics are still lower down on the dash and door panels. In addition, there is also a good amount of piano-black plastic, which is hard to clean, and prone to fingerprints.
Power comes from a range of inline-four engines, with two 1.5-liter diesel offerings and two turbocharged 1.3-liter gasoline options. The most powerful gasoline engine delivers 129 horsepower (131 ps) and 177 pound-feet (240 Nm) of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, while the two turbodiesel powerplants and the more powerful gasoline unit can be paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch (7G-DCT) transmission.
An electric version, named EQT, is already available in Europe. It offers 282 kilometers (175 miles) of range using a 46-kWh battery. By the way, the EQT will be available with a Marco Polo module specially designed for camping aficionados. All the necessary kit is fitted in the trunk and can be removed easily. This would be a nice add-on to the normal Mercedes-Benz T-Class as well.
The version driven here is the T 180 d with the automatic 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 180 in the model name is no indication of the engine displacement. The inline-four turbodiesel has a displacement of 1.5-liter and delivers 116 ps (114 hp) and 270 Nm (199 pound-feet) of torque. This is the most powerful diesel engine available on the T-Class, but it is obviously not made for speed. It’s a workhorse, and it takes the car 13.2 seconds to cover the 0-62 mph (0-100 kph) run.
But the 1.5-liter diesel is smooth and impressively quiet below 2,000 rpm. The dual-clutch gearbox shifts early for extra efficiency, but you can take control and change the gears manually if you wish. Sometimes, it is hard to move from a standstill smoothly, especially in reverse.
In terms of efficiency, the T 180 d will do up to 50mpg (4.7 l/100km) on the WLTP combined cycle.
The T-Class works better when driven in a manner befitting a van-based MPV. Don’t rush it, and you’ll get a rewarding feeling around town. The suspension is the main element that was heavily revised by Mercedes for the T-Class, compared to the commercial van. It has been optimized for carrying people rather than items. Comfort has been prioritized, but on the other hand, there is some body roll when cornering at high speed.
The steering is a bit numb, and a few systems like the Crosswind Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, and Active Steering Assist will tug at the wheel from time to time. On the active safety features list, we also find Blind Spot Assist, Attention Assist, and Speed limit assist.
As I said before, this minivan is a European dream for shuttle drivers. Or BackCab, Uber, Bolt, Lyft, or other ride-sharing services. It’s classy, comfortable, and offers plenty of space for five people. The rear seats are individual, so another plus for this premium minivan, while the outer two seats feature ISOFIX points for child seats. There’s also an ISOFIX point in the front seat.
It is obvious that you can use the T-Class for a large family. Two adults, the kids, and even a dog will travel in perfect comfort. As mentioned before, there are rear sliding doors, that provide a large opening for accessing the rear seats, while the front doors open at a 90-degree angle, a van-like feature that was kept for the posh T-Class.
There is enough amount of trunk space with the seats up, but if you fold them all flat, the T-Class can really show its van-based skills with 2,300 liters (81.2 cu-ft) of space. It has a normal hatch to access the trunk instead of the two-section rear doors usually found on commercial vans. The load area is big and basic, with a very low loading lip. The rear seats have a simple 60/40 folding arrangement.
The Style Line and Progressive Line trim levels will add some extra style to the T-Class van. The Style Line includes special seat covers (black ARTICO leather and MICROCUT micro-fiber), high-gloss black (or matte limonite yellow) trims on the doors and center console, NEOTEX man-made leather on the door panels, chrome accents, tinted windows, and even folding tables on the backrests of the front seats.
On the Progressive Line, there is the NEOTEX trim with contrasting topstitching on the upper section of the instrument panel. Seats are upholstered in black ARTICO leather.
The T-class has a starting price of just under 30,000 euros, about $31,500 at current exchange rates. But Mercedes-Benz will probably not bring this vehicle Stateside anytime soon. A well-equipped Mercedes-Benz T-Class can go as high as 37,000 euros (around $39,950).
Test Drive Roundup
The new Mercedes-Benz T-Class is a perfect tool for two very important jobs: carrying your family on a fun road trip or making a living shuttling people to the airport and back. It would do both jobs very well. The diesel inline-four will return small numbers for fuel consumption, but don’t expect any kind of sporty feel from it.
The T-Class is not cheap, and in Europe, it has quite stiff competition. Similar minivans like Volkswagen Caddy, Opel Combo Life, Peugeot Rifter, Citroen Berlingo, Ford Turneo Connect, and Renault Kangoo will give it a run for the money. But Mercedes-Benz brings the premium factor to the table, and this will be a strong selling point.
– Comfortable at low speeds
– Premium interior
– A lot of interior space
– Practical sliding rear doors
– Large trunk
– Dull styling
– Outdated infotainment system
– Wind noise at high speeds
– Sluggish turbodiesel engine
– Steep price tag