Mercedes Vito I, the first modern Mercedes van. The sort of man who wants to buy a Mercedes Vito I either doesn’t have internet or doesn’t care much about what he buys, as long as it’s a cheap and reliable van.

Yes, before the Mercedes Vito I there was the Mercedes MB100, but I say Vito was the first modern Mercedes van because it marked the debut of their most famous engine: the ancient, eternal 2.2 cdi common rail engine debuting in 1999. Until then, the Mercedes Vito I had ancient, old-fashioned technology and that still makes it relevant today. And yes, the first Vito is also famous for rust.


I could write a separate article about the Viano, but that’s essentially a Vito made for passengers, not potatoes and general cargo. Although, today’s typical Mercedes Vito I owner doesn’t see the difference between relatives, mothers-in-law, unwanted children and potato sacks. Fortunately for the Vito however, at this money category it remains the best option, because the Movano wasn’t born yet and the Transporter is long scrapped in the graveyard. Mercedes Vito I – the official ” it doesn’t break down because there’s nothing to break down to begin with” van. A living tribute to carburetion and inefficiency, but one that would live on into the next millennium if it didn’t have so much rust.


Mercedes Vito I Engines


  • 2.3 MPI of 142 horsepower – I don’t know how much sense it makes to discuss a 2.3 petrol in a Vito or any petrol for that matter. Anyway, it’s the only Mercedes petrol on the Vito I, and cheerfuly it comes with fuel injection, not carburetors. In fact, I think it would be a really fun engine.
  • 2.8 Vr6 of 174 horsepower  – If you still have bizarre high-speed van fetishes, then this 2.8 Vr6 from VW is just the thing. Yes, ladies, gentlemen, and everything in between, the famous vR6 has somehow made its way onto the Vito. It’s good to know that the Germans have always had a sense of humor, and it’s good to know that you can have a 2.8 petrol, 175 horsepower Vito delivering potatoes faster than any other competitor in your village. Much faster.



  • 2.3 naturally aspirated of 78 horsepower  – An engine so old that the 2.0 SDI in the Caddy, another naturally aspirated diesel, feels like a genuine AMD Ryzen 7 3700U. Either way, this engine is like a bodybuilder. It’ll eat anything, and it can work uncontrollably but it can’t catch mind-blowing speeds. Not even speeds that can get traffic tickets. Not even in pedestrian zones.
  • 2.3 TD of 96 horsepower – Eeee, now we have a turbo, we’re already talking about entirely other levels of warp speed. We even have 18 extra horses ( 3 times as many practically ) and the engine still goes by the logic “it doesn’t break down because there’s nothing to break down to begin with”. You’ll still never go fast enough to be liable for a fine, but at least you can carry as many crates as the rusty floor allows, not the engine’s torque.
  • 2.2 cdi of 102 and 122 horsepower – This is where the famous OM601 makes its debut, which will become the well-known 2.2 cdi. Bolted on everything from the C Class to the S Class and the ML to the Sprinter, this diesel is still in its infancy and has no specific issues to come. However, like any Mercedes 2.2 cdi, watch out for the injector seals although you’re unlikely to care. In any case, this is one of the last engines that will easily pass the million miles mark.


Mercedes Vito I General Issues

  • Rust is everywhere because the Mercedes Vito I was not galvanized. This is the explanation why the Dacia Logan is also famous for rust because it was decided for economic reasons not to galvanize the bodyworkl. That’s why it’s quite hard to find a Vito in decent condition from this generation. Basically, just like my generation in high school, it’s pretty hard to find one that has done anything notable with his/their life.
  • A few wires and those put on for fun shouldn’t bother old Vito. Maybe on the S Class W140, you’re interested in cables, but on the Vito, it works without cables, power, battery, or starter motor. Especially the naturally aspirated diesel.
  • The sliding door rollers aren’t necessarily flimsy but they are so expensive that you can weld the door shut instead of repairing it and make it strictly a commercial van.



Mercedes Vito I Verdict

It’s unreal that you still see Mercedes Vito I’s on the street…sorry, on the road. That’s a testament to their reliability and the fact that they’re used today in rural areas, with maintenance done whenever owners remembers and/or cares, which says something about cars of this era. Vito, Mondeo II, and Passat B4, are cars made to last longer than Stonehenge.


What engines do I recommend? For petrol I will definitely recommend the VW vR6 because it’s easier to find parts for it. As for diesel, clearly the 2.2 cdi diesel of 102 or 122 horsepower which are more legendary engines than Vinnie Jones’ matches