2016 Mercedes Metris

It isn’t the first cargo van from the luxury manufacturer – the Metris joins its larger brother the Sprinter in the Mercedes lineup this year.Metris4

Smaller and not as tall as the well-known Sprinter, Metris seeks to compete with similar working vehicles (Ford’s Transit 150 and the Nissan NV are the first ones that pop to mind) for the hearts and minds and fleets of people who need a versatile and customizable hauler for serious business. This is not your ‘family van’ right here.

I got the chance to tool around in a tester model last week – not quite the entry-level Metris, but pretty close to base; and it makes a case for itself as one to be considered for businesses and trades people, with solid underpinnings and voluminous cargo capacity inside a highly customizable space.

An interesting thing with the Metris is it is one of the few in its class to employ a small four-cylinder powerplant (and maybe the only one, the NV and Transit use V6 engines). Boasting a potential 208 horses, and 258 lb.-ft of torque that apparently comes on at a low 1300 rpm; the turbo two-litre lurks beneath the short hood of the Metris and dispenses its power with all the smoothness we expect from a Mercedes product.

The vehicle drives and handles well, of course, as it benefits from the same stability control systems that keep the much taller and top-heavy Sprinter stable and upright, and it corners superbly (for its size and shape) and holds up well on bumpy roads with a comfortable-yet-solid suspension.Metris12

The engine felt good and fully capable to me during my time in it, accelerating effortlessly and predictably; but I’ll be honest with you – I didn’t have a load in the vehicle, at least nothing that would put it to a torture test.

The company claims the Metris is capable of towing up to 2250 kilos, which may have led to different impressions; but I don’t have anything to tow, nor do I have 1135 kg of tools or toys to stress-test the stated cargo bed payload capacity.

No indeed, my test Metris was a stripped down two-seater with nothing in the back but a vast empty cube of 5270 cubic litres of highly configurable space.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The front seats – the only seats – are comfortable (and heated) Benz-quality perches with drop-down armrests that face a dash that will be familiar to fans of the German manufacturer’s cars; ditto the steering wheel.

With my test model being near-entry level, there were lots of blanks where buttons would go (buttons that would operate things like a navigation module, for example), but there was a digital speed-display option among the choices on the information display.

Metris11

This is an interesting feature of the Metris – the filler door can’t be opened or closed without opening the driver’s side door.

Paddle shifts adorn the steering wheel, for use with the manual-shift mode the automatic transmission offers (there also comfort and eco modes), and while the steering column is tilt-able, it does not telescope.

Overall, there’s a lot of high points in the new-for2016 Metris, but let me offer a few of the more salient lows:

I know I keep saying my test-Metris was nearly a base model, unadorned as it was, but the thing is, it wasn’t completely the entry-level.

Building on the starting MSRP of $33,900, this one included nearly three grand worth of packages, and frankly still came up wanting in a couple of key areas.

Even with the Cold Weather package, Convenience package, Lighting package and Basic Window Package (and you really want this, trust me, without the side and rear windows, all-round visibility from the driver’s seat is not good, as you can imagine) and some stand-alone options; the van still lacked a couple of things I figure are must-haves in this modern age.

No backup camera, for example. No blind-spot monitors or parking sensors either. Seems like a stark omission to not include these extremely useful features at some level of the packaging that has already been added to the one pictured here; especially at a price of $40,485 (with freight and delivery charges).Metris3

©2016 Wade Ozeroff