The premium twin of the Renault Kangoo, the Mercedes T-Class aims to tickle benchmarks in the MPV segment such as the Peugeot Rifter and Citroën Berlingo. An ambition that comes at the right time, the Stellantis Group currently only offers its stars in the segment in an electric version. A strategic choice that’s currently not finding an audience as sales have plummeted more than 70% year-to-date.
So a blessing for Mercedes, which is historically almost not represented in the segment and offers a multi-energy offer. When the EQT version is presented from the end of the year, the manufacturer with the star, linked to Renault for the platform and the engine-box assembly, declines its T-class only in a petrol version and two diesels. A sensible choice in that these vehicles are intended for families and riders.
With this T-Class, Mercedes wants to achieve 75% of its sales with private individuals, especially with families, young pensioners and active vacationers. outside, particularly fond of this type of vehicle. Note that in 2023 a Marco Polo version will be launched with a kitchen module with a sleeping option.
In order to seduce, the T-Class relies on its brand appearance, an individual design, a functional and comfortable interior, chassis settings and a Mercedes-specific infotainment system. Manufactured at the Maubeuge plant, the T-Class is the result of Mercedes’ involvement since the beginning of the project with Renault.
The offer is quite simplified. The entry-level model is a 131hp T180 petrol engine that starts at €29,712. Two diesels are available, with a T 160 d class version with 95 hp starting at €30,512 and another T 180 d class with 116 hp starting at €31,812. Our test version is based on the T 180 d Progressive and comes with an optional 7-speed automatic transmission, two-zone automatic air conditioning, heated seats, roof rack with integrated brackets, technology package with Keyless Go, automatic high beam, wireless charging and rear USB interfaces. The price is €39,595
Putting the Stellantis Peugeot Rifter/Citroën Berlingo/Opel Combo life only electric triplet aside, the Class T will cross blades with the Ford Tourneo Connect and the Volkswagen Caddy, even the Toyota Proace City Verso.
ergonomics and design
The MPV segment has undergone significant restructuring in recent years. It must be said that SUVs have swept away everything in their path, including minivans, sedans and city cars. However, after a hegemony of supply, a new segmentation has emerged that is more in line with the real needs of users. The tramp class was specially developed for families and active customers who need a lot of space both in everyday life and for weekend trips or other sporting activities.
We won’t rave about the silhouette of this van, but the proportions are balanced with smooth surfaces and a unified design. Sculpted shoulders and pronounced wheel arches still underscore the profile of this family utility. A standard chrome grille and mirror caps, door handles and front bumper painted in the vehicle color ensure a harmonious overall picture. In addition, there are the door sills with the Mercedes-Benz lettering and 17-inch light-alloy wheels on our progressive version.
The Tramp in the 5-seater version is 4.49 m long, 1.85 m wide and 1.81 m high. A variant with a long wheelbase and up to seven seats will be available by the end of the year. The tramp class focuses on practical aspects: the low loading threshold of 0.56 m makes loading and unloading easier and, above all, a double trunk door is available as an option instead of the tailgate. Each of the doors can be locked at 90 degrees and opened sideways up to 180 degrees.
The standard sliding doors on each side offer an opening of 0.61 m wide and 1.05 m high. The back seat 2/3 – 1/3
Folding is standard and offers a nearly level loading surface. The luggage compartment volume can vary from 520 l under the table to 2,390 l with the second row of seats folded down. On the other hand, we would have liked the passenger seat backrest to fold down completely to extend the cargo area to the dashboard, which is not the case. Shame.
If you need more space, you can use the roof. A roof ramp with an integrated support element (max. 75 kg) is available as an option. A tow bar is also available and the towing capacity can be up to 1.5 tons.
In addition to particularly convenient access to the passenger compartment, it reveals a spacious and bright interior. Storage space is plentiful and we always appreciate the huge storage compartment in the roof or the shelves at the back of the front seats. The outer rear seats and the front passenger seat are equipped with Isofix brackets and there is enough space in the second row of seats for the installation of three child seats.
The assemblies do not suffer from any reproaches, there is no play between the controls, the central console offers intuitive access to the various controls, especially those of the air conditioning. The 7-inch MBUX screen is well placed at eye level, but overall the build is a bit sluggish, there are a lot of plastic parts, and the padding on the upper parts isn’t thick enough. It’s not serious per se, but for Premium we expected something better.
comfort and equipment
Nevertheless, one of the positive aspects of the Mercedes T-Class is that as soon as you get behind the wheel, you will find the typical Mercedes comfort. In addition to consistent ergonomics, the seats offer a soft pad and the backrest offers good support thanks to the appropriate foam thickness. After a full day of driving we had no back pain whatsoever.
Accompanying this comfort, the Mercedes T-Class has been enriched with extensive equipment. Everything is controlled via the standard infotainment system MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), which is based on a central 7-inch touchscreen. Responsiveness isn’t exceptional, but the layout of the menus and their graphics make it possible to offer a pleasant and easy user experience.
The same goes for the instrument cluster, which combines a tachometer and an analog tachometer with a 5.5-inch digital screen. Menus and information are clear. To navigate in it, on the other hand, you have to use the multifunction steering wheel with buttons
touch control; The thumbstick’s haptic feedback takes a little getting used to.
The quality of the reversing camera is good and the parking assistance is effective if you take your time: you first have to select the type of parking you are looking for and drive in step so that it is recognised. Then the maneuver is carried out without hesitation.
While the navigation is precise in its displays, navigation in the map display lacks responsiveness. On the other hand, it integrates live traffic information and the Car-to-X communication protocol, which makes it possible to signal danger spots upstream.
The safety assistant is also numerous, with panel recognition, assisted emergency braking, blind spot warning, attention detection, hill start assistant, stabilization assistant in cross winds, speed limit assistant and of course the lane departure warning system. As is often the case, it is preferable to deactivate this assistant when you are not on the motorway, because of its intervention.
The Mercedes T-Class has 7 airbags as standard, including 1 frontal (between the front seats) and received 5 stars in the Euro Ncap tests with very good results in 4 categories (protection of adults, children, road users and safety assistance). It also qualifies as the best MPV in the “Child Protection” category.
handling and performance
While the Mercedes T-Class is waiting for the electric version of the EQT, it is only doing without its thermal motorization for the time being. Our 180 d test version is fitted with Renault’s standard 1461 cc four-cylinder engine, delivering 116 hp and 270 Nm of torque. If this engine isn’t captivating, it has the merit of being responsive in all circumstances. With the torque available from the lowest engine speeds, the T-Class does not shy away from this task.
Noise measurement at 50 km/h
Noise measurement at 130 km/h
If it is quite loud at low speed (62 dB), it is in the correct average (70 dB) at 130 km/h. Coupled with the automatic transmission, it runs quite linearly and smoothly. The set is quite flexible and comfortable to drive. The work on the chassis is particularly surprising. The front wheels are driven by a McPherson axle with lower wishbones. At the rear, a combi-link axle is coupled with trailing arms. The suspensions are also revised.
After all, behind the wheel of the T-Class you never have the impression of driving a van or utility. On the contrary, save for a too-thick A-pillar on the left, we’re never far from driving a manufacturer’s road car. The guidance of the front axle is precise and the road holding reveals only too tight damping on bumps in the road. In any case, even with an MPV, the manufacturer has managed to find a quite pleasant compromise between comfort and agility.
space on board.
Fixed passenger seat.
Infotainment a bit slow.
Sound at low speed.
Firm shock absorbers on bumps in the road.
How does the classification work?
If the question is whether the Mercedes DNA is actually present in this T 180 d class MPV, the answer is yes. We would have liked a little less plastic in the interior and more modern infotainment, but overall this T-Class has succeeded. It offers its passengers plenty of space and a certain lightness, especially since it is practical in many ways. To top it off, the driver will almost feel like they’re behind the wheel of a road car from the brand rather than that of a family user, even if the cushioning is a little too harsh over the bumps of the pavement. Finally, the engine is uneventful and reasonable in consumption. Despite the additional cost compared to the Kangoo, it remains a valid and relevant proposal.