Amenagement-Utilitaire-Sportif_Mercedes-Vito

What should be a SUV?


A wrong denomination

.

SUV_actual-sport-utility-vehicleWhat we call a Sport Utility Vehicle isn’t one. This is kind of a 4WD made of plastic with a small loading capacity. How can such a vehicle be considered as a Sport Utility Vehicle?

Here’s come an interesting mission for me: Developing an authentic SUV fully functional to meet the expectations of the outdoor sport enthusiasts who like me own heavy or large equipment or dream to be mobile and self-sufficient.

.

.

What is the best van for this project?

 .

SUV_Renault-Trafic-2014There are different kinds of utility vehicles. However only one type can match the way I want to use it. A compact utility vehicle allows a wide range of applications and makes everyday use easier as well as vehicle maintenance. Those Compact utility vehicles are under 5m long and 2m high (allowing car park access and toll road with 2m barrier). There are two to three seats at the front and the loading capacity is about 5m3. Since I don’t have a family yet, 3 seats are more than enough!

.

SUV_renault-trafic_interiorThe second most important criteria concerns the loading area that must be as square as possible to make the implementation of the furniture and accessories easier. The Renault Trafic is today the best design example. The cabin also gets a lot of storage accessories.

To save a lot of money, I decided on buying a second hand van. Therefore durability is an important aspect in my choice and at bargain prices, only a very few vehicles should be considered. For this reason, I removed Renault and its subsidiaries as well as Citroën and Peugeot from my list (awful design).

I don’t like Renault vehicles because they only match two criterias: fuel savings and design. However, what is the point of having reasonable gas consumption if, on the other hand, you encounter mechanical issues from 100,000km (usually for the second car owner)?

How can you get as much horse power and Torque with a small gas consumption? This is easy: 1.6L 160HP so that’s 100HP for 1000cm3. Nonetheless this is not a bike engine but a 2 tons empty van! You apply so much pressure onto mechanical parts to reach the performance of a 2L engine that wear and tear is bounded to happen faster. Hi-pressure bi-turbo, limited heat evacuation coming from combustion chambers, different alloys expanding at different speed, … That’s even more important since a compact utility vehicle is design to carry up to 1 ton .

Renault_1.6-DCI-160

After I analyzed strengths and weaknesses from the ten best compact utility vehicles, I stopped my choice on the Mercedes Vito produced between 1996 and 2003 with the 2.2L 112 CDI engine.

It has perfect dimensions, offers an interesting loading capacity to carry bikes, kayaks, surfboards and it’s almost square. It’s a front wheels drive and its engine is reliable and full of torque to go up the mountains. However its gas consumption is more important in reason of the volume of its engine.

 .

.

A perfect match

.

Amenagement-Utilitaire-Sportif_Mercedes-VitoI spent many weeks looking for this exact model on second hand websites. Two months later, I found a Mercedes Vito 112 CDI first registered in 1999. Half an hour after the ad appeared, I reserved the vehicle and bought it the following day.

This compact utility vehicle has already a long story to tell since I became its fourth owner. First of all it started its life as an ambulance until 2005. A standard engine replacement happened at 168000km in 2003 to give it a second breath. From 2005 to 2014, its second owner (who does MX) customized its look by adding a car body set, smocked windows and sublime 17″ alloy wheels. The third owner didn’t have much time to spend on the van since he was busy with his project. He only drove 50km in 8 months. When I faced the vehicle, I discovered a flawless van considering its price with 315,000km on the dashboard and a 150,000km engine. I fixed some electrical, mechanical and car body issues and started to focus on the inside after a couple of weeks.

 .

.

My SUV view

 .

On the actual market you have two types of utility vehicle: either for professionals or likened to a camping-car. Nobody offers two birds in a row and this is where my challenge starts. My SUV design must provide enough space to carry our sport equipment such as a mountain bike and the comfort of a camping car to live in it. My goal through this project is to answer in a professional way to the outdoor sport athlete expectations encountered during a typical trip. Each one of the accessories you’ll discover next time will be available for sale and adaptable on your utility vehicle.

In my next article
I’ll broach the developing steps inside my Mercedes Vito 112 CDI.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>