The Citan is the first model Mercedes has launched into a sector of the LCV market where it had previously been unrepresented since the Vito medium van broke cover in 1995.

This new light van is aimed primarily at craftsmen – owner/drivers and small firms – while in the UK Mercedes plans to challenge the supremacy of the VW Caddy and Vauxhall Combo. In Europe the Citan will also compete with its donor vehicle, the Renault Kangoo.

The Citan will be available in three lengths: compact (3940mm), long (4320mm) and extra long (4710mm). Three 1.5-litre diesel engines with particulate filters will be up for grabs with power outputs of 75, 90 and 110hp, and a 114hp 1.2-litre petrol engine will also be offered. Currently the van is offered with up to five seats but the brand says it could become available with seven in future.

We drove an extra long, 90hp, five-speed manual Citan, which comes with a load capacity of 3.8m3 and a payload of 800kg. The load area is accessed via asymmetrical twin glazed rear doors and sliding doors on both the near and off sides, which, Mercedes says will be standard in the UK.

Commendably, adaptive ESP is standard on all Citan variants, which is not universal in the light van segment. Safety kit also includes ABS, oversteer and understeer control, a traction control system, acceleration skid control and up to six airbags.

Merc claims UK customers will also get a plastic-lined load bay floor, cruise control and daytime running lights without having to pay extra for them.

The van we tested was fitted with Mercedes’ Blue Efficiency package so it included fuel-saving features such as a stop/start system (one of the most effective we’ve tested) and low rolling-resistance tyres.

The dash and instrument panel in the cabin is uncluttered, if a trifle spartan, and the controls are clearly indicated, chunky and user-friendly. The driving position is comfortable and well-supported, too, and the gear change slick and well suited to urban journeys. Meanwhile, the ride quality is excellent – firm and true with no swaying or wallowing in corners – and interior noise is kept to a minimum.

The Citan is a competent, attractive urban vehicle that looks set to make its mark in a new segment for its maker.

Mercedes Citan 109 CDI
Extra-long with Blue Efficiency
Price (ex VAT) £20,000 (est.)
Price range (ex VAT) £14,500-£20,000 (est.)
Insurance group tba
Warranty 3yrs/unltd miles
Service intervals 24,000mls
Load length 2137mm
Load width (min/max) 1219mm/1460mm
Load bay height 1258mm
Gross payload 800kg
Load volume 3.8m3
Engine size/power 1.5-litre/90hp
On sale January 2013
fuel economy
CO2 119g/km
Score 8/10
Verdict A high quality, practical
proposition well equipped
to establish Mercedes
in the light van sector,
depending on the
as-yet unconfirmed pricing