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First drive: Mercedes-Benz T-Class

Date: 23 June 2022   |   Author: George Barrow

The T-Class is more than a posh Mercedes van, it's a spacious alternative to an MPV.
Standard equipment:
16in alloys, LED headlights, artificial leather seats, 7in touchscreen, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, air conditioning, keyless start, LED interior lights.
Diesel: 95hp, 1.5, 116hp 1.5
Six-speed manual, seven-speed automatic

It is tough keeping up with the endless stream of crossover SUVs finding their way to market, and Mercedes-Benz has been amongst the biggest perpetrators of the pumped-up passenger car, adding a GL badge ahead of most of their letters to snatch a portion of the premium soft-roader market. But Mercedes is also rather good at sexing up their commercial vehicles too, and in a world where the MPV has died a slow and painful death, Merc is bringing it back with its latest van-based car, the T-Class.

It is a Mercedes Citan at heart, but don't tell that to the hordes of lifestyle adventures, mountain bikers and dog owners that the T-Class is likely to appeal to. If you wear lycra at weekends but also need to think about multiple little (or big) people during the week, the T-Class has you covered with a five-seater short-wheelbase model coming this summer and a seven-seat version in 2023. 

For those not in the know, the Citan van has recently had a significant upgrade and is much wider than it was previously. That means the T-Class has ample room across the front and rear seats with comfortable front seats and three good sized rears seats with ISOFIX points in the outer two. There is 520-litres of boot space with the seats up, but if you fold them all flat the T-Class can flaunt its van-based skills with 2,127-litres of space. It's not as roomy as rivals like the Peugeot Rifter or Citroen Berlingo which, along with the Renault Kangoo (a model that the Citan van shares the platform with) have been ubiquitous in the family MPV segment despite the upturn in SUV numbers, but the T-Class makes up for it with its smart and upmarket interior. 

Mercedes has dealt the T-Class a fine hand to play thanks to the Mercedes MBUX infotainment system with 7in touchscreen and smartphone mirroring, artificial leather seats and plentiful storage. Granted there are some bits you will find in a Renault Clio around the centre part of the dash but looking beyond that the areas you will interact with most, like the steering wheel, air vents, sat-nav and media player are all their own doing and a cut above the competition in their feel and appearance. 

It's a fundamentally practical car with a splash of Mercedes quality but what about the all-important driveline? 

In Europe you can have the T-Class with petrol or diesel engines with an all-electric EQT model planned for further down the line. The UK, however, will only get a diesel car for now with the option of either a T160d or a T180d giving you 95hp or 116hp, respectively. That is a shame because the petrol is a lively engine that UK buyers would appreciate, but a turn in the T180d with its 1.5-litre engine paired to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox showed it to be refined and easy-going in urban or motorway environments. 

The ride is quite firm but not jarring, while the steering is light making it well suited for city driving. Below 50mph it's perfectly quiet, as you would expect from a Mercedes, and that seven-speed gearbox has plenty of tight ratios to flick between to make the engine feel comfortably in control with plenty of torque on tap should you need a burst of acceleration. The T-Class is not fast, though, but it does not need to be, in fact it is better to keep it below motorway speeds as its cavernous interior becomes a little noisy at a cruise. Yet, pack it full of people, big and small, as well as a few four-legged friends and you would neither notice nor care. 

While the diesel T-Class with its CO2 emissions of 147-154g/km isn't particularly stellar or offensive, it will likely be the electric EQT that catches the imagination more than the diesel model. Although pricing has not been revealed for any model a considerable price increase for an electric EQT, with a likely range of around 160 miles, should not put off buyers.

People may think of the T-Class as a posh Mercedes van, but there is a lot more to it than its commercial vehicle origins. Packed full of safety features including active brake assist, crosswind assist and options like adaptive cruise and lane keeping, it is a more spacious alternative to an SUV, carrying the Mercedes badge yet unlikely to have quite the same pumped-pump price tag.

Mercedes-Benz T180d 

P11D: £25,000 (est)

On sale: Summer

Residual value: TBC

Depreciation: TBC

Fuel: TBC

Service, maintenance and repair: TBC

Cost per mile: TBC

Fuel consumption: TBC

CO2 (BIK %): TBC 

BIK 20/40% a month: TBC

Luggage capacity: 520 litres

Engine size/power: 1,499cc/116hp


  • Well-equipped
  • Spacious interior
  • High levels of safety equipment
  • Light steering not great at speed
  • Noisy at a motorway cruise