“It’s a Mercedes-Benz” I told the seven eager rugby players, all curious as to what we’d be carpooling in to the tournament. Their eyes widened.
“Awesome!”, “Sweet!”, “Baller!”, “Wait, we won’t all fit!”
Sure we will. Our gear will too.
I’ll admit I was trolling. The looks on their faces when I rocked up in a van were priceless, but to be honest, this one still looked tough as hell. One of my teammates said it looked like we were the evil villains at the top of some global crime ring. Another said all the other teams would be intimidated into submission – they weren’t.
In Europe, vans like this are not uncommon, especially in the corporate airport shuttle world. Now North Americans can experience it.
First off (and much to the chagrin of my teammates), this is not a luxury car. The seats are cloth, and plain, yet somehow offer excellent support and comfort over a two-hour journey.
The van is serene inside, wind noise and road noise was noticeably muted. To the point a guessing game broke out among the passengers, “What speed are we doing?” – it was the speed limit, of course.
The great challenge of filling a van with eight rugby players is our kit bags. The great joy of a repurposed city-cargo van being used as a passenger vehicle is that it makes a joke of that “challenge”. We even had room for a few (sealed) cartons of beer.
Access to the third row is an issue. For some reason only one seat actually moves up and out of the way to allow access and it’s on the passenger side.
The 208 hp/258 Ib-ft 2.0L turbo-four was stout enough to propel the 2,200 kg Metris about when empty, and remained unflustered even when fully laden with rugby players and kit. This is particularly impressive when you consider the max payload for the passenger van is 850 kg. The Buccaneers like kegs and cake in equal measures, so it’s fair to say we gave that limit a tickle.
The most impressive part of the engine’s performance was its quietness. Both sound deadening and smoothness have been employed in equal measures here, and the result is a properly luxurious ride from what is essentially a commercial van.
Fuel economy, fully laden, was an impressive 11.1 L/100 km – I’ve had worse trips in run-of-the-mill sedans.
Results from the Canadian Truck King Challenge
The ride comfort was good, too with solid steering feel at all speeds and no busyness on the highway, even in strong winds. This is thanks in large part to the $940 luxury interior package which upgrades the suspension for delicate human sensibilities and adds a few creature comforts. You have to select this package if you want the $1,660 Driver Assistance Package, which adds lane-keep assist, blind-spot assist, power heated mirrors and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with chrome trim. You need this if you want the multifunction steering wheel, upgraded instrument cluster, etc.
There are storage options abound, including neat little phone crevices complete with a USB port and a dashtop clipboard bin for the shuttle driver on the go to keep their paperwork. The cupholders may be a culture shock for North American consumers, however. Up front there are two solid units; elsewhere clip-in units of questionable stoutness are employed.