Daimler introduced North America to the concept of a higher priced, higher quality diesel-powered Euro commercial van almost 15 years ago with the Freightliner Sprinter – which became the Dodge Sprinter and now the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

Within the past few years, the Invasion of the Overseas Commercial Van has escalated dramatically, with dedicated cubes from Nissan, Ram (Fiat) and Ford offering contractors and fleet buyers vans that shame the old traditional North American fare with higher plateaus of utility, durability, drivability and economy. Yes, and pricing.

The smaller Mini-Me vans (Ram Promaster City, Nissan NV200, Ford Transit Connect) are catching on too, delivering tidy functionality and frugality to the inner-city crowd. Mercedes is jumping into this sandbox with the 2016 Metris, although this kid is a bit bigger than the rest of ‘em.

The Spanish-built Metris is a mid-size van that splits the difference between the big and small, and Mercedes is playing on this, stating the Metris as offering about 50 percent more payload and cargo capacity than the other small vans, yet with nimble urban moves.

Metris is available in two configurations. The Cargo panel van starts at $33,900 and the 7-passenger (2x3x3) Passenger van at $37,900. There is only one wheelbase, one box height and one drivetrain. Rear suspension is independent. Up front is a longitudinally-mounted gasoline 2.0L turbo four (208 hp, 258 lb-ft) that sends power to the rear wheels through a seven speed 7G-Tronic transmission (with paddle shifters). It offers three programs – ECO, Comfort and Manual (for those who wish to play Nico Rosberg while running the diaper service).

Premium fuel is recommended, although wisely Mercedes says the Metris will run on regular, with a slight loss in performance and efficiency. No official fuel numbers yet but, observed consumption on our around-town running was 13.5 L/100 km. It dipped into the 11s once out of the city.

Payload capacity is 1,135 kg (2,502 lb) and tow rating is 2,250 kg (4,960 lb). Cargo bed length is 111.5 inches, and with 50 inches between the wheel wells, Metris will accommodate 4×8 sheets of building materials. Service intervals are pegged at “up to” 25,000 km.

With an overall height of 6’3″, the Metris will fit into most parking garages.

Elsewhere in the world, where the Metris is known as the Vito, diesel power and all-wheel-drive are on the menu. Mercedes is not saying no on this, but for the present this configuration is here to test the waters for this market’s “only midsize commercial van”, in the automaker’s words.

Also on Autos.ca: Quick Spin: 2015 Ram ProMaster City

Metris comes standard with fabric seats, AM/FM, Bluetooth, air conditioning, USB, auto headlights and a couple of safety systems – Attention Assist which monitors your driving style and alerts if you’re losing focus, and Crosswind Assist that uses targeted braking to keep the rig on the straight and narrow. The $1,660 Driving Assistant Package adds leather wrapped wheel with chrome trim, heated and powered side mirrors, rain sensing wipers, collision warning, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and overhead control panel with map lights.

For our climate, the $630 Cold Weather Package (heated front seats and auxiliary electrical heating) will be a must.

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