A Very "Euro" Way To Hand Out That Free Candy
Twenty-four years ago, noted wearer-of-Givenchy-sweatsuits-with-burgundy-trim DJ Quik lamented that, thanks to the pervasive influence of gangster rap, everywhere he went was just like Compton. The same thing is happening with the American commercial-vehicle landscape. The first to fall was the hoary old unibody Dodge van, which yielded to the rust-prone Sprinter. Next was the E-Series, nee Econoline, which bowed-out this year in favor of the Euro-style full-sized Transit. Only the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana are left to carry the glinting banner on which waves the heraldic American-van shield of a bleeding hand (from trying to wrench on short-hood vehicles), a one-dollar bill (to signify the aggressive cost-cutting which has come to dominate that business) a bar of candy (calling to mind the child molesters and creeps who formed the tertiary van market) and the symbols “O-” (the old universal-donor blood type, required for anyone who crashed a van above walking pace).
Mercedes started this party in the USA, of course, but they’ve been late to the intermediate-van game. The Metris, announced at a work-truck show in Indianapolis, will fix that oversight.
The Metris starts at $29,945 for cargo and $33,495 for the passenger models. Who’s going to buy the latter, I wonder? It’s larger than the Transit Connect or the Nissan NV200.
The sole available engine is a four-cylinder gasoline model that delivers 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque to the rear-wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission.
Everywhere else in the world, this is the “Vito” van, beloved steed of German plumbers and anybody else who wants to spend more money than you’d drop on, say, a Renault Kangoo. But here it’s “Metris”, presumably because “Vito” suggests Brando in his chunky forties and this Metris is meant to be more Al Pacino in Godfather II.
I cannot imagine the Metris will set the market on fire when it arrives. This is an exceptionally price-sensitive market, as I learned to my annoyance when I sold E-150s for a living, and Mercedes no longer carries the bulletproof quality reputation that would have made spending half again the price of a Transit Connect a no-brainer in 1982. We’ll just have to see. In the meantime, consider this: a passenger-model Metris carries more people than a CLA250, with more dignity.
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Given the three pointed star on the front, and the reasonably classy interior, I think you are going to see a lot of these at airport limo stands.
If the market for big vans is primarily commercial, I'm baffled as to why many of the big ones are switching to costlier euro-market examples over vehicles like the Econoline that exemplify cheap and simple. Why not just keep cranking out Econos with the 2.7EB, 3.7L and 3.5L EB backed by a newer 6AT?