Monarch Oxford’s smart new Mercedes-Benz Vito Tourer was supplied from stock and delivered by Dealer group Rygor Commercials within just one week of the order being placed.
The vehicle offers luxurious seating for up to eight passengers – for the time being, though, it is restricted to carrying just one person.
As a long-established contractor to local ambulance and social services, Monarch Oxford has been running multi-seat variants of the Mercedes-Benz Vito for more than two decades.
Proprietor Ken Soanes needed the latest in a hurry, due to the social distancing pressures imposed on his business by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The range-topping VITO 119 CDI SELECT combines sporty exterior styling with superior comfort – all seats feature armrests, adjustable backrests and head restraints – and an extensive technical specification.
The vehicle is powered by a fuel-efficient 2.1-litre common-rail turbo-diesel engine which produces a sprightly 190 hp. This output is transferred to the rear wheels – other Vito models are available in front-wheel drive form – via a nine-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission controlled via paddles on the Multifunction steering wheel.
It has lined up alongside Monarch Oxford’s three other vehicles, one of them a Vito 114 CDI Tourer SELECT which also arrived via Rygor, four years ago.
Monarch Oxford does not offer a private hire service. Instead, its vehicles are used exclusively to ferry residents of Oxfordshire, the majority of them elderly or vulnerable, and in many cases both, to and from hospital appointments, clinics, day centres and the like.
Acquired with funding support from Mercedes-Benz Finance, the company’s latest Vito is an extra-long, L3 version. “I was keen to ‘future proof’ myself as far as possible,” explained Mr Soanes.
“Social distancing measures are likely to remain in force for some time to come, so I wanted to maximise the distance between driver Tim Smith, who’s been with me for more than 20 years, and his passengers. As things stand, he can only carry one person, who must occupy the nearside rear seat.”
Mr Soanes continued: “I bought my first Vito the year after I began trading, and I’ve been running them ever since. In terms of access it’s in a class of its own. Some of our passengers are quite infirm, and unlike some other vehicles the Vito is relatively easy for them to get in and out of.
“As well as being exceptionally well built and comfortable the Mercedes-Benz has wide-opening doors on both sides, which is a huge advantage. We might retro-fit a single handrail to the nearside loading door, but this apart there’s nothing to do because the standard vehicle is so complete.”
The Vito Tourer’s flexible, quick-release seating rail system includes bench seats for three people in the first and second rows of the passenger compartment, which is carpeted in SELECT models. The outer seat on each row can be folded or removed.
Other SELECT specification features include chrome detailing in the instrument and door panels, the Multifunction steering wheel with trip computer, TEMPMATIC air conditioning, Headlamp Assist and rain sensor which automatically adjusts wiper intervals.
The subject of a Mercedes-Benz Service Package, the new Vito will be maintained by the workshop team at Rygor Commercials’ Oxford branch, which was given a major facelift in 2018. “I was struck by how much more attractive and welcoming the site looked, since my last visit,” recalled Mr Soanes.
“Likewise, the steps Rygor has taken to protect visitors and its own staff from Covid-19 were impressive. There were signs, screens, and hand sanitisers everywhere, while Sales Executive Duncan Kelly kept an appropriate distance throughout. All in all, it was a professional and reassuring response to the crisis from a Dealer that provides a very good service.”
Duncan Kelly commented: “At Rygor we’ve been doing everything we can to keep businesses moving throughout the coronavirus crisis, while always prioritising the safety of customers and colleagues. The social distancing measures we’ve put in place here at Oxford, and indeed at all of our branches, mean customers can continue to attend any of our sites with complete confidence.”