Putting things in perspective is something of a challenge for us, but one that we accept with relish. Take this case for instance: we thought it would be more useful to our readers to have the Mercedes-Benz Citan Mixto put through its paces from a person who would use it as intended... for both work and play.
After all, this sort of 'real-world' testament is more relevant to somebody in the market for such a light commercial vehicle than a standard shake-and-bake, but the dual personality Citan proved to possess an amazing depth of talent that impressed even us, as it capably transitioned from work to play over the course of a weekend.
First-off, a little bit of background on Eddie, the chap we've saddled this huge weight on. The thirty-something owns a personalised mobile grooming/detailing outfit called Reflections Detail, which provides home-visit sessions to his network of sportscar owners, as well as supports the Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) polishing work for brands like Alpina and RUF, amongst others.
At the moment, his favoured beast of burden is a pre-owned VW Caddy that was acquired a few months ago, but by the end of his time with the Citan, he's talking about trade-in values and exit strategies! In fact, up to a week after he returned the Citan, Eddie still complains about withdrawal pangs and lays the blame squarely on us for leading him into temptation'
TopGear Singapore (TGS): What do you think of the Citan's looks?
Eddie Lim (EL): Well, it has that solid, rugged look and the huge three-pointed-star integrated into the black plastic grille up front leaves no doubt as to its brand identity. I reckon the oversized front bumper should be pretty resistant to light abrasions too'not that I tested it!
The headlights were large and clear, and provided us with a good spread angle, which made sure we could see and be seen. The wing-mirrors too, had blind-spot markers to address such a panel vehicle's inherent blind-spots.
I think it's great that Mercedes-Benz has managed to combine function with style, since despite the Citan's 'premium' feel, it's not afraid to get down and dirty as it has all the sensible bits and ergonomics to fill the work-horse job description.
TGS: How do you find life on the inside?
EL: The seating position is tall and there are large glass areas for good visibility out, but I would have preferred a way to lower the driver's seat even more and for the steering to have telescopic adjustment.
The seats are well-padded and prove comfortable on long journeys and the high roof and huge windows make sure the cabin feels airy instead of claustrophobic.
True to 'utility' form, there is decent storage to the tune of 77-litres in the cockpit and passenger cabin, which includes a roof ledge within arm's-reach of the front occupants, a deep storage bin under the centre console armrest and in the door pockets.
Like all Mercs, there's just a multi-function single stalk to work the wipers and indicators, which again subtly reinforces the impression of quality, as does the solid, reassuring 'thunk' of the doors closing.
However, the Citan isn't just about the 'show' either. The plastic panels are hardy and scratch-resistant, and the Mixto has spacious second row seats that accommodate three comfortably, which is great when out-of-town family and friends visit with lots of barang-barang in tow.
TGS: How does the Citan fit into your work and play lifestyle?
EL: Regardless of whether or not I am carrying my grooming crew, the Mixto boasts a large 2.4m2 load compartment. Folding-down the second row seats boosts the load-lugging capacity to 3.7m2.
Unlike some MPVs, which require complicated fiddling to work the seats, a quick tug-and-shove is all that's needed to flip-down the Citan's second row split-fold seats.
We tend to carry a fair bit of grubby gear during our mobile polishing gigs, but the hard-rubberised mat not only prevents things from sliding around too much, it is also easy to clean.
My weekend time is spent with my wife and two huskies. Hopping into the van wasn't tough for my dogs and they got comfortable straightaway since there's ample room for them to shift around.
Thanks to the hard-wearing material that clads the cargo area, their paws don't cause any damage to the surface. My wife was particularly surprised by the premium feel of the cabin, as well as the comfortable ride damping and sound insulation. Best of all, it can also be privately registered so driving up to Malaysia isn't a problem.
The Citan is a very good combination of a daily runner for workdays and fun utility vehicle for the weekend. It surprised me when I first started the car, because the clatter and vibration typically associated with turbodiesel engines was conspicuously absent.
The damping is surprisingly pliant and there's a decent spread of torque from the 1.4-litre – coupled to the light clutch, daily commutes are a doodle and never a chore. However, I would have preferred an overdrive 6th gear for higher speed cruising.
During my four-days spent with the Mixto, I grew a little too accustomed and attached to its 'serene' cabin ambience' and then I had to give it back and clamber back into my own van!
Mercedes-Benz Citan Mixto
Engine 1461cc, inline4, turbodiesel
Transmission 5spd manual
Top speed 160km/h
Load volume 2.4-3.7m2
Fuel consumption 4.6l/100km
PHOTOS Jimmy Oh