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Vito pg42-43indd

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					Driving impressions
Pile in, pile out: Large sliding doors on the left and right are standard. The seat nearest the sliding door has an easy-entry function

Everything a woman wants
Graceful: Each piece at Red Hot Glass is unique, from exquisite hand-blown perfume bottles to elegant vases and wonderful abstract statues

The Mercedes-Benz Vito 115CDI Crew Bus certainly fills your garage, but could it fulfil a bit more than that? Take a quick look at a possible wish list from your better half and ponder this point further. Looks – Sleek looking but with a 1.9 m low-slung stance, the Vito won’t be discreet. Looks are deceptive though its 1 875 mm in height allows for good headroom inside. It can be a tight squeeze into an average-height garage and then only with the wide side mirrors folded in. Sheer size will certainly get her noticed and be taken seriously in the school car park... Muscle – A ripple of muscle under skin never goes amiss and with plenty of pulling power under the hood (especially in the low-rev range) it supplies enough verve to satisfy any dashing mom’s taxi. It is remarkably easy to manoeuvre in restricted spaces. Parallel parking in front of the coffee shop should be as easy as pie with the mirrors and range of sight through the all-glass rear door. Serious – All the occupants of the Vito can be strapped in with three-point seat belts on all seats while the driver and co-driver ones have belt pre-tensioners and airbags similar to those in a Mercedes-Benz passenger car. In fact the many safety details such as the Electronic Stability Program (EPS) remind one of the traditional qualities of its siblings in the car stable. Stopping distances are reassuringly short with its powerful braking system. Cool – A great ally for the commander of this bus is its powerful air conditioning unit. A peace-ensuring feature in the rear compartment is its own air conditioner control panel to set the temperature and the force of the blower for the troops back there. Another cool feature for the adventurous family is the adapter socket in the rear luggage compartment where a small fridge or ice box can be plugged in when camping or day-tripping. At command – Favourable first impressions count in any woman’s books and the interior lives up to promises. Interior space is what most of her passengers want. The easy-sliding doors on both sides keep bickering to a minimum and the legroom in both rows of seats should satisfy any divide-and-rule criteria from the commander up front. Talking about that – the high driver’s position is achieved with a low step up into the cab, great for runs with frequent stops. Deep pockets – Although we are talking stowage space aplenty, it is a woman’s ideal shopping companion. All the seats can be removed and fitted without tools to allow loading of even the most ambitious shopping.

Open wide: The tailgate door opens to an angle of about 90 degrees and can even be closed by a small child with its easy grab strap

On tour with all the senses

When the Vito arrived for its test drive courtesy of DaimlerChrysler it got lots of nods of approval from the smaller members of the family and it was hardly surprising that we had barely shifted into second gear down our street when an adventurous nine-year old decided that we just had to buy it! Words: René Gilbert
Spain’s loss was our gain when artists Elizabeth Lacey and David Jackson decided about two years ago to move their established studio from Johannesburg here rather than abroad. Liz Lacey says that besides the tranquil surroundings they felt that their art of transforming grains of sand into beautiful handcrafted glass art dovetailed nicely with the other art form on the farm, namely handcrafting wines from a humble grape seed. Now their mastery of some of the oldest crafts on earth is echoed by the skills of the foundrymen at work at Bronze Age. Here we witnessed the drama of a molten bronze casting with Charles Haupt and Goodman Mlotshwa while at the glass studio glass blower Robert Lenner coerced an elegant vase from the brilliant liquid mass of molten glass. Browsing through both galleries added to the pleasure of our

Red Hot Glass: Metals and metal oxides are added to glass during its manufacture to change its colour

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iving nods of approval to the Vito is what even sensible adults have been doing in the past two years since the Vito has been available locally. Such has been the demand for the Vito that it is also now being sold in the car sales rooms of Mercedes-Benz dealers although it started out life as a delivery van. The range was updated in 2004 with the addition of roof lining, thicker floor mats and a wide range of under-the-skin noise absorption materials to make its interior (especially in the Crew Bus version) less noisy. The resulting quality interior trim levels are entirely practical and functional for both a family vehicle and a tourist bus. The frequent sightings of the Crew Bus around Cape Town’s tourist hot spots seem to indicate that it has found favour as a small group transporter. We chose just such a day trip close to Cape Town to test its people-carrying abilities. We headed out for Paarl on the N1 to a place where we had heard one can take in one of the best views the winelands have to offer. The

lunchtime destination was Seidelberg farm on the Suid-Agter Paarl road about 40 minutes out of Cape Town. This was not only to savour the great view but to sample the menu at De Leuwenjagt Restaurant – the Dutch name for “the lion hunt” – a name used when the farm was established in 1680. And what would a day in the winelands be without sampling some wine? Our Vito’s new generation diesel engine with its 110 kW of power available at 3 800 r/min was an engaging drive and made light work of the road even with two families installed in the passenger compartment. Its impressive torque curve peaks at 330 Nm and makes for effortless driving and overtaking even between fifth and sixth gear. Another attraction for us at Seidelberg was the fact that the wine estate features two working art studios. Red Hot Glass is one of very few Venetian-style glass blowing studios in South Africa, while the Bronze Age Art foundry is a satellite of the popular sculpture house of the same name in Simon’s Town.

day out. The diversity of superior functional art objects caters for all tastes and pockets. Both galleries arrange for shipping if needed, but we had a Vito that could probably take even most of the imposing architectural pieces on display without batting an eye! An eclectic á la carte menu on the De Leuwenjagt terrace under 300-year-old oaks enhances the sensory delights already experienced. In winter one can enjoy the cosy ambience inside while watching the glass studio working through a window. In spring and summer they tell me picnic baskets can be booked and enjoyed on a blanket while savouring the balmy setting. Driving back we found that the luggage space was ample for our purchases, while the features in the passenger compartment allowed the occupants flexible choices in ending off a lazy Sunday. Reading lights in the rear meant some could read and play games while the more responsible ones could check their credit card slips to gauge the extent of their descent into debt! The others could simply nod off to sleep dreaming of the next trip in the Vito – that vehicle that they told their parents to buy and that they were surely considering after today... ■

Trip planner
Find details of the farm and studios here: www.seidelberg.co.za or (021) 863-5200 www.redhotglass.co.za www.bronzeage.co.za Transport 3| 2005 43

42 Transport 3| 2005


				
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