The Mercedes Benz Viano | Part Four

The Viano


The design - Distinctive, but still a typical Mercedes

Stylistically, too, the Viano is a totally new vehicle and easily distinguishable from its predecessor. Its profile view has taken on an extra dynamic edge, with its wedge-shaped contours rising up from front to rear. Striking wheel cut-outs support the powerful styling of the wide-set chassis.

"The design of the Viano meets the standards we have set ourselves and fits into a pre-defined vision. The design of our full-size van successfully blends an exemplary use of space with a level of emotional appeal which exceeds the norm in this vehicle class. The Viano's silhouette exudes excitement and energy," explains Peter Pfeiffer, head of design at Mercedes Benz.

The side view of the Viano may underline its distinctive identity within the model range, but from the front the new MPV bears all the hallmarks of a Mercedes. The headlamps, grille, harmonious lines from the bumper to the front windscreen and the flowing transition into the sides are all unmistakeable. Plus, the integrated bumpers, flush-fitting glass with concealed C-pillars and the design of the rub strips all identify the Viano immediately as a born-and-bred Mercedes Benz.

The Viano's striking rear end is characterised by the large, vertically arranged light units, which enhance the styling of the generously sized load compartment opening with its low sill.

Body and safety - Always a step ahead

The Viano has a self-supporting unitised body structure and the body forms a single load-bearing unit with the vehicle frame. The two wheelbases are created by alterations to the length of the side members from the C-pillars back. Overhangs of two different lengths account for the three vehicle lengths. Two side-mounted sliding doors are standard across the range, and the rear door, which is available either as a tailgate or with hinged doors, provides additional body variants.

Smooth, rounded forms merge into the flush-bonded windows to ensure not only stylistic homogeneity, but also a Cd value of 0.33 – extremely impressive for itS-Class.

The safety of the vehicle occupants took top priority in the development of the Viano. Detailed simulation-based calculations ensured that the crash resistance, rigidity, strength and flexural and torsional characteristics of all the vehicle variants were optimised as early as the design phase. Before the first vehicle could take to the road in prototype form, powerful computers had completed a process of virtual optimisation on all body structures to provide the best possible protection in frontal, offset, lateral and rear-end impacts, as well as in the roof drop and rollover tests. Subsequent real-life testing using test vehicles was therefore simply a matter of fine-tuning.

The seat mountings are anchored on the side members and the cross members, which are welded to the floor plate. The A-, B- and C-pillars, side walls and rear wings, sides of the roof frame and side door sills join forces to create an extremely robust passenger compartment. The rigidity of this safety cell has been designed to complement the enormous potential energy absorption of the front-end structure.

Published 27 June 2003 Melanie Carter

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