The MB100 is an old Mercedes van sold in Asia, South America, Africa and Australia. The van has a long history behind, but despite being pretty popular on the emergent markets it went out of production in 2004.
The vehicle was built in Korea and shared the same design and technologies with the SsangYong Istana. Unfortunately the only Mercedes part found at the van was the badge, so don’t expect to the same level of reliability and refinement that is usually found at any Mercedes vehicle.
The van was a pretty rugged workhorse built with practicality in mind and was available in both commercial and passenger versions.
Power options included two engines namely a 2.3 liter diesel and a 2.2 liter petrol.
The Mercedes Benz MB100 had a pretty rugged design and a boxy shape. The bonnet and windscreen were sloped at the same angle giving the front end an aerodynamic look. The horizontal headlights continued the basic design language found at the rest of the cab and flanked a “U” shaped radiator grill which is fitted with the company’s badge in is center.
Up front there was also a pretty simple bumper and a wide wind screen which offered a great view of the road ahead.
Access to the cargo area was made by means of lateral sliding doors or a wide opening tailgate.
The van was offered with two wheelbases which measured 2455 mm (MB100) and the 2680 mm (MB140). Load capacity is 5.7 m³ or 7.3 m³ and the payload either 1.2 t or 1.4 t.
The van was fairly spacious inside and the seats offered proper head- and leg-room. As you’d probably expect, it will be hard to find any soft touch plastic or quality materials, as everything inside is rock hard and cheap.
The build quality wasn’t impressive either and a fast inspection will reveal many faults in the fit and finish department. Though, this was the usual treatment found in this class so we won’t complain too much about it.
Between the front seats there was a big engine cover that felt a bit intrusive. It was fitted with a chunky gear knob, twin cup holders and some cubbies were you can store small items. There is also a sizeable glove box and a pair of small door pockets.
The center console features a pretty smart layout, but the HVAC controls are a bit hard to reach while driving.
The seats were pretty upright and they were also hard and flat offering only basic support. It’s true that there were some adjustments available, but they weren’t of much help.
The truck-style steering wheel was pretty ergonomically designed and offered a good grab.
The all around visibility was top notch, thanks to the wide windscreen and the generous lateral windows.
Engines and performance
The diesel unit had a 2.3 liter displacement and developed a maximum output of 79 hp, while the 2.2 liter petrol unit came with 122 hp on tap.
The engines weren’t too refined, but they managed to deal well with the arduous missions of the vehicle and were pretty lively around town.
Our favorite choice was the petrol, as it was a bit more refined and less noisy than the diesel.
Both engines were reliable to the core and were mated on a pretty rubbish five speed manual transmission. The top speed was rated somewhere around 130 kmph.
Ride and handling
The ride was more on the harsh side as the vehicle was built with utility in mind. There was also a big body roll in bends and the overall driving manners were pretty rigid.
Though, thanks to its relatively compact exterior dimensions and the tight 6.5 meter turning radius, the van was easy to maneuver in tight spots. On the other hand, the heavy steering was far from being charming.
The Mercedes Benz MB100 had a pretty high ground clearance and was equipped with small 14 inch wheels. The breaking power was average, being assured by all-around drums.
The Mercedes Benz MB100 was a practical and reliable workhorse, being perfectly suited for harsh jobs. The build quality was pretty strong, but the interior was agricultural and was filled with cheap plastics and low rent materials.
The engines were far from being sporty, but they managed to do their job with dignity and coped well with the necessities of a commercial vehicle. The ride however was harsh and the handling was also pretty rudimentary. Not to mention about the lack of safety features.