It’s been a long time coming but for florists Gareth and Amanda Sweet their new Mercedes-Benz Citan is proving well worth the wait.
The Citan marks the entry of Mercedes-Benz into the small van market and leads the field in terms of fuel efficiency. The model was launched in January but the couple, who own Rays Florist Ltd, of Ash, near Aldershot, Surrey, learned back in 2011 of its impending introduction.
"We planned our vehicle requirements around the Citan coming out and I’m glad we did," says Gareth. "Not only is it the perfect size for our business, but we’re already making valuable savings on our fuel bill too."
Their Long-bodied 109 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY arrived via local dealer Rossetts Commercials and is attracting plenty of admiring comments thanks to its eye-catching appearance – the vehicle’s smart black paintwork, which includes colour-coded door mirrors, is set off by multi-spoke alloy wheels, while its striking, pink livery is by Reade Signs, also of Aldershot.
The inherent economy of the 109 CDI model’s 90 hp diesel engine is enhanced by a series of clever BlueEFFICIENCY measures including the ECO start/stop function – which turns off the engine whenever the vehicle is stopped in traffic, then restarts it as soon as the driver depresses the clutch – low rolling resistance tyres and optimised alternator and battery management systems. The result is a market-leading economy figure of up to 65.7 mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 112 g/km.
The Sweets bought Rays Florist in 2000 and have since relied on a series of larger Mercedes-Benz Vito vans. "We used to do a lot of runs to the wholesale markets to buy flowers," explains Gareth. "But as we’ve grown the online side of our business – we offer a same-day UK flower service and a mail order floristry supplies service – so our suppliers have been prepared to deliver to us. Our fresh flowers are shipped overnight direct from Holland."
The couple are now using their new Citan to distribute flowers to customers across Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire and sometimes even further afield – Rays Florist offers a huge range of fresh flowers and associated floristry supplies, and provides church and reception displays and bridal flowers for more than 100 weddings each year.
For added comfort and practicality, they specified the vehicle with a string of optional extras such as electric folding door mirrors and parking sensors. The vehicle offers 3.7m³ of carrying capacity but should even more be required another option in the shape of a clever hinged bulkhead and flat-folding passenger seat frees up extra loadspace, allowing Gareth and Amanda to deliver their blooms in perfect condition every time.
"Our Mercedes-Benz vans have always proved to be reliable workhorses and we like to be associated with a brand whose reputation is for quality, trustworthiness and safety," continues Gareth.
"I drove a Citan for the first time during Rossetts Commercials’ launch event at Mercedes-Benz World in Brooklands, and we’ve been looking forward ever since to the arrival of our own van.
"It’s living up to all our expectations. The Citan looks great and is a joy to drive, while also proving highly economical to run. We’re very pleased too with the first class service we receive from Rossetts Commercials – during a long association the dealer has always met the needs of our business."