Eye-catching Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport Tourer hits all the right notes for musician Martin


With lockdown restrictions now being lifted, the Halliwell family from Wigan are enjoying getting out and about once again in their stunning Mercedes-Benz van, and hoping to use it for a caravan tour later this summer.

Martin Halliwell needs a multi-talented vehicle which suits his busy lifestyle. The successful director of two businesses, award-winning brass band member, and proud husband and father of three, has been blown away by his Vito Sport Tourer, which arrived via local Dealer Roanza Truck & Van shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic struck the UK.

The range-topping model combines dynamic styling and performance, with all-important practicality. It accommodates up to eight passengers, allowing Martin to transport colleagues or clients, his young family, or fellow band members, in comfort and safety. When required, the flexible system means seats can be removed to free up cargo-carrying space.  

Martin lives with his wife Claire, their daughter Hannah, six, and four-year-old twins Harry and William. Thanks to its eye-catching Hyacinth Red metallic paintwork, which is set off by bonnet and sill graphics, and privacy glass, his long-bodied L2 ‘company car’ has been affectionately named Ruby by the children.  

Powered by a punchy, 190 hp engine paired as standard with a slick-shifting 9G-TRONIC PLUS nine-speed automatic transmission, the van rides on striking 19-inch alloy wheels. Other visual enhancements include lowered sports suspension, side skirts, roof rails, colour-coded bumpers, and LED head and tail lamps. It is the subject of a Mercedes-Benz ServiceCare plan and will be maintained by Roanza Truck & Van’s expert technicians.

Martin is a Director of R. Banks & Son (Funerals), the company acquired by his grandparents Cliff and Elsie in 1963, which has headquarters in nearby Pemberton. Martin’s father Brian has been Managing Director since 1991; his mother Jennifer and sister Carina are also Directors. Today, R Banks & Son owns a chain of 11 funeral homes across the north west, and operates a fleet which includes a pair of Vito ‘ambulances’ that collect and carry the deceased to mortuaries and chapels of rest. Sadly, it has been busy as a direct result of the pandemic, but having been struck down by pneumonia in December Martin has kept his distance and worked instead from an office at home.

The holder of a Class 1 HGV driver’s licence, he also runs his own car and van transportation business, RBF Services, in partnership with Claire. Established in 2007, it operates three Mercedes-Benz Actros tractor units which are named after his mother, wife and daughter, and which pull a variety of open and enclosed trailers. Customers have included vehicle manufacturers – Mercedes-Benz Vans among them – dealers, rental and leasing companies, fleet owners and bodybuilders. Although demand has fallen dramatically, the company has managed to keep its head above water and continued trading throughout the crisis.   

When he’s not at work, or spending time with his young family, Martin also plays Soprano Cornet with the Haydock Band, which has been performing and providing musical tuition for the community in Saint Helens and beyond since 1861. He has twice been voted ‘Bandsman of the Year’, while the Haydock Band has won numerous awards, recorded albums, and played live to 75,000 racegoers at the Grand National. The band recently re-posted its recording of the hymn ‘Manchester’, as a tribute to NHS staff and key workers. 

An avowed Mercedes-Benz enthusiast, Martin previously ran a Vito Sport 119 CDI crew van with second row of seats. “That was a fantastic vehicle,” he recalled, “It was versatile, and really engaging to drive, but also economical, and in three years it never let me down. 

“I went for the Tourer this time, though, because as the children are getting bigger and spending more time with friends, I thought the extra seats would be useful. They love it, of course, particularly the electrically-operated sliding rear doors, which they think are magic!”

Standard interior equipment on the Vito Sport Tourer also includes an Audio 40 infotainment system with DAB and satellite navigation, leatherette upholstery, heated front seats – the driver gets a Comfort version with lumbar support – and TEMPMATIC air conditioning. Other features include cruise control, a reversing camera and parking package with Active Parking Assist, Headlight Assist, and anti-theft protection. 

“My new van is a definite step up on its predecessor in terms of specification,” enthused Martin. “I particularly like the automatic parking system, which is a big help. My new TOURER is even more fuel-efficient as well. Shortly after it arrived I drove over to Skegness for a concert with fellow band members, our instruments, stands, and so on – it was a 180-mile trip and she returned 46 to the gallon, which I thought was outstanding.”

Mercedes-Benz Vans lead the field in terms of active and passive safety technology. To a comprehensive standard specification which includes driver’s and front passenger airbags, Adaptive ESP® and Crosswind Assist, Martin added optional airbags and the Active safety package, which includes Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, and Lane Keeping Assist.

“Roanza’s Van Sales Executive Daniella Stuchberry was very helpful when I came to order the new van, and arranged for it to be paint-protected when it arrived,” he said. “I think I ticked just about every safety option box. I’ll do whatever I can to protect my family and other road users, so its leadership in the field of safety is key to the Mercedes-Benz brand’s appeal for me.”

As well as his Vito Sport Tourer, Martin relies on Roanza to maintain and arrange MoT tests for R Banks & Son’s Vito vans, and RBF Services’ Actros trucks. “The Dealer’s service is second to none, absolutely brilliant,” he declared. “We often take advantage of Roanza’s night-time maintenance provision so that our vehicles are always available for work when we need them, and the fact that its Service department has remained open to support customers like us during this most challenging period is hugely appreciated.”

Like all Mercedes-Benz vans, Martin’s new Vito is backed by a three-year, unlimited mileage manufacturer’s warranty, and came with MobiloVan cover, which includes free, round-the-clock emergency roadside assistance.


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