Mercedes-Benz has added improved safety, new tech and a bold design to its SA-bound Sprinter but will that be enough to challenge Ford’s new Transit?The Sprinter has had a redesign, had its passenger protection jacked and its fuel-consumption reduced and its looks are now more in line with the automaker’s recent models: the grille’s three slats are perforated and wedge-shaped, increasing airflow. The headlights are now more angular and the bonnet has been raised. The tail lights have been redesigned.The Sprinter panel van (also assembled as a bus, as is the Transit) and freight carrier will be launched at the 2013 Johannesburg International Motor Show in October. The new Sprinter takes on the locally launched Ford Transit.MOST ECONOMICAL?The model’s diesel engine line-up is unchanged: four and six-cylinder units with outputs ranging from 70 to 140kW. Tweaks to exhaust systems have resulted in lower fuel-consumption and reduced noise. As an alternative to diesel, a supercharged four-cylinder 1.8 natural-gas engine (115kW) is available in Europe. Engines can be mated to a six-speed manual or seven-speed auto gearbox.The combination of diesel engines and BlueEfficiency Plus has, according to Mercedes, reduced fuel consumption to a 18.8 litres/100km (NEDC combined). The chassis has been lowered to reduce the van’s drag and fuel consumption while making cargo transfer easier.The model has a number of technological enhancements, trickled down from other Mercedes-Benz models such as the 2013 GL.NEW UPHOLSTERYThe vehicles now have "crosswind assist" as standard, "collision prevention assist" and "blind-spot assist" as options. New kit added includes "high-beam assist" and "lane-keeping assist". Mercedes asserts: “These electronic assistants will play a key role in helping to reduce collisions in the van sector.”The interior has new upholstery. The steering-wheel is thicker and the gearshift lever has been redesigned.The Sprinter is also fitted with Mercedes' new audio system with Bluetooth and satnav.