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‘Hey Mercedes!’ - we drive the new SA-bound Sprinter Van

2018-04-17 07:00

Image: Wheels24 / Sergio Davids

 • New Sprinter for South Africa in 2018
 • New exterior and interior
 • New connectivity services
 • Major improvements inside

Amsterdam - Earlier in 2018, Mercedes-Benz debuted the third generation of its best-selling van - the new Sprinter - in Germany. In April, Wheels24 was invited to drive the new SA-bound people-mover in Amsterdam.

The new Sprinter will be available in South Africa in 2019. A new eSprinter version will also enter the market in 2019, part of the strategy by Mercedes-Benz Vans for more electric commercial fleets.

The new Sprinter generation receives a progressive design, improved comfort and safety features.

What’s it like to drive?

In short, extremely comfortable with an agility that belies its size. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a large vehicle and its dimensions are always top of mind but the steering is precise, turning circle tight and overall provides a great ride.

Steering is extremely responsive and even performing three-point turns in the tight confines of Amsterdam’s streets are easy, thanks to its tight turning circle and parking sensors.

Its stop/start system means the van is virtually stall-proof, a good thing too as it took few tries to get used to the high revs needed when switching gears. Its suspension is supple enough to absorb bends and undulations, a boon if you have sensitive material stored in its voluminous confines.

Powerful six-cylinder 

High torque over a wide engine speed range - The 3.0 litre unit, the most powerful diesel engine in the range, delivers 140kW and 440Nm. As the only six-cylinder in the large van segment, it not only impresses with its enormous torque, but also with its smooth acceleration and performance. 

Four-cylinder units, three outputs

The rest of the range is powered by smaller four-cylinder diesel units. From a displacement of 2.1 litres and with rear-wheel drive, this engine generates a choice of three outputs - 84kW, 105kW or 120kW. Front-wheel drive the outputs are 84kW, 105kW and 130kW. The most powerful version is reserved for the camper van segment. 

Depending on body type, wheelbase, roof height, drive configuration and engine variant, fuel consumption of the new Sprinter varies from 6.8 - 9.7 litres of diesel per 100km (Combined fuel consumption/combined CO2 emissions: 178 – 253 g/km, provisional figures).

All diesel engine variants in Europe are available with a manual or automatic transmission, and meet the Euro 6/VI standard. In the US and Canada the engine range is supplemented with a powerful petrol engine and a 9-speed automatic gearbox. South African specifications have yet to be announced.

PRO connect and MBUX 

The van benefits from new networked services of Mercedes PRO connect, combined and MBUX multimedia systems (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). 

Mercedes-Benz has gone to great lengths to improve the technology and infotainment of its next-gen Sprinter. The new M-BUX system provides real-time data to drivers and fleet managers and the system can be activated with a simple voice command - "Hey Mercedes."

Watch as the M-BUX system answers questions about weather and the meaning of life…

The Mercedes Pro mobile app allows drivers and fleet managers to check on the vehicle status, receive updated information or revise routes.

The system can also send alerts about vehicle maintenance issues such as low tyre pressure or fuel levels.

Eight packages, with central fleet, vehicle, driver and location-based services will be introduced for the market launch of Mercedes PRO connect. These include Vehicle Supervision, Vehicle Operations, Fleet Communication, Maintenance Management and a digital Driver's Logbook, among others. 

1700 variants

For 2018, many derivatives increase in the number of possible Sprinter variants; Panel van, Tourer, bakkie or bus. New cab designs, body lengths, tonnages, load compartment heights and equipment features add to its versatility. 

The new Sprinter can also be put to work as a camper van or bus, and can be used as an ambulance by rescue services. 

Front-wheel drive, two new transmissions

The drive, rear and all-wheel drive, is now supplemented with a new front-wheel drive system; the payload of this version increases by 50kg compared to rear-wheel drive. An 80mm lower loading sill makes loading/unloading of more convenient.

The technical highlights of the new Sprinter include two newly developed transmissions for front-wheel drive. The 9-speed automatic is a first in the large van segment. Other enhancements include a low noise level and outstanding ride comfort. 

Practical interior, handles weights up to 5.5 tonnes

Cabin improvements include ergonomically shaped seats, keyless start and an improved aircon. The load compartment also scores with clever detailed solutions.

Loadable wheel arches and fully usable load compartment heights in combination with front-wheel drive increase versatility. The maximum load capacity is 17m³, with tonnages up to 5.5 tonnes.

Mercedes-Benz Vans also raises the Sprinter segment to a new level where safety features are concerned. The assistance systems available for the new Sprinter include a self-cleaning reversing camera showing its image in the rear-view mirror, a modern Parking package with a 360° view, and a rain sensor with an integrated Wet Wiper system for optimum visibility even during the wiping process.

*Disclaimer: Wheels24 editor Sergio Davids was hosted by Mercedes-Benz Vans for this trip

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