18 Sept: NEW M-B Sprinter

Brand New Mercedes-Benz Sprinter …. More than a Makeover …

Until this month, the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was a ‘look but don’t touch’ exhibit at various trade shows around Europe, but British journalists finally got their mitts on the steering wheel last week.

However, it will take a keen eye to spot the difference between new Sprinter and the most recent model. The best indicator is the front view, where a new larger and more upright grille is cleavaged between new headlamp lighting units.

As for the biggest change, that’s under the bonnet. Although the basic engine line-up remains unchanged, the four cylinder diesel engine comes with a choice of 95 hp (70 kW) 250 Nm, 129 hp (95 kW) 305 Nm, or 163 hp (120 kW) 360 Nm outputs plus a six-cylinder petrol unit with 190 hp (140 kW) and 440 Nm of torque, but this latest range of engines meet the new much more stringent Euro-6 emissions legislation.

That means, the Sprinter has become the first van to be offered with Merc’s ‘BlueTEC’ Euro-6 engines, which greatly reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx), hydrocarbons (THC) and particulate matter emissions. Much cleaner than current Euro-5 legislation, the company claims that they are every bit as efficient as the current engines, quoting consumption figures of up to 44.4 mpg.

To meet these tough new Euro regulations, the Sprinter will have an additional ‘fuel’ tank for the diesel AdBlue additive as used on Merc’s heavy truck range and growing number of executive cars.

This is something that we will all have to get used to as other manufacturers catch up. It’s another ‘daily check’ that will have to be undertaken and another ‘fluid level’ to be topped up although Merc reckon the 47 litre AdBlue tank will be good for around 3750 miles so it’s hardly an onerous task.

However, for the time being, new Sprinters will still be available with current Euro-5 engines, but buyers will have to look at how they use their vehicles and how long they intend to keep them before deciding which to buy.

To complement the new engines, M-B has introduced a new two-pedal transmission option to the current six-speed ECO Gear manual gearbox with a seven-speed 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission with torque converter. The only one of its kind to be used in a van.

Taking things a stage further, Mercedes-Benz is introducing a new range of ‘numpty protection’ (my description, not theirs!) safety options for their Sprinter van. Crosswind Assist is a standard fit with further options for Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Highbeam Assist and Lane Keeping Assist.

These new options come in addition to the existing standard safety options which include the latest-generation ADAPTIVE ESP which comprises:
Anti-lock brake system (ABS),
Acceleration slip regulation (ASR),
Electronic brake force distribution (EBD),
Hydraulic Brake Assist (BAS),
Load Adaptive Control (LAC) load-dependent control system,
Roll Over Mitigation roll-over protection and Roll Movement Intervention (ROM/RMI),
Enhanced Understeering Control system (EUC),
Automatic brake disc drying system (Brake Disc Wiping) when driving in the rain
Anticipatory preparation of the brake pads in critical driving situations (ElecTRONIC Brake Prefill).

In other words, if you still manage to have an accident with this lot, then ‘numpty’ is a bit of an

Of particular note to rallyists and plant hire operators, the Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) system also
comes as standard if a towbar is specified, and if you specify the biggest engines, then the towing limit
is up to 3.5 tonnes. That’s a big trailer and a big car, or a plant trailer and fairly big mini-digger!

Inside the cab there appears to be little change. It is still as roomy as before with excellent headroom and good shoulder room for three. The seats have been changed though. Underneath the harder wearing seat cover fabric is a firmer foam core and wool fleece lining. Time will tell whether it is buttock friendly or not – but that’s a personal view.

The new steering wheel has a thicker rim while the multifunction steering wheel with trip computer with chrome clasps is optional.

There’s a new Audio 10 double DIN radio with Bluetooth, telephone keypad and phone book, an SD card slot, a USB 2.0 interface and an AUX input in the cockpit.

The Audio 15 unit additionally features a 5.8 inch colour display and enables the use of iPod devices via a USB 2.0 interface. When the optional backup camera is installed, the image from this camera is shown on the display. Guide lines are now provided on the display, to further facilitate manoeuvring. Audio 15 can also be combined with the new optional Becker MAP PILOT navigation unit. This is a fully integrated navigation module with an intuitive user interface. The device includes TMC for dynamic traffic jam avoidance.

The price for a new long wheelbase high roof Sprinter will start from around £26,000 (plus VAT) depending on specification.

So although the new Sprinter looks much the same from the outside, there’s a lot going on under the metal.