The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has long been the byword for excellence and performance in the full-sized van sector. The MK3 model range builds on efficiency and safety in significant ways, adds some style inside and out but remains focused on sheer practicality.
Front-wheel, rear-wheel or all-wheel drive - for the first time the new Sprinter covers all three drive variants, and can therefore be optimally configured for the relevant transport requirement and operating profile. The front-wheel drive especially shows its inherent advantages when the vehicle is lightly loaded or in slippery conditions. Front-driven variants get either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 9-speed automatic 'box, both freshly designed. In the rear-wheel drive variants, thanks to separation of the drive and steering, the classic advantages lie in optimum ride comfort, a smaller turning circle and more agile handling. Rear-wheel drive also allows more control when towing a trailer and at the limits of the maximum permissible gross vehicle weight.
The optional all-wheel drive system improves traction, particularly in difficult weather conditions or poor road conditions, thus enhancing driving safety and driving dynamics. Gear reduction is additionally available for demanding operations. As for engines, well not too much has changed here. Most will continue to choose the four cylinder 2.1-litre diesel powerplant. With front or rear wheel drive, it's available with 114 or 143bhp. The top 2.1-litre unit gets 163bhp when rear-driven or 177hp when front-driven. Above that, there's a 190hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 440Nm of torque.
Depending on the variant chosen, this third generation Sprinter features four different front-end designs. Plus there's the option of LED lighting with 'eagle wing' design daytime-running lights. The driver's workplace is uncluttered, practical and designed to meet the relevant transport requirements. The improvements include ergonomically shaped seats, keyless start and an improved air conditioning system. A variable stowage concept ensures that everything has its place. The interior also features a fresh modular dashboard design that allows for maximum flexibility - everything from extra storage, to cutting-edge infotainment and wireless charging is available.
The multimedia system has a large, high-resolution touchscreen, fast hard-disc navigation with 3D map display and smartphone integration. For pleasant temperatures inside the cockpit, owners can choose between a semi-automatic air conditioning system or automatic climate control, according to their comfort requirements.
Despite its European success, this Sprinter still isn't one of the first vans that many British business think of when their looking for a really large LCV. Yet on this evidence, perhaps its should be. It's as big and practical as any of its rivals, with a refined powertrain. The availability of front wheel drive will enable Mercedes to access a wider band of buyers too.
Yes of course there are cheaper rivals. Some of them feel a little more avant garde too and have cleverer cabs. But when it comes to the things that actually matter when it comes to running a vehicle of this kind, the Sprinter ticks most of the important boxes with the kind of thoroughness that you'd expect from something bearing the famous Three Pointed Star on its grille. All of which means that whatever your business, this could be your righthand van. Some things just don't change.Click here to find out more about our Mercedes-Benz Sprinter range