The first generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter arrived back in 1995, and not before time. The three-pointed-star had seen its slice of the European LCV market slide. Its designs were outdated, if dependable, and likewise the LT, VW’s big-box van, was showing its age. The resulting joint effort of the Sprinter and new LT (later Crafter) came to re-establish Mercedes in particular in the 3.5 tonnes and above class. Strong mechanicals and myriad body options set the scene for over a decade, the MkII broke cover in 2006 bolstering its core values and this third iteration from 2019 went totally comprehensive with front-drive, rear-drive, four-by-four and a raft of electronics to take the Sprinter to its next chapter: battery electric motion.

Like Ford’s Transit, the Sprinter literally comes in all shapes and sizes, with chassis cab and double-cabs available, bespoke emergency service versions and even a six-wheel drive conversion appearing briefly. The twin rear-wheel versions take it to over 5.0 tonnes, but here let’s stick to 3,500kgs panel vans, of which there are still plenty to choose. Three wheelbases of 3.2m, 3.9m and 4.3m offer four overall lengths of 5.2m, 5.9m, 6.9m and 7.4m with overall heights of 2.3m, 2.6m and 2.8m and an exterior width of 2.34m. Interior widths are 1.8m overall pinching to 1.4m between the wheelarches in front-wheel drive versions and 1.35m for rear-drive models. Internal heights are 1.8m, 2.0m (RWD) / 2.1m (FWD) and 2.2m, with load lengths of 2.8m, 3.3m (FWD) / 3.4m (RWD), 4.4m and 4.8m. Load volumes range across seven in total from 7.7m3 in a front-drive L1H1, the first rear-drive model gives 10.0m3 and the L4H3 boasts a whopping 17.0m3 with the 4WD version topping out at 15.6m3. Payloads come in even more combinations but sticking to 3.5t GVM means the Sprinter is more for volume than payload, ranging from just 1,039 to 1,400kgs. The higher figure for a FWD L1 while the unladen mass penalty of a RWD L4 sees it just scrape over the 1.0t mark.

The engines. although strong and with a reputation to withstand mega-miles, are not as economical or refined as Ford or Fiat offerings. Only the V6 gives any bragging rights although the 143hp (suffix-14 CDI) is a real slogger with peak torque from 1,200 revs. The manual gearbox has improved (a little) since the sloppy original and the automatics in seven and later nine-speed versions are well worth the extra cash. The rest of the in-cab experience is one of plenty of storage and clever design touches contrasted by materials and a quality of finish which would have been no part of the Benz 1980s bank-vault-build heyday; a Transit or Master feel better here. However, the Sprinter’s seats, driving position and ease of use are worthy of the hallowed badge. 

The MBUX system is comprehensive but having to say, “hey Mercedes” for the voice control seems silly and it rarely comprehends what you ask it next anyhow. The satnav is good, the 7in screen layout quick and logical and the controls easy to get used to. Standard safety and driver assistance kit is class-leading, with autonomous braking, lane keeping assist, the full raft of parking aids and 360° cameras are options at different trim levels. Premium and Progressive are the versions to look for. Payloads may be limited but for big volumes and long stints in the saddle, the Sprinter is still hard to beat.

Plus points

1) Strong engines

2) Excellent load volume

3) Mind-boggling variants

Minus points

1) Moderate payloads

2) So-so interior quality

3) MBUX trails Ford’s Sync

Second-hand buys





Price ex.VAT

L2H2 Progressive





L3H2 Premium





L2H1 Premium





L2H1 Progressive





L3H2 Progressive