First Drive: Facelifted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Date: Monday, December 2, 2013   |  

The new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is, according to the company, designed to set new benchmarks for quality and emissions, while also boosting a model that is set for its record year in terms of UK sales. Despite switching from old to the now more technologically advanced and aggressively styled new model, 2013 should be the first time 20,000 Sprinters will have been registered in the UK in a single year.

The range gets a revised look, new technology and greater efficiency, with Mercedes claiming a 7% improvement over the previous generation, and the Blue Efficiency models improving that by a further 6%. Mercedes claims it will be the first manufacturer to offer an engine that meets Euro6 emissions legislation early next year, coming into force on light commercials from September 2015, across its entire range of Sprinter models. Euro5 will also be available, with the more efficient Euro6 costing extra. The older technology will be phased out during 2015.

There are no major engineering changes to the new Sprinter, although it is 30mm lower to help handling and aerodynamics, as well as cabin access. Mercedes will allow customers to delete the new ride height, which it claims improves efficiency by 2%, for those operators that use their vehicles for towing or over rough ground.

It’s easy for anyone with Sprinter familiarity to distinguish the new model from old, with the German company looking to establish an aggressive appearance through a more pronounced upright grille, reprofiled bonnet and new headlamps. In the cabin, there is a new multifunctional steering wheel and subtle chrome surround for the gear lever, along with a new cheaper navigation option to go with the new audio system. The cabin is otherwise close to what it was before, which is to say functional with decent levels of storage and, for the sector, good- quality materials, although expect the new Ford Transit to trump it on that score when it arrives early next year.

To drive, the Sprinter has always been good, and this model is no exception, but any claimed dynamic improvement from the lowered ride height is imperceptible.

Multiple What Van? Safety Award wins illustrate that Mercedes takes this area seriously, and it is again pioneering new technology for the LCV sector with standard fitment of its new side-wind assist system on all vehicles bar those with an extra-high roof and chassis cabs. The system works within the van’s electronic stability programme, and keeps the vehicle in a straight line if hit by a sudden gust that the driver doesn’t react to. Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Highbeam Assist and Lane Keeping Assist are all also optional extras, giving unparalleled choice for operators concerned about employee wellbeing.

Mercedes is understandably bullish about its new Sprinter, because it’s basically a well-executed mid-life refresh of the already very good large panel van. More reasons to like and no downsides means the

German LCV giant has taken another successful step towards its goal of hitting the number two spot in the UK van sales chart.




Impressive improvements to an already excellent van



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