Over 300 configurations can be had with new Sprinter, including for SA’s long-distance taxi industry. Pic:SUPPLIED
Over 300 configurations can be had with new Sprinter, including for SA’s long-distance taxi industry. Pic:SUPPLIED

The all-new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, in passenger and cargo derivatives, has gone on sale in SA.

The range is updated with a van-load of improvements in modern tech for safety and convenience. Available assistance systems include Cross Wind Assist and Hill Start Assist. Helping to retain its commercial strengths while moving it upmarket are the options  of active Distronic, Lane-Keeping Assist, a reversing camera, Parking Package with 360-degree camera, a powered side door, rain sensors, keyless start, satellite navigation, and Active Brake Assist with danger warning acoustics.

There is also new communication and entertainment equipment such as Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports and optionally you can specify Mercedes-Benz’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistant, which enables drivers to say things like “Hey Mercedes, take me to the harbour”. The inclusion of the new MBUX multimedia system into the Sprinter is an unparalleled feature in the commercial fleet sector.

The new Sprinter range is powered by a trio of diesel engines: a 2.2l four-cylinder diesel available in two outputs of 84kW/300Nm and 120kW/380Nm. Both motors are credited with improved fuel efficiency and can be had manual or automatic transmissions.

Optional MBUX availability is a game-changer in the sector. Picture:SUPPLIED
Optional MBUX availability is a game-changer in the sector. Picture:SUPPLIED

The third motor is a 3.0l six-cylinder with 140kW/440Nm and it’s attached to a new 7G-tronic auto transmission.

Driving the new range you might expect that cargo and 22-seater people carriers based on a commercial chassis would be rather unrefined, but that’s not quite the case here. The engines and cabins are relatively hushed and comfortable.

The vehicles also have easy entry and egress into the front cabins, and where the taxi/hospitality focused bus is concerned, legroom is satisfactory and 22 passengers can sit comfortably on seats that are optionally offered in leather.

What I took away from that experience is how car-like they have become in their light and easy steering. The effortlessness will be improved if you opt for the automatics over the manual transmissions. The engines too, provided you pick the 3.0l for the large 519 CDI panel van Series, are quite robust and responsive. 

The Sprinter is available in a smorgasbord of configurations, from the bespoke long-distance Taxi Inkanyezi; cargo carrying panel vans in short, long and extra-long wheelbase; to a Sprinter Tourer that’s customisable for a wide variety of comfort applications.

One of the most important in running a fleet business is safety for drivers, passengers and goods transported. The new range integrates a new traction and stability system, the effectiveness of which was confirmed while slaloming through cones at Kyalami race track. The result is a big vehicle that’s kept in check easily and comfortably.

The 18 models available at launch cost from R461,783 for the entry level 3.5-tonne Sprinter 316 CDI Freight Carrier to the top line 5-tonne Sprinter Panel Van AWD retailing at R815,925.

Luxury touring is the Sprinter Tourer’s business outlook. Mercedes-Benz SA also mentions it’s looking to offering this camper van modification. Picture:SUPPLIED
Luxury touring is the Sprinter Tourer’s business outlook. Mercedes-Benz SA also mentions it’s looking to offering this camper van modification. Picture:SUPPLIED