More than 300 configurations can be had with the new Sprinter, including for SA’s long-distance taxi industry. Picture: SUPPLIED
More than 300 configurations can be had with the new Sprinter, including for SA’s long-distance taxi industry. Picture: SUPPLIED

The all-new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, in passenger and cargo-carrier 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 is the possibility to specify active Distronic, Lane Keeping Assist, a reversing camera, Parking Package with 360° 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 you can opt for 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 is an unparalleled feature in the commercial fleet sector.

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 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 in manual or automatic transmissions.

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 the cargo and 22-seater people carrier, which are based on a commercial chassis, would be rather unrefined, but that’s not quite the case. 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.

Luxury travel is easy in the Sprinter Tourer, with Mercedes-Benz SA saying it is looking at offering this camper-van modification. Picture: SUPPLIED
Luxury travel is easy in the Sprinter Tourer, with Mercedes-Benz SA saying it is looking at offering this camper-van modification. Picture: SUPPLIED

The effortlessness will be improved if you opt for the automatic over the manual transmission. PThe engines, too, provided you pick the 3.0l for the large 519 CDI panel-van Series, the engines, too, 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 greatest concerns in running a fleet business is safety for drivers, passengers and goods transported. The latest newrange integrates a new traction and stability system, the effectiveness of which was confirmed while slaloming through cones at Kyalami racetrack.

The result is a big vehicle that’s kept in check easily and comfortably.

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