New Mercedes Sprinter van unveiled
Car-like comfort and an all-electric version of Mercedes' biggest van
The all-new Mercedes Sprinter van has been unveiled, with more comfort and technology than ever before - and an all-electric version is expected to follow.
Mercedes has given its largest van a thorough rethink in a bid to broaden its appeal. Changes include updated technology with cutting-edge infotainment, improved safety and a choice of front or rear wheel drive versions, as well as a new shape to allow improved internal loadspace.
The third generation of Mercedes Sprinter doesn't break any new ground when it comes to style – it builds on the strong identity of the previous model but with swept back headlamps and a prominent grille that brings it closer to Mercedes' car range than ever before. LED daytime running lights and a choice of eye-catching alloy wheels give the Sprinter a thoroughly up-to-date look.
The Sprinter was always more about substance than style, though, and a broader model lineup means it should appeal to a wider range of businesses than the already popular outgoing model.
New Mercedes Sprinter engines
Although the full range of Mercedes Sprinter engines has yet to be confirmed, it's known that diesels from 113 to 188bhp will be offered, teamed with six speed manual or G-Tronic automatic gearboxes with seven or nine speeds. Bigger news, though, is the introduction of an all-electric Mercedes eSprinter model a year after conventional versions go on sale.
With urban delivery companies in mind, along with any other business that makes frequent short local trips, the eSprinter will uses the same battery and motor system as revealed in the smaller eVito van. Both are front wheel drive, with batteries stored beneath the cargo floor for minimal effect on load volume, although it has yet to be confirmed whether the extra weight of the electric power system will bring a reduction in maximum payload.
Battery range hasn't been revealed yet, either, but Mercedes plans to provide a 'fully integrated charging solution' for commercial electric van users. The battery pack used by the eVito and eSprinter is promised to accept a full charge in 30-60 minutes.
Mercedes' Pro fleet management software will be expanded to cater for e-vans, too, allowing managers to monitor the energy use of electric vans in their fleet. It will also manage overnight charging and preheating to ensure vans are ready on time for a busy day of deliveries.Mercedes has confirmed that no hybrid version of the new Sprinter will be offered, preferring the greater emissions reductions that all-electric technology offers.
As well as ensuring that the latest Sprinter can earn its keep, Mercedes has made improvements to ensure drivers are looked after, too. Safety has been improved with adaptive stability control and crosswind assist can apply the brakes independently to individual wheels to prevent the van from rolling, while adaptive cruise control lessens the driver's workload on monotonous motorway trips.
Convenience has been boosted by options such as a parking package with parking assistance, a potential boon drivers who frequently visit cramped urban destinations. The new Sprinter also joins the Mercedes A-Class hatchback in being among the first Mercedes models to use a new MBUX infotainment system.
Less glamorous, but likely to be welcomed by businesses is a new communications module to help managers to monitor every aspect of Sprinters in their fleet. This runs as far as allowing load areas to be locked and unlocked remotely, as well as to automatically schedule maintenance to minimise downtime.
Operating through an expanded Mercedes Pro fleet management system, the hardware offers considerable scope for customisation thanks to being based on 'open source' Linux programming. This means it can be tailored to the specific needs of specific users as diverse as chilled distribution and emergency services, who will appreciate its GPS integration.
The roads aren't getting any clearer, so the new Sprinter has been designed to offer a more comfortable environment for its drivers. Influences from the Mercedes car range are clear to see, right down to the brand's familiar electric seat adjustment buttons and round keyless starter button. Models not fitted with the sophisticated MBUX touchscreen infotainment system will come with a conventional stereo that will be familiar to anybody who has driven an entry-level Mercedes hatchback in recent years.
As before, passenger carrying versions will be offered. Sprinter Tourer models will be offered in a variety of lengths and heights, with luxury seating options available. Multi-zone climate control, plentiful USB charging points and built-in wifi adding to the comfort of travellers. The optional air suspension system should provide a smooth ride, too.
Variants and bodystyles
Previously available only with rear wheel drive, the Sprinter can now be chosen with front wheel drive, which allows a load floor some 80mm lower than before. This will come as interest to courier fleets who need loadspace volume more than a high payload capability, and who will also appreciate the 1.2 metres of clear loadspace width on single-rear wheel models. This could also make the Sprinter well-suited applications where easy accessibility is vital, such as ambulances and welfare buses.
Front-drive versions are available with a wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) of up to 3.9 metres, with rear-drive versions stretching to 4.3 metres. Front wheel drive models are up to 50kg lighter, and will be offered with the least powerful but most fuel-efficient engines.
Standard and high-roof models will be offered, with standard, long and extra long panel vans joined by crew cabs and chassis cabs in what is the widest Sprinter range ever. Sprinters are frequently fitted with bespoke bodywork by specialist coachbuilders, and this is likely to continue with the latest version. Expect to see box van, motorhome and horsebox conversions on the road soon.
New Mercedes Sprinter on-sale date
The new Mercedes Sprinter launch is expected to be in June 2018, with the all-electric eSprinter following during 2019.