As one of the best-selling LCVs across Europe, Vehicle Consulting sent Danni Bagnall to test-drive the latest Mercedes Sprinter van in long-wheelbase guise. The Mercedes Sprinter now has a broader appeal than ever before, with more connectivity functions and added flexibility across the drivetrain range to include front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive, although this won’t be up for grabs until later this year. There are also added safety features along with improved running and efficiency costs.
Dating back to 1995, the model is only in its third generation, the first remaining in production until 2006. Danni’s test mule was the Mercedes Sprinter 316 L3 H2, complete with manual gearbox, so what better way to stretch its legs properly than a trip up the M1? Now, we all know it’s big – even when it was delivered and parked on the drive, it was sizeable – but that size only becomes an issue, well, when you try and park anywhere in a town centre at midday on a Saturday. That said, three laps of Stoke on Trent Tesco car park opened up two adjacent spaces together. One of which had a trolley resting in it – someone please explain why people do this?! Anyway, trolley moved, in went the van – in reverse fashion, naturally.
Having a rear reversing camera really helps. Things can creep up on anyone with the sheer size of the thing. The rear-wheel drive model has the advantage of a smaller turning circle over the front-driven and all-wheel drive variants – something which certainly helped in such a situation. The drive up the M1 and down the A50 to Stoke on Trent was very pleasant indeed, the majority of which was done in cruise control.
Despite the three drivetrains being made available with the Sprinter model for the first time, not much has changed in the way of engine options over its predecessor. And that’s not a bad thing. There’s still the popular 2.1-litre, which is available with different outputs (112bhp and 143 for front-wheel drive models and 112bhp, 143bhp and 163bhp for rear-wheel drive variants), as well as a 190bhp 3.0-litre V6 option, producing 325lb. ft. of torque, available in rear-wheel drive only.
Danni’s test model was the 316CDI with 163bhp and it’s safe to say it shifts for a large vehicle, but it is loud in doing so. Steering is light, but features plenty of feel so doesn’t pose a problem on the road. The brakes are a little slack and there is some travel before stopping, but this is something you get used to quite quickly.
In terms of design, it really depends on which variant you choose, as this third-gen model gets four separate front-end design options. LED day-time running lights with an ‘eagle wing’ design are even available as an option. Fancy. The driver area is spacious. The middle passenger will need to keep their legs tucked, though, so not to get in the way of the manual gear stick, but that’s a minor issue. Go for the optional 7-speed TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission if you happen to regularly have someone sitting in the centre seat. A 9-speed automatic transmission is available for front-wheel drive models. Door cards are great for litre+ bottles and storage, along with the dash area.
Other improvements inside include redesigned seats for added comfort and stability, as well as keyless start. The inside is highly customisable, featuring modular optional extras from added storage to infotainment upgrades and wireless charging. The large touchscreen multimedia interface is easy to use and features Bluetooth connectivity.
Mercedes’ new Communication Module, offered as standard, features a built-in LTE SIM card function which shares data with other vans and vehicle managers, which comes into its own if your business has a fleet manager and uses telematics and driver training. An advanced air conditioning system also features as standard, allowing the ability to flit between semi-auto and fully automatic climate control for optimal comfort. Load space is also more than ample, the L3 H2 variant tested measuring in at 6,967mm by 2,620mm.
There are three wheelbases and four lengths available, as well as three roof height options including chassis, chassis crew cab, tourer, and an all-new tractor head chassis specially designed for motorhomes. Autonomous emergency braking (AEB), as well as Mercedes’ Active Brake Assist with pedestrian protection, Rear Cross Traffic, Exit Alert, and Attention Assist detecting driver fatigue all add to a high level of standard safety features.
With list prices started at just shy of £25,000, the newest Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van builds on safety levels over its predecessor and adds more personalisation and connectivity than ever before, and practicality has been thought through thrice over, so it’s clear to see why the latest Sprinter is a clear contender for anyone leasing a large commercial vehicle on contract hire or finance lease. For the latest deals and offers, have a natter with Vehicle Consulting’s guys.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are Danielle Bagnall’s and not the views of Vehicle Consulting, which remains fully indemnified. The images shown do not depict the model variant driven by Danni and evaluated for this review.