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Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - Sprinter - commercial range

Launch Story

Mercedes-Benz logo13 Mar 2008

By GEORGIA OCONNELL

WE ARE about to see a lot more of Mercedes-Benz vans in the future following a deal for Australia Post to replace most of its fleet of 1200 red Ford Transits with the German company’s latest Sprinter model over the next five years.

The Mercedes deal, which ends 25 years of Ford supply, comes on top of some other major fleet deals (including 380 to holiday rental company Maui-Britz) and makes the company confident it will increase sales of its biggest van, which already dominates the ambulance market.

For the 2008 model year, Benz has added a new short-wheelbase Sprinter model called the 311 CDI SWB (priced from $44,490) that will form the core of the Australia Post contract, which is for a minimum of 850 units between now and 2012.

From September, Sprinter buyers will also be able to order three models specifically designed to overcome the problem of carrying Australia’s wider cargo pallets – 1200x1200 versus 1200x800 in Europe – without losing payload.

The so-called Super Single models (SuSi for short) have bigger rear wheels and tyres (285/65/16) so that operators will be able to carry pallets that would not have fitted between the internal wheel-arches of traditional dual-rear-wheel vans.

Mercedes believes that its SuSi models – which have 1228mm between the arches instead of 980 for a dual-wheel Sprinter – provides a better balance of payload, floor space and overall size, and will gain sales from refrigerated van operators, the freight sector and mobile workshops.

Also in the second half of this year, M-B Vans will add an all-wheel drive Sprinter with high and low range, in both van and cab-chassis derivatives, which the company expects will find a market in the mining, tourism, forestry and emergency services sectors.

The current Sprinter was launched here in October 2006 and in December last year the company added the Sprinter Transfer, a 12-seat bus that can be driven on a regular car driver’s licence and uniquely comes with a standard five-speed automatic transmission.

Priced from $74,990, the 315 mid-wheelbase Sprinter Transfer mini-bus has a GVM of 3880kg and comes with dual front airbags and a roof-mounted rear air-conditioning system as well as the auto transmission.

The new Super Single vans will be priced from $53,990 for the four-cylinder turbo-diesel Sprinter 415 Mid Wheelbase model, moving up to $57,490 for the Long Wheelbase version. You then add a further $6000 for the more powerful 418 Long Wheelbase with its V6 turbo-diesel.

Like the new Vito compact van range, all Sprinters are powered by turbo-diesel engines – 2.1-litre four-cylinder units developing 65kW/220Nm, 80kW/280Nm or 110kW/330Nm (the latter with a two-stage turbo) or a 3.0-litre V6 developing 135kW/400Nm.

Other changes for the 2008 model range include seatbelt reminder warnings (both visual and audible), Speedtronic cruise control with built-in speed-limiter, entry-assist grab-handles and optional features including automatic sliding doors, door-close assist and keyless entry.

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