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Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - Sprinter - commercial range

Launch Story

Mercedes-Benz logo22 Feb 2010

By LUCIANO PAOLINO

MERCEDES-BENZ has upgraded its Sprinter van range with new leaner Euro 5-compliant engines and improved safety.

A new diesel engine, a revised V6 and a powerplant that runs on compressed natural gas or petrol are among the offerings.

Safety levels have also been improved thanks to the standard fitment of driver and passenger airbags, optional curtain airbags and further development of the already standard electronic stability control.

While the Sprinter’s smaller sibling, the Vito, has an ANCAP five-star crash test rating that Mercedes is promoting heavily in Australia, no Euro NCAP or ANCAP crash test rating is available for the Sprinter.

The new ESC system has a trailer stabilisation feature that can alter the vehicle’s braking and engine output if the trailer starts to snake. The trailer must run an approved coupling but no other sensors are required.

The engine upgrades are the most significant part of the 2010 Sprinter facelift with fuel economy savings of between seven per cent and 10 per cent.

Mercedes has developed a new 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel which is available with two different outputs with power increases of between 10kW and 15kW and torque increases of between 25Nm and 30Nm.

The base engine now produces 95kW at 3800rpm and 305Nm at 1200-2400rpm, while the premium version pumps out 120kW at 3800rpm and 360Nm at 1400-2400rpm.

The new engine is ever so slightly smaller than the last – 2143cc to 2148cc – but has a different configuration.

While the previous engine was effectively square, the new one has a bore of 83mm and a stroke of 99mm. This supports an increase in the compression pressure (to 200 bar) and reduction of the compression ratio from 15.5:1 to 16.2:1 which Mercedes says allows for smoother idling.

Like the previous engine, the new diesel runs common-rail direct injection, but injection pressure has been increased to 1800 bar. New seven-hole injectors allow for five injections per combustion cycle.

The new engine has a two-stage turbocharger, with a low speed and high speed turbo working to ensure boost across the rev range.

A larger intercooler provides 20 per cent better cooling performance, while an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system helps it to meet the Euro 5 emission standard as opposed to the previous Euro 4 rating.

Mercedes has given the 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel a light revision which means it now also meets the Euro 5 emission standard.

The tweaks, which include injection pressure increasing to 1800 bar, mean a performance improvement with power moving up 5kW and torque increasing by 40Nm.

It now generates 140kW at 3800rpm and a hefty 440Nm at 1400-2400rpm.

The new CNG fuelled engine is confusing called the NGT Sprinter (for natural gas technology) and is based on the supercharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine from the C200 Kompressor car.

It can run on either premium unleaded petrol (95 RON) or CNG which is stored in additional tanks below the cargo floor which open up a possible 1200km range.

Engine performance is the same whether it is running on gas or petrol which means 115kW at 5000rpm and 240Nm at 3000-4000rpm.

The CNG engine and the diesel V6 are only available with a five-speed automatic transmission.

The four-cylinder diesel can also be fitted with the same five-speed automatic as an option, but the standard transmission is a new, more economical six-speed manual gearbox.

Called ECO Gear, the new manual features idle-stop. This cuts the engine at idle and re-engages it automatically when the driver depresses the clutch. Systems such as the air conditioning continue to operate without the engine, but the driver can over-ride it to keep the engine running if required. Mercedes says the idle-stop function can save up to eight per cent fuel in city traffic.

It also has a wider ratio spread with a lower first gear and higher sixth gear for improved low speed travel and more economical cruising.

Sprinters are rear-drive, but a four-wheel drive is also available.

The Sprinter range has 19 models, including several different wheelbase and body variations.

Prices are up by between $500 and $1000 across the range except for the Sprinter Transfer people-mover which retains its $76,990 price tag.

The entry-level Sprinter, the 313 short-wheelbase van, now costs $46,990, with the van range running through to the 519 long-wheelbase at $67,490.

The cab-chassis single-cab range starts at $46,490 for the 316 medium wheelbase model and goes through to the 516 long-wheelbase dual-cab chassis-cab at $56,990.

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