New models - Mercedes-Benz - Sprinter
High-tech safety aids for Mercedes Sprinter
Mercedes tweaks top-selling Sprinter heavy van line-up in Australia
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17 Oct 2013
MERCEDES-BENZ has given its top-selling Sprinter heavy van range a spruce-up for Australia, with a new nose design and the addition of a suite of segment-first optional safety technology Billed as “Australia’s safest workplace”, the German-made load-lugging range receives trickle-down gadgetry from Benz’s passenger range, with passive tech such as audible and visual early brake warning, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high-beam and lane assist.
There’s also a novel new feature called Crosswind Assist, which applies braking pressure to the wheels facing any nasty gale, negating the potentially dangerous effect it could have on the slab-side workhorse.
These features can all be bundled together as part of a $2400 options pack, although the Crosswind Assist is not yet ready for application on either the base version or, bizarrely, the slow-selling Superhigh Roof version.
The new optional safety gear joins existing standard far such Adaptive ESP stability control (a feature fitted in some form since 2002), cruise control with speed limiter and dual-front airbags. Thorax ($790) and window ($1190) airbags can be optioned.
As before, the sophisticated ESP can detect the weight and position of the vehicle’s load and its effect on the centre of gravity, enabling it to make more accurate electronic interventions where needed.
For wet-weather driving, the system also periodically applies the brakes just enough to remove surface water from the rotors, meaning greater braking power is more quickly available.
The new version also gets a lowered chassis, which Benz claims improves handling dynamics and cargo access. Mercedes put this new tune through a claimed eight million kilometres of “endurance testing”.
Meantime, the more upright grille design and re-shaped lights are more aerodynamics and pedestrian-friendly, and inside the chunkier steering wheel and gear-shifter, new seat coverings and updated Becker Map software (as used on the CLA and A-Class) keep things up-to-date.
With a more potent range of moderately cheaper European rivals in the mix, including Renault’s re-priced new Master and Fiat’s just re-launched Ducato, as well as the established Volkswagen Crafter, Mercedes is banking on this latest upgrade to keep its charger at the top of its segment.
Mercedes has sold 1557 Sprinters this year, including some to Ambulance fleets, but has experienced a drop in sales of 7.5 per cent. At the same time, the Master is up 81.8 per cent (549 sales YTD) and the Ducato is up 38.5 per cent (770 units YTD).
The rear-wheel-drive Sprinter has unchanged pricing starting at $44,290 for the base 310 short-wheelbase and climbing to $69,480 for the 5.0t 519 LWB with dual rear-wheels.
Mercedes’s offering still has amongst the broadest range of variants, with SWB and LWB layouts, different roof heights, single and dual rear wheels, and four different diesel engines (70kW/250Nm, 95kW/305Nm and 120kW/360Nm 2.2-litre turbo and 140kW/440Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo units) available.
A CNG gas version is still available, but Benz is relying on pre-facelift stocks for now.
GVM depending on grade is either 3550kg, 4490kg or 5000kg, wheelbase lengths range between 3250mm and 4300mm, and cargo volume varies between 5.2 square-metres to a cavernous 14.0sqm.
Naturally, all hit peak torque from no higher than 1600rpm for plenty of immediate grunt off the line. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard fit on most offerings, but a 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic is a $2800 option (and standard on the V6).
This is the only conventional torque-converter transmission on the market in this segment – others persist with truck-like automated-manual ‘boxes.
Mercedes also offers a 12-seat Sprinter Minibus from $79,990 and a host of dual-cab cab-chassis versions priced the same as the regular vans, which can house tray backs or special-fit body add-ons such as motorhomes.
Part of Benz’s major pitch to fleet buyers (such as the Ambulance services, although it just lost the Australia Post contract to a cheaper offering from Renault) is a fully programmable Parameterisable Special Module (PSM) that can be configured to control the engine remotely, set the lights to certain patterns in a given situation – for instance, making the headlights alternate in Park at idle for an Ambulance – and even remotely reduce maximum rpm if the car is reported stolen.
Standard features across the range include a multi-function steering wheel, USB, Aux and Bluetooth connectivity, power windows, a single sliding side door and a lockable glovebox are all standard.
Notable options include a high roof for SWB versions ($1990), a fixed bulkhead ($590), park assist ($1490), reversing camera ($750) keyless entry and slide ($1490), LED ceiling lights ($350) and a second row of seats on certain versions ($3490).
There’s also an all-wheel-drive system available across a wide range of van and cab-chassis models with various engine, wheelbase, cab and payload sizes, for an extra $22,000 over equivalent 4x2 models.
For detailed price listing and specification, see the embedded gallery above.
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