New Mercedes-Benz Sprinter breaks cover
Mercedes-Benz has unwrapped the next-gen Sprinter. The new big van promises to be more practical, cheaper to run and smarter than ever before. It'll also be available with diesel or all-electric power and should start in the region of £18,000+VAT when it reaches the UK in mid-2018.
The new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter will be available in 1700 different configurations, with factory-fit bodystyles covering tipper, dropside, minibus and panel van. Converters will also get the option of single or double chassis cab variants, which means there should be a Sprinter to fit all trades.
Most buyers will opt for the traditional panel van, which will be available in three roof heights and four body load lengths. The maximum load area now stretches to more than 17 cubic metres, while the maximum gross vehicle weight has been increased to 5.5 tonnes. All vans will continue to use single rear tyres, which means the loadbay will provide 1.2 metres between the wheel arches, allowing pallets to be loaded sideways.
For the first time, the Sprinter will get the option of front-wheel drive, which allows for greater payloads due to the fact it uses a shorter driveshaft. Rear-wheel and four-wheel drive will also be available, with the latter providing all-road ability for those who need a big van for churning through light mud or wintery roads.
There are no official details on powertrains, but the 2018 Sprinter is expected to use updated versions of the Euro6 compliant 2.1-litre turbodiesels, with fuel economy improvements that could push the advertised ratings beyond the significant 40mpg barrier. Outputs will range from 114PS, 143PS to 163PS for rear-wheel drive versions, while front-wheel drive will get 114PS or 143PS. Camper van builders will have access to the powerful 177PS 2.1 unit.
A 3.0-litre V6 is also rumoured to be on the way, with 190PS, but it isn't clear if this diesel engine will make its way into UK models. Most versions will be matched to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while a nine-speed torque converter automatic will be available as an option.
From 2019, the all-electric eSprinter will be added to the line-up, with a range of 60-80 miles and a payload that'll exceed one-tonne. All vans will get keyless start, which means delivery drivers will be able to park up and jump out for short-drops with the keyfob in their pocket, while a new smartphone app will allow authorised colleagues to unlock the van with their phone. The app will also track the van and provide business owners and fleet managers with daily reports to show where the van has been and how it's been used.
Like Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, the Sprinter will get the option of a 12.3-inch screen that will operate the latest MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience- infotainment system This will allow the driver to ask “where am I?” or issue verbal navigation instructions without taking their hand off the steering wheel. There will also be a whole host of driver aids, with automatic headlights, a self-park function and a rear cross traffic system that will warn the driver of approaching vehicles when backing out of a road or narrow driveway.