Driving in a Sprinter wonderland
Posted: Mar 09, 2015
The Mercedes Sprinter is the archetypal commercial van and has become an iconic piece of motoring history over the last 20 years or so. Here we take a look at the history of this legendary commercial vehicle.
Mercedes Sprinter vans have been produced without break from 1995. The first Sprinter was produced in several guises: as a pick up, a panel van and as a traveliner. Mercedes Benz intended to meet the demands of anyone in need of a light commercial vehicle and to dominate that market. Even the earliest 1995 models were safety-oriented, being fitted as standard with ABS anti-locking technology in seven European countries, including Germany and the UK.
The Sprinter was an instant worldwide hit and over the years it has been badged with the Volkswagen, Freightliner and Dodge brands. Nowadays it is sold primarily as a Mercedes product but in the US it is still built by Freightliner. In Europe, re-engined Mercedes Sprinter vans are sold as the VW Crafter and VW LT.
Mercedes got it so right with the original Sprinter that they didn't update the range for the next 11 years, finally releasing the second generation Sprinter in 2006. Professional Van and Light Truck magazine voted the new version Van of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
The latest range of Mercedes Sprinter vans were released in 2013 and set a new standard for safety, efficiency and flexibility. The new Sprinter boasts a strikingly contemporary appearance and a new engine, which already meets the future European emissions standard (Euro VI). It is also available with a range of innovative safety features: Lane Keeping Assist, Highbeam Assist, optional Blind Spot Assist, optional Collision Prevention Assist and Crosswind Assist.
Particularly impressive is the 2013 Sprinter's fuel economy. The UK version of the van can achieve an amazing 43 miles per gallon, making it the most efficient van in its class.
The range received a 'refresh' in 2014, including a redesign of its grille to make it more upright and stylish, incorporating the famous Mercedes 'three slat' design. A new, 7 speed automatic version was also released, with a choice of 2.1 litre and 3.0 litre engines. LED running lights were added to the range, and more options were made available, including air suspension, Sat Nav and iPod integration.
Other notable variations of the Sprinter include the Camper Van version (2013) and the 4 x 4 model (2014). The Camper's right hand side is totally open plan from the front passenger door right back to the rear axle. It features a large living area that the front seats turn around into, and a roomy side-on bench seat that is pulled out to become a double bed. There's also a kitchen area and a bathroom complete with wardrobe.
4 x 4 versions are designed to cope with hostile terrain and winter weather to ensure that businesses can continue to function, no matter what the conditions may be like.Mercedes sprinter vans have been leading the light commercial vehicle market for 20 years, and continue to improve year on year, particularly in terms of fuel efficiency and safety. Over the coming years we can expect to see then become even more economical and a fully battery-powered version must surely be imminent.
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