Sprinter goes distance
THE guys riding quad bikes around the back tracks of Hidden Valley raceway in Darwin must have thought we were lost.
After all, we were in a hulking Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van that looked more suited to courier work on the smooth bitumen surfaces of suburbia than the boggy tracks of the raceway’s hinterland. But looks can be deceiving. As we soon found out. Our driver and test pilot was James Hawker of Kerry Holden fleet sales.
He assured us the Sprinter could tackle the toughest off-road conditions – similar to the more traditional 4WD reliables such as Toyota, Mitsubishi and Nissan – without missing a beat.
And once we got the good oil from the quad bike team on a suitable testing ground, we set off to test the big Sprinter.
Not only did the Sprinter pass the test, it revelled in the going, making a mockery of its delivery van image. So what’s the deal with this AWD incarnation of the Sprinter?
It is a robust vehicle, with astounding off-road capability, powerful V6 diesel engine, cavernous interior, impressive safety ratings and is easy to handle but it hardly has the looks of your traditional macho off-road bush-basher.
Of course, it is not a vehicle that is pitched as a recreational vehicle for the weekend 4WD enthusiast but more a workhorse in remote regions. That is its niche and it fits the bill admirably. Its all-wheel-drive capability, introduced in 2009, gives the Sprinter the versatility to be at home in areas such as mining, tourism, emergency services, and telecommunications.
It is perfect for the often rugged and slippery surfaces in the Territory.
With its huge cargo space it can carry big payloads without affecting performance and the functionality of its seating configuration gives it the capacity to carry many passengers with the added benefit of safety features not found in some four-wheel-drives.
The new Sprinter 4x4 range utilises extensive allwheel-drive know-how developed by Mercedes-Benz, which has more than a century of experience with four-wheel-drive technology.
All models from the Sprinter 4x4 range feature select all-wheel-drive, allowing the driver to engage drive to all four wheels at the touch of a button, without the need for any manual activation. When in operation, front-to-rear drive torque is divided 35:65.
When in all-wheel drive mode, the Sprinter 4x4 uses electronic control to direct torque to the wheels with the greatest amount of grip and to reduce wheel slip to those with less traction.
All models in the Sprinter 4x4 come with the same safety and comfort features that have made the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter an award-winner and popular with customers from a variety of industries.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 is priced from $69,990 (excluding dealer delivery and statutory charges) and is available from Kerrys Automotive Group in Stuart Park.
Size-wise, customers can select from two body types (enclosed van or cab-chassis), two roof heights (standard and high-roof) and two wheel-bases (midand long-wheelbase) which, in turn, gives customers the choice of two body lengths.
Pictures: KATE FREESTONE