Sprinter goes dis­tance

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By DANNY DREW

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

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