SMARTER SPRINTER

With a touch of glitz and glam­our, MercedesBenz launched the lat­est gen­er­a­tion Sprinter range, re­cently, in­clud­ing an at­ten­tion- grab­bing, al­l­elec­tric model.

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WITH A TOUCH of glitz and glam­our, Mercedes-Benz launched the lat­est gen­er­a­tion Sprinter range re­cently, in­clud­ing an at­ten­tion-grab­bing, all-elec­tric model. Cobey Bar­tels re­ports.

THE NEW GEN­ER­A­TION of Mercedes-Benz light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles is headed for Aus­tralia in the fourth quar­ter of this year – al­ready a mar­ket leader down un­der, but with even more to of­fer this time.

Since the Sprinter was first launched in 1995 about 3.4 mil­lion units have been sold, but Mercedes-Benz isn’t com­pla­cent, aim­ing to de­liver the most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles to mar­ket. With a fo­cus on con­nec­tiv­ity, user ex­pe­ri­ence and ef­fi­ciency, Mercedes-Benz show­cased its up­dated range of pow­er­trains, in­te­rior tech­nol­ogy and an all- elec­tric of­fer­ing.

The holis­tic sys­tems ap­proach taken for the new Sprinter saw the in­tro­duc­tion of the Mercedes-Benz User Ex­pe­ri­ence (MBUX) and telem­at­ics func­tion­al­ity, bet­ter equip­ping the ve­hi­cle for com­mer­cial fleet use. A high level of ve­hi­cle cus­tomis­abil­ity is of­fered, with a to­tal of 1734 dif­fer­ent vari­ants based on com­bi­na­tions of body type, powertrain, cab con­fig­u­ra­tion, length and cargo space height.

Ul­ti­mately, this al­lows for a bet­ter off-the-shelf fit for a range of com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing small buses and pas­sen­ger-trans­port vans.

The max­i­mum load ca­pac­ity within the new model range is 17 cu­bic me­tres, with ton­nages of up to 5.5 tonnes de­pend­ing on the con­fig­u­ra­tion.

Two ex­cit­ing new ad­di­tions to the Sprinter line-up are front-wheel- drive mod­els and the all- elec­tric, zero- emis­sion eSprinter. The front-wheel- drive Sprinter is avail­able as a 9-speed au­to­matic and 6-speed man­ual and of­fers 50kg in in­creased pay­load and lower- cost base mod­els, adding to the man­u­fac­turer’s rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive sta­ples.

In ad­di­tion to the in­creased pay­load, the front-wheel- drive op­tions have 80mm lower load­ing edges, tak­ing the strain off op­er­a­tors.

The 9-speed au­to­matic torque con­verter trans­mis­sion is a first in the large van seg­ment, bring­ing a wider range of gears to im­prove en­gine econ­omy and drive­abil­ity.

By van or small bus stan­dards, the safety fea­tures on the new Sprinter are top notch, with Distronic radar-based cruise con­trol, ac­tive brake as­sist, ac­tive lane-keep­ing as­sist, at­ten­tion as­sist, rain sen­sor, and 360- de­gree vis­i­bil­ity.

EM­PHA­SIS ON STYLE

Dur­ing the launch event in Ger­many, a point con­sis­tently men­tioned was that MercedesBenz be­lieves a ve­hi­cle rep­re­sents a fleet’s im­age and so ex­te­rior de­sign is an im­por­tant fac­tor.

The Sprinter was de­signed to per­form but also look the part and, based on ini­tial im­pres­sions, it shares styling cues with the pas­sen­ger car range. The in­te­rior was a cut above on the new Sprinter, with a con­nected user ex­pe­ri­ence gen­er­ally re­served for high-end cars – op­tional ex­tras in­clude a park­ing pack­age that of­fers a 360-de­gree view.

The MBUX mul­ti­me­dia sys­tem the third-gen Sprinter scores - which was only just un­veiled on the new A- Class - of­fers con­nec­tiv­ity via a 10.25-inch HD touch­screen dis­play. Hardly tech­nol­ogy you’d ex­pect in a com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to Mercedes-Benz, but it’s all about pro­vid­ing a bet­ter user ex­pe­ri­ence for driv­ers.

MBUX has voice con­trol and some­thing like run­ning low on fuel means the sys­tem sug­gests nearby petrol sta­tions and the best route to take. A telem­at­ics-style sys­tem is also built into the range, called Mercedes PRO, of­fer­ing ve­hi­cle and driver lo­ca­tion, dig­i­tal driver’s log­book, ve­hi­cle lo­gis­tics, fleet com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and main­te­nance man­age­ment.

LAST-MILE DE­LIV­ERY

The all- elec­tric eSprinter was a hit at the launch event, and will be­come avail­able in some mar­kets for or­der­ing from Novem­ber 2019. It is aimed at de­liv­er­ing un­par­al­leled ef­fi­ciency within the last-mile de­liv­ery in­dus­try.

When asked whether the elec­tric model would make its way down un­der, Mercedes-Benz

Top: The new Sprinter, show­cased in a range of con­fig­u­ra­tions high­light­ing the model’s ver­sa­til­ity Be­low: The fo­cus for Benz is on pro­vid­ing the ul­ti­mate work space for driv­ers, from er­gonomics and com­fort through to the Mercedes-Benz User Ex­pe­ri­ence...

Above: The all-elec­tric, ze­roe­mis­sions model was im­mensely pop­u­lar at the Ger­man launch. Far right: It’s no Fruit Ninja, but eVan Ready is still pretty cool.

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