When Mercedes-Benz set about developing the new Sprinter, it wanted to make life easier for fleet operators and drivers.
The end product is the most technologically advanced van available. It features a suite of built-in connected services, telematics and the latest driver-assistance technology.
The infotainment system is lifted from the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class passenger car and features the brand’s ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control system.
All versions are fitted with Active Brake Assist, an autonomous emergency braking system with pedestrian detection.
There are more than 1,700 variants of Sprinter available, including front-wheel drive models for the first time – meaning there should be a Sprinter to suit all needs.
An extensive options list including a range of additional driver aids enables further customisation.
Fleet operators can subscribe to a number of Mercedes Connect Pro services that use the vehicle’s in-built telematics. They include tracking, maintenance management and remote job management.
Our long-wheelbase 314 panel van test vehicle is powered by a 2.1-litre diesel engine, developing 140PS and 330Nm – effectively the middle of the range. It has a maximum payload of 1,304Kg and a maximum load volume of 9.5 cubic metres.
Cab comfort is high. The seats are supportive and drivers sit behind a stylish and logical dashboard.
However, reaching some of the switchgear can be tricky from the driver’s seat, as the dashboard is rather wide.
The standard-fit seven-inch touchscreen is easy to use and can be controlled using buttons on the steering wheel.
Our test vehicle didn’t feature the optional sat-nav, but smartphone connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard as well as digital radio and Bluetooth.
The steering wheel sits more upright than in most large vans and the pedal position is further back, providing a more car-like driving position.
The Sprinter is very easy to manoeuvre, thanks to super-light steering and excellent visibility.
For users that have to cover a lot of miles, the Sprinter provides a quiet cabin and comfortable ride. The optional nine-speed automatic trans-mission further improves driveability.
Reversing would be easier if parking sensors or a camera came as part of the standard package, but both are optional at £880.
The engine feels less eager than the similarly-powered unit in the Volkswagen Crafter, but it is more refined and impressed us with its frugality.
Officially the Sprinter returns an average of 35.8mpg. Our test vehicle had covered some 2,000 miles and was indicating an average of 36mpg – an impressive achievement. At a 65mph cruise the computer suggests 55mpg is being achieved – although this was with no payload.
Overall, we’d expect an operator to get between 32mpg and 36mpg as a realistic average.
If you look past the car-derived tech, the Sprinter is still a valid work vehicle. It’s robust, practical and comes with the safety net of Mercedes-Benz’s aftersales package, which includes a 24-hour mobile repair service.