What’s the fastest vehicle on the motorway? A Ferrari or a Porsche driven by a Premier League footballer maybe? Nope. It’s got to be a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
That’s because something strange seems to happen to almost everybody who gets behind the wheel of one. They’ve just got to put their foot down.
Sprinter was extensively revamped in 2009 and equipped with an all-new 2.1-litre diesel. It’s marketed at 95hp/250Nm, 129hp/305Nm and 163hp/360Nm, and all engines have been fully compliant with Euro 5 exhaust emission regulations since their introduction.
If that’s not enough power for you, then you’ll be glad to know that the V6 3.0-litre diesel used in the outgoing model has been retained. It has, however, been extensively re-engineered to comply with Euro 5 and now offers 190hp and peak torque of 440Nm.
No matter whether you pick the 2.1-litre or the V6, a six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard. A five-speed auto ’box is on offer as an option.
Sprinter grosses at from 3,000kg to 5,000kg while load cubes range from 7.5m3 to 17.0m3. Payloads extend from 740kg to 2,514kg.
Climb into the cab and you’ll enjoy lots of storage space. You’ll be looking at a dashboard crafted out of high-quality materials too; not something you’ll necessarily find in all of Mercedes-Benz’s competitors.
Out on the highway Sprinter boasts highly responsive steering, sharp handling and a compliant ride. The more powerful models offer exemplary performance, pulling strongly and smoothly away from rest and proving perfectly able to sit comfortably at the maximum legal motorway speed for hours on end.
On the downside we’ve driven two or three Sprinters that suffered from a somewhat clumsy, stodgy gearchange. Hopefully that’s a problem that’s now been ironed out.
Build quality is exemplary. It almost seems as though the vehicle has been carefully sculpted out of a solid block of metal. Sprinter is covered by a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty and service intervals are set at 24,000 miles.
Up for grabs as a 4x4, don’t forget that Sprinter is also sold as a chassis cab, a chassis crew cab, a dropside and a Traveliner minibus, or that you can obtain a version that will run on compressed natural gas. You can also buy a Sprinter Dualiner, with rear seating accommodation and a cargo area at the back.
Don’t forget either that Sprinter has a bigger brother in the shape of the Vario. Grossing at either 5.99 tonnes or 7.49 tonnes, it’s powered by a 4.2-litre diesel at 129hp/500Nm, 156hp/610Nm or 177hp/675Nm. Top payload ranges from 2,160kg to 2,540kg while cargo space runs from 10.4m3 to 17.4m3. It’s also sold as a chassis cab and chassis crew cab.