The new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has finally landed in South Africa, following its launch in Germany last year.
The Sprinter is well known in South African taxi circles – especially in the long-distance segment – with this industry absorbing around 80% of all Sprinters sold in the local market, says Mercedes-Benz Vans South Africa VP Nadia Trimmel.
The Sprinter is, however, also working to expand its reach as a leisure vehicle, camper van – a nifty one, indeed – a tourism carrier, emergency response vehicle and panel van.
The new Sprinter is the third generation of the vehicle originally launched in 1995 in the large-van segment.
Since then, 3.4-million Sprinters have been sold worldwide.
In South Africa, the vehicles have travelled a combined estimated 40-billion kilometres over the last 20 years in the taxi industry alone, says Trimmel.
At the end of 2016 – the last year Mercedes-Benz South Africa reported local sales in detail – the Sprinter had a 50% market share in the large-van segment in South Africa.
Trimmel notes only that Mercedes-Benz Vans South Africa continues to notch up the highest market share in the large van segment of all Sprinter markets worldwide.
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Taxi owners should be exceptionally pleased with the number of refinements on offer in the new Sprinter, especially the 8.5% improvement in fuel efficiency, as well as the 4.5% improvement on cents per kilometre operating cost promised by Mercedes-Benz Vans.
The Sprinter is available locally in a number of variants – depending on body length, number of seats, payload, cargo space, roof height and equipment options.
Maximum cargo volume is up to 15.5 m3, with a gross vehicle mass of up to 5.5 t.
An all-new 3.49 t variant allows drivers with a Code 8/Code B licence to pilot the commercial vehicle.
The new Sprinter Inkanyezi (minibus taxi) conversion comes in three different grades, with options ranging from the basics like three-point safety belts on every seat, through to USB ports in the rear, free-flow rear air conditioner, rear speakers and an electric sliding door at the top end.
A number of new safety options are also on offer.
Standard assistance systems include cross wind assist, as well as hill start assist, which makes it easier to start up hills from a stationary position.
The list of optional features include lane keeping assist, a reversing camera showing the area behind the vehicle in the rear-view mirror and a parking package incorporating a 360-degree camera.
Another new optional feature is active distance assist Distronic.
This system automatically regulates the distance from the vehicle ahead. In the event of the vehicle in front decreasing speed suddenly, the system will bring the vehicle to a complete stop.
A rain sensor and wiper with an integrated wet wiper system ensures optimum visibility, especially during the wiping process.
Active brake assist (ABA) aims to reduce road traffic accidents.
In an emergency situation, ABA warns the driver of oncoming danger and, depending on the distance and size of the obstacle ahead, sends out an acoustic or visual warning to alert the driver.
The new Sprinter makes use of the previous Sprinter’s 2.2 l, four-cylinder Mercedes-Benz OM651 diesel engine, with two output levels, at 84 kW and 120 kW.
The 84 kW engine offers 300 Nm of torque and should be a solid entry-level solution for businesses in the courier express and parcel segment.
The 120 kW variant – with 380 Nm of torque – benefits from an increase of 10 kW of power as compared with its predecessor.
The 3 l, six-cylinder OM642 engine on offer delivers 140 kW of power and 440 Nm of torque.
The Sprinter is available in manual and auto transmission.
Inside, the new MBUX (Mercedes-Benz user experience) multimedia system is available in a 7-inch and 10.25-inch display screen with high definition resolution, both controlled either with touch-enabled steering wheel controls, or an all-new voice control system, that works 99% without a hitch.
Pricing for the new Sprinter freight carrier starts at R461 783, excluding VAT and carbon dioxide tax. Pricing for the panel van starts at R501 448.