By Khulekani Dumisa
The Sprinter has been around since 1995 but shows no sign of slowing down in leading the segment it pioneered back then. Competitors have entered the fold and the Sprinter is hoping to keep ahead notwithstanding. Locally the Sprinter services mainly the minibus taxi industry but also plays a significant role in logistics. Potential growth areas that are being targeted the tourism sector and the burgeoning campervan space. Having launched internationally last year with a whole host improvements, we think the all new Sprinter has what it takes to maintain its pole position.
A new improved interior
Hoping inside the Sprinter, you may be forgiven for thinking you hoping into just another passenger car. The improvements include ergonomically shaped seats, keyless start and an enhanced air-conditioning system. If space, as is the case with many businesses is what you need, various stowage compartments ensure that everything has its place. Adding to the aesthetic improves is the inclusion of the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX or “Hey Merceds”) which makes the Sprinter feel ultra-modern. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the system is intuitive and offers two options: a 7-inch and 10.25-inch display screen with HD resolution. We tested the system on launch and we were impressed by how easy it is to use.
A safer Sprinter
Knowing the role that the Sprinter plays in the economy, Mercedes-Benz has invested extensively into the safety systems of the Sprinter. The standard assistance systems available for the new Sprinter include Cross Wind Assist – which makes van journeys considerably safer, especially in adverse conditions on any terrain – and Hill Start Assist, which makes it easier to start up hills from a stationary position. Additionally, the list of optional features is extensive, making the Sprinter one of the safest large vans on South African roads. These include DISTRONIC, Lane Keeping Assist, a reversing camera, and a Parking Package with 360-degree camera, Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Brake Assist (ABA). Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC automatically regulates the distance from the vehicle ahead. In the event of the vehicle in front decreasing speed, the system will slow the vehicle down up to a complete stop. ABA aims to reduce road traffic accidents. In an emergency situation, ABA warns the driver of the 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 People’s taxi
One of the key areas of revenue for the Sprinter is the mini-bus taxi industry. In order to extend its competitive edge, the new Sprinter Inkanyezi conversion comes in three different grades, with options ranging from the basics like three-point safety belts on every seat, through to USB ports (type-A) in the rear, free flow rear air conditioner, rear speakers and many more customer required additions, including an electric sliding door at the top end.
The Sprinter has been a tricky buy for some owner drivers who only have a Code 8/Code B licence. In order to address this new 3.49 tonne GVM Sprinter allows drivers with a Code 8/Code B licence to pilot the commercial vehicle. This will no doubt prove very useful to family owned businesses where the driver is usually the owner.
Two engines are on offer. A four cylinder engine with two power outputs: 84 kW and 120 kW. The economical 84kW engine offers 300Nm of torque whereas the 120 kW (with a 10 kW increase in power compared to its predecessor) engine offers 380Nm of torque. At the top sits a three-litre, six-cylinder OM642 engine that delivers 140kW and 440Nm.
The new sprinter is priced from R461,783.
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