by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

The new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: Now safer, more powerful and more efficient than ever

It has given its name to an entire vehicle class – around the world the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is synonymous with large vans with a permissible gross vehicle weight of 3.5 t. The Sprinter has always been the leader in its class in terms of innovation, and now it is once more demonstrating this to impressive effect: with five new safety systems, engines meeting the future Euro VI emissions standard and a striking look, the new Sprinter is again setting the benchmark. And one thing is clear: with outstandingly low consumption figures of up to 6.3 l/100 km, it is streets ahead when it comes to best-in-class fuel consumption too.

World premiere for new safety systems

Traditionally the Sprinter has been the pioneer for driver assistance systems. In the new Sprinter, five new assistance systems – including some world premieres in the van segment – are helping to reduce the number of accidents even further.

Celebrating their world premiere in the Sprinter are the standard-fit Crosswind Assist, Collision Prevention Assist and Blind Spot Assist. Also new are Highbeam Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. The developers at Mercedes-Benz are convinced that the use of electronic aids in the van segment will have an extremely positive impact on accident statistics.

Crosswind Assist will form part of the standard equipment as a feature of the Electronic Stability Program. The other assistance systems can be ordered as individual extras or logically compiled packages. As a result, each buyer can individually tailor their Sprinter to the respective application.

In addition, Mercedes-Benz has also enhanced the driving dynamics of the Sprinter even further. A lowering of the chassis has helped not only to reduce wind resistance and consumption, but also to further increase road safety and make loading and unloading easier.

World's first van to meet the future Euro VI emissions standard

The new Sprinter is the first van to emerge with a complete engine range which complies with the future Euro VI emissions standard. This means a drastic reduction in emission levels for nitrogen oxide (NOx), hydrocarbons (THC) and particulate matter. The Sprinter achieves the strictest limits with BlueTEC engine technology and SCR technology featuring the injection of AdBlue into the exhaust gas. This has already proven highly effective in several hundred thousand Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles.

The performance offered by the diesel engine range remains unchanged: it comprises four and six-cylinder engines spanning outputs from 70 kW (95 hp) to 140 kW (190 hp).

The developers have made use of the additional exhaust gas aftertreatment to optimise injection characteristics, the combustion process and the charge pressure. This results in low fuel consumption and quieter combustion. In addition, the drive assemblies and ancillary components have been consistently tuned for low consumption. This has been applied in terms of the transmission, rear axle and also intelligent alternator management.

As an alternative to the diesel engines, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is also available with a supercharged four-cylinder petrol engine with direct injection. It produces 115 kW (156 hp) from a displacement of 1.8 l. There is also a natural gas variant based on this engine offering identical output.

Power transmission is taken care of by either the six-speed ECO Gear manual transmission or the seven-speed 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission with torque converter, the only one of its kind to be used in a van.

The most economical van in its class

The combination of the highly economical diesel engines, optimised drive train, ancillary equipment and the BlueEFFICIENCY plus package results in combined fuel consumption of at least 6.3 l/100 km – a sensational new record figure for the Sprinter's vehicle class. But it is not only this which makes the new Sprinter an economic miracle: its standard specification in Europe now also includes the ASSYST maintenance computer. This helps to extends the already long maintenance intervals yet again, to as much as 60,000 km.

Exterior and interior receive further upgrades

Visually, the new Sprinter also makes a clear-cut and striking impression. In keeping with the current Mercedes-Benz design line, the radiator grille appears more upright and self-assured. The three radiator louvres are swept back and perforated. This not only underscores the dynamic impression, but at the same time also increases the air flow. The brand's hallmark radiator grille is made more striking thanks to a bevelled surround.

The headlamps feature sharper contours, and a particularly striking feature is the masking of the reflector housings which divides the headlamps into individual segments. The new bonnet is higher, resulting in improved protection for pedestrians, and the bumper features a more pronounced shape. The detailed attention paid to the design on its underside makes it reminiscent of an SUV. From the rear, the new Sprinter is still recognisable from its two-compartment tail lights.

The indisputably exemplary interior has been upgraded even further. New seat upholstery and a new cover provide for enhanced comfort, the steering wheel features better grip with a thick rim, and the fresh air vents are embellished with chrome applications. The shift lever knob sports a new design too.

With the new radio generation, state-of-the-art consumer electronics featuring Bluetooth telephony with telephone keypad and phone book have found their way into the Sprinter, along with the Becker MAP PILOT navigation system.

Tested over millions of kilometres, commercial release scheduled for the beginning of June

The developers of the new Sprinter placed particular emphasis on intensive testing. With endurance tests covering more than eight million kilometres and also intensive customer trials involving practical applications, the high quality of the new Sprinter has already been put to the test.

The new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter will be available to order from 1 June of this year, with deliveries commencing in September.

II. The best Sprinter of all time: safer and more economical, environmentally friendly and attractive than ever

As the undisputed number one in its class, the Sprinter is now even more economical, safer, environmentally friendly and attractive. After seven years and sales totalling around one million vehicles, the new Sprinter is set to further bolster the successful model's leading position. It is the first van to be available with engines complying with the future Euro VI emissions standard. Comprehensive efficiency measures result in an outstanding fuel consumption benchmark of just 6.3 l/100 km, corresponding to 165 g CO2/km. New safety features raise the already exemplary standard of safety to an even higher level. And last but not least, drivers of the new Sprinter can look forward to a further enhanced cockpit with new electronic features and particularly dynamic and at the same time comfortable handling. The new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter will go on sale on 1 June, with deliveries beginning in September 2013.

A new Sprinter with striking new looks

Visually, the new Sprinter immediately makes a clear-cut and striking impression. Fully in keeping with the current Mercedes-Benz design line, the radiator grille appears more upright and self-assured, lending the new Sprinter a more imposing presence. The three radiator louvres are swept back from top to bottom and are perforated. This increases the air flow and clearly establishes a close visual link to a consistent design line from the Citan to the new trucks from Mercedes-Benz.

The Mercedes star now rests on a vividly highlighted base. A bevelled surround highlights the signature Mercedes-Benz radiator grille.

The new headlamps feature sharper contours and lend the Sprinter a concentrated and energetic yet by no means aggressive look. A striking feature is the masking of the reflector housings. A surround divides the headlamps into individual segments, emphasizes the Sprinter's eyes like an eyeliner and provides the entire front end with a substantially more cutting-edge appearance. In the bottom of the housing there is space for the LED light strips of the daytime running lamps.

The new bonnet is higher, resulting in improved protection for pedestrians. It also features more pronounced contours, lending the Sprinter an air of authority.

The same applies to the new bumper featuring a more pronounced upward sweep under the headlamps and bolder lines. The air inlet in the middle is now set back, providing the Sprinter's face with added dynamism and creating an impression of greater poise on the road. The opening continues to function as a step to facilitate cleaning of the windscreen. The "hands-on" impression created by the new Sprinter is heightened by the detailed attention paid to design on the underside of the bumper, whose appearance is reminiscent of an SUV.

The Sprinter's rear end with its striking, centrally positioned Mercedes star has remained largely unchanged. The Sprinter now benefits from two-compartment tail lights, however. The signage has been redesigned. The "BlueTEC" lettering alludes to new developments in the engine technology.

The new design visualises the Sprinter's high quality. This is manifested in the precise joints, the "shingled" headlamp joint overlapping the bonnet and the precise lines of the frame around the grille, which are also conducive to easy fitting.

The world's first van featuring engines complying with the Euro VI emissions standard

One of the new Sprinter's highlights is its drive system: it is the first van to come with a complete range of engines complying with the Euro VI emissions standard.

Best-in-class fuel consumption of only 6.3 l/100 km

At the same time, the new Sprinter stands apart more than ever as the van offering the greatest economy. An outstanding case in point is the new benchmark combined fuel consumption of 6.3 l/100 km in combined mode. This corresponds to CO2 emissions of 165 g/km and is on a par with passenger cars. At the same time, the new Sprinter undercuts its decidedly fuel-efficient predecessor by more than one litre per 100 km, depending on the model concerned. In order to attain such fuel efficiency, the developers at Mercedes-Benz have scrutinised the entire drive train down to the last detail and implemented a diverse range of measures.

Euro VI: limit for nitrogen oxides attainable with SCR technology

The Euro VI emissions standard entails markedly stricter emission limits for light-duty commercial vehicles. While the permitted emissions for CO2 remain unchanged, the emission limit for nitrogen oxides (NOx) is to be lowered dramatically by 80 percent to a mere 0.4 g/kWh. At the same time, the permissible level for hydrocarbons (THC) is to be cut by 70 percent to 0.13 g/kWh and the limit for particulate matter is to be reduced by a further 50 percent.

Such a sharp reduction is not achievable through engine modifications alone. Mercedes-Benz is thus resorting to an exhaust gas aftertreatment technology which has already proven highly effective for almost ten years now, covering many billions of kilometres in several hundred thousand Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles from the Atego to the Actros: SCR technology (selective catalytic reduction) employing BlueTEC engine technology and the injection of AdBlue into the exhaust gas.

BlueTEC engine technology: clean, economical, tried and tested

BlueTEC engine technology reduces nitrogen oxides after combustion in the exhaust gas by more than 80 percent by means of the aqueous solution AdBlue. This standardised fluid consists of approximately two-thirds demineralised water and one third synthetic urea. AdBlue is injected extremely finely into the exhaust gas by means of an electronically controlled metering unit and is subsequently swirled around in the flow of exhaust gas. The heat converts the AdBlue into ammonia. In the downstream SCR catalytic converter, nitrogen and ammonia are converted into harmless water and nitrogen by means of a chemical catalytic reaction.

Mercedes-Benz is additionally able to draw on extensive experience with the SCR system and BlueTEC technology: several tens of thousands of Sprinters with this technology on board have been delivered to North America over the past three years. The BlueTEC engine technology has also been demonstrating its capabilities in Mercedes-Benz trucks and buses for almost ten years now.

AdBlue injection on board the Sprinter is controlled by the DCU (Dosing Control Unit), equipped with its own control unit. An advantage of this set-up is that only minor intervention in the engine control unit is necessary. The system is modular in design. To enable exact dosing of the injected AdBlue, the DCU is linked via the CAN databus to the engine control unit.

AdBlue is now available at virtually all filling stations in Europe and in various types and sizes of container. The price per litre is around half that of diesel fuel. As AdBlue freezes at minus eleven degrees Celsius, the supply unit on the Sprinter is heated. Conversely, the AdBlue injector is air-cooled. As AdBlue has an extremely high creeping capability, Mercedes-Benz has provided all of the system's electrical lines with capillary stops. The AdBlue tank is accommodated at the front right of the engine compartment as seen in the direction of travel and has a capacity of 18 litres. This quantity is sufficient for around 6000 km, depending on the specific type of use for the vehicle.

When the supply of AdBlue is on the wane, an initial warning appears in the instrument cluster display around 1000 km before the tank is likely to be empty, depending on the driver's individual driving profile, and a yellow warning lamp lights up. If the driver fails to replenish the supply of AdBlue, the engine speed will be reduced to around 75 percent approx. 300 km later, and some 500 km after this the vehicle's maximum speed will be limited to 20 km/h.

Optimisation of points of detail on the engines

The essential features, performance data and torque curves of the engines themselves have remained unchanged in the course of the upgrade to Euro VI. The developers have nevertheless seized the opportunity offered by the BlueTEC exhaust gas aftertreatment process to optimise the injection characteristics, the combustion process and the charge pressure. This results in low fuel consumption and quieter combustion. A modified pre-injection process leads to even smoother running.

Meanwhile, the good performance of the engines remains unaltered. In terms of performance characteristics the driver will not notice any difference, whether he is at the wheel of a Sprinter complying with Euro 5b+ or Euro VI. This is an important aspect for fleets whose drivers use different vans, for example. Accordingly, the available engine variants and final drive ratios have also remained unaltered.

The developers have additionally taken the opportunity to enhance the impressive ride comfort of the Sprinter. Handling has been noticeably optimised even further with regard to load change in the manual and automatic transmissions.

Highly economical BlueTEC four-cylinder engine, three output ratings

The diesel engines for the Sprinter centre on the four-cylinder OM 651 with a displacement of 2.15 l. With an 83 mm bore and a 99 mm stroke, the engine features an undersquare configuration in the interests of high tractive power. The two overhead camshafts actuate a total of 16 intake and exhaust valves. The camshafts are driven by a combination of gearwheels and a short chain. The common rail injection system operates at a maximum injection pressure of 1800 bar. The fuel is injected by means of magnetic injectors and seven-hole injection nozzles. Charging takes place at all times via a two-stage exhaust-gas turbocharger system.

Maximum torque is available right from low engine speeds and over a broad engine speed range. The engines attain both a high specific power output and high torque. This downsizing is crucial to low fuel consumption, accompanied by low emissions and optimum weight.

A Lanchester balancer with two counter-rotating shafts, the camshaft drive positioned further to the rear and a two-mass flywheel all contribute to the engine's extremely smooth running characteristics. A combination of exhaust gas recirculation with two-stage cooling and the SCR technology with AdBlue injection for the BlueTEC engines and a particulate filter ensures clean exhaust emissions.

The four-cylinder OM 651 is available in three output variants:

- 70 kW (95 hp) at 3800 rpm, torque 250 Nm at 1400-2400 rpm,

- 95 kW (129 hp) at 3800 rpm, torque 305 Nm at 1200-2400 rpm,

- 120 kW (163 hp) at 3800 rpm, torque 360 Nm at 1400-2400 rpm.

BlueTEC six-cylinder engine: brilliant technology, high comfort

It is the only six-cylinder to be found in a European van: with its brilliant technology, the V6 OM 642 with a displacement of 3.0 l is a feat of engine construction. The undersquare engine (bore x stroke: 83 x 92 mm) is based on an aluminium crankcase with a V angle of 72 degrees. Offset rod journals and a balancer shaft result in an extremely smooth-running engine. Its technical refinements include a total of four duplex chain-driven overhead camshafts and common rail injection with piezo injectors and eight spray holes per nozzle.

The six-cylinder OM 642 comes in a single output rating:

- 140 kW (190 hp) at 3800 rpm, torque 440 Nm at 1600-2600 rpm.

Sprinter meeting the Euro 5 standard remains available

Those who do not wish to make the step to Euro VI at once when buying a new Sprinter can still purchase a van designed to comply with the Euro 5 emissions standard. Emissions standard Euro 5b+ to be more precise, as from September the Euro 5 standard is to become stricter for all vehicles homologated prior to September 2011, with the limit for particulate emissions dropping by 10 percent from 5 to 4.5 mg/km of particulate matter.

The Euro 5b+ and Euro VI Sprinters are identical in terms of output variants, maximum torque and torque curves. Sprinters complying with the Euro 5b+ emissions standard also benefit from fuel-saving modifications such as the optimised rear axle or the optimised 7-speed 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission with torque converter.

Petrol engine: focus on the M 271 rated at 115 kW (156 hp)

Mercedes-Benz has reorganised the other engines, which are also available as Euro VI-compliant variants. The main petrol engine is the supercharged four-cylinder M 271 direct-injection engine with a displacement of 1.8 l and an output of 115 kW (156 hp), which has proven its worth in many of the brand's models. In future, the V6 cylinder with a displacement of 3.5 l will only be available outside of Europe. A natural gas variant of the M 271 with the same output has been developed for the Sprinter NGT. The Sprinter NGT is available both for monovalent and bivalent natural gas operation.

The four-cylinder M 271 is available as a petrol and natural gas engine with the following output rating:

- 115 kW (156 hp) at 5000 rpm, torque 240 Nm at 3000-4000 rpm.

Ancillary equipment fine-tuned for maximum efficiency throughout

The exceptionally low fuel consumption of the new Sprinter is not attributable solely to the engine technology. The engineers at Mercedes-Benz have also fine-tuned the Sprinter's ancillary equipment for maximum economy.

Intelligent generator management ensures that the alternator gives priority to charging the battery during braking and on the overrun. During acceleration and cruising, the full engine output is available to the drive system. The electric fuel pump controls the fuel supply for the Sprinter according to requirements, i.e. with a variable delivery rate. Last but not least, the compressor of the optional air conditioning system incorporates a freewheel, so that it is only active when the air conditioning is on.

Six-speed manual transmission and seven-speed automatic transmission even more economical

The ECO Gear six-speed manual transmission now also operates even more economically, thanks to the use of a low-friction oil.

The 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission with torque converter – the only

7-speed automatic transmission to feature in a van anywhere in the world – has also undergone further refinement at Mercedes-Benz for maximum fuel economy. Under the designation 7G-TRONIC PLUS and with numerous fuel-reducing measures, it is now also combined with a fast-acting ECO start/stop function – another first in this segment. The improved damping technology of the 7G-TRONIC PLUS results in a lower tendency to generate noise and hum. The reduced slip on the lockup clutch gives a more direct connection to the accelerator pedal and therefore provides greater agility.

The development engineers have additionally adapted the automatic transmission's shift points precisely to the engine characteristics, also optimising the oil's heat-up behaviour in the cold running phase in this respect, along with the torque converter's hydraulic circuit. This results in faster heating-up of the oil, therefore minimising frictional losses after cold starting compared with the five-speed automatic transmission. It is also deployed on the models with manually selectable all-wheel drive, pre-installation for Telma retarder or low frame.

Rear axle with reduced friction for greater economy

The developers have tweaked all the available points of detail in order to achieve maximum efficiency for the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. A key example here is the driven rear axle. In the interests of low-friction and economical running, modifications have been undertaken here right down to the microgeometry of the differential's tooth flanks, the precision of installation has been further improved and the oil flow has been optimised to reduce churning loss while the axle is running. These measures have been applied to all axle variants.

To minimise friction, a fuel-efficient engine oil developed specifically for vans, passenger cars and heavy-duty commercial vehicles is used. Particularly easy-running ball bearings are another new feature. At the same time, the axis has also undergone extensive testing. The overall result is a reduction in fuel consumption for the complete vehicle of up to 0.2 l/100 km, depending on the operating conditions.

BlueEFFICIENCY package lowers fuel consumption

This inherent fuel efficiency for the Sprinter is further enhanced by the optional BlueEFFICIENCY package, which provides for an additional reduction in fuel consumption of up to 0.5 l/100 km. This corresponds to 13.3 g CO2/km. The package is available for all weight classes and model variants of the Sprinter.

It consists of several modules. The ECO start/stop function shuts the engine down automatically when the vehicle is stationary, as long as no gear is engaged and the clutch pedal is not pressed. In vehicles with the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission, stopping in gear D by stepping on the foot brake is sufficient to activate this function.

The generator management system has been optimised for even greater efficiency. The same applies to the further enhanced fuel pump, which controls the supply pressure and flow rate according to the prevailing requirements. The ECO power steering pump is only activated when power assistance is actually required. Finally, tyres with reduced rolling resistance lower the required level of energy while the vehicle is in motion.

Outstandingly low fuel consumption with BlueEFFICIENCY plus

The Sprinter 213 or 313 BlueTEC with manual transmission and the BlueEFFICIENCY package plus is the right choice for those aiming to minimise fuel consumption in solo operation. This lowers fuel consumption by a further 0.3 l/100 km. The efficiency package additionally includes an electrically activated on-demand suction-type fan for the radiator and the rear-axle ratio of i=3.692 which has long been available. The package is available for closed variants up to a maximum gross vehicle weight of 3.5 t.

With BlueEFFICIENCY plus, as a crewbus (panel van with truck registration in brackets) the new Sprinter meeting the Euro VI emissions standard runs on 7.7 (7.7) l/100 km in urban mode, 5.7 (6.4-6.5) l/100 km in extra-urban mode and 6.3 (6.9-7.0) l/100 km in combined mode. These sensational figures not only represent a record for this weight class – until recently, they appeared unattainable.

The Sprinter complying with Euro 5b+ is also extremely fuel-efficient

Both efficiency packages are available not only for the new Euro VI-compliant Sprinter BlueTEC, but also for the new Sprinter configured for compliance with the Euro 5b+ emissions standard, which benefits equally from the comprehensive range of additional efficiency measures. The fuel consumption of this configuration also drops to as low as 6.3 l/100 km in combined mode, which is more than one litre per 100 km less than its predecessor in some instances.

Maintenance intervals of up to 60,000 km

It is not only its low fuel consumption that makes the new Sprinter the economic miracle of its class. The ASSYST maintenance computer, which now forms part of the standard specification in Europe, determines when oil changes are due in accordance with the vehicle's individual level of wear. This helps to extend the already long maintenance intervals yet again, to as much as 60,000 km.

The new Sprinter: an excellent track record right from the word go

Right from its market launch, the new Sprinter has an excellent track record to its name. It has demonstrated its reliability in comprehensive trials, from endurance tests at top speed to extreme short-distance tests in Scandinavia at icy temperatures with a high proportion of idling and a large number of stops. In all, the new Sprinter has covered around eight million kilometres in endurance tests, including tough deployment by customers in real-life traffic. These operations spanned a highly diverse spectrum of driving profiles, including service with a company which covers up to 280,000 km annually, using alternating drivers in a relay system.

Even more dynamic chassis, simpler loading and unloading

A lowering of the chassis by approx. 30 mm reduces drag on the new Sprinter, also contributing to the low fuel consumption. At the same time, the resultant lower centre of gravity results in a noticeable increase in driving dynamics and steering precision when cornering at speed.

Last but not least, these measures also lower the entrance height and the loading edge substantially. This provides for enhanced convenience and facilitates loading and unloading. The lowering of the vehicle is based on new progressive tuning of the suspension and damping without compromising on ride comfort. The lowered chassis features as standard for all Sprinters with a gross vehicle weight of 3.5 t, but can also be deselected at no extra charge.

Five new assistance systems help to avoid accidents

A key focus in developing the new Sprinter was on a whole range of new assistance systems – including world premieres in the van segment. New features to be premiered with the new Sprinter are Crosswind Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Highbeam Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. This array of new assistance systems underscores Mercedes-Benz Vans' pioneering role in safety technology and as a driving force behind innovative developments.

The additional new assistance systems spawn a crucial benefit: the electronic aids will help to prevent many accidents. The developers at Mercedes-Benz are convinced that this new generation of assistance systems in the van segment will have an extremely positive impact on accident statistics.

World premiere: Crosswind Assist for vans

The new Sprinter is the first van in the world to feature Crosswind Assist – a milestone in safety technology and part of the standard specification initially for the closed variants up to 3.5 t, with the heavier and open model variants to follow in due course. Crosswind Assist virtually fully compensates for the effects of gusts of wind on the vehicle, within the bounds of physical possibilities. The need for countersteering in response to sudden gusts is markedly reduced, relieving the strain on the driver. Crosswind Assist is based on the standard-fit Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) and is activated at speeds of 80 km/h and over.

Braking intervention counteracts drifting

Crosswind Assist detects forces acting on the vehicle as a result of crosswind and gusts by reference to the data supplied by the sensors for yaw rate and lateral acceleration which form part of the standard-fit ESP® system. In response to such effects, the assistance system specifically brakes individual wheels on the side facing towards the wind. This leads to a steering effect and prevents the vehicle from drifting dangerously off course as a result of yawing or rotary movement.

Crosswind Assist helps the driver to remain on course in the event of sudden crosswind – e.g. on bridges or when overtaking trucks. The influence of the wind is noticeably reduced.

The sensors of the ESP® system are able to identify the strength of constant crosswind as well as sudden gusts and additionally record the angle of attack. The reaction by Crosswind Assist also accords due consideration to the vehicle's speed, vehicle load, load position and the driver's steering behaviour. If the driver carries out manual countersteering, Crosswind Assist will automatically reduce its level of intervention accordingly.

The assistance system is tailored to the individual Sprinter model and its surface area. An indicator lamp informs the driver of intervention by the assist function, thereby also keeping him informed about the driving situation.

Collision Prevention Assist: warns the driver of impending collisions

Failure to maintain the necessary distance from other vehicles is one of the most dangerous factors relating to accidents on the road. Analyses carried out by the accident research team at Mercedes-Benz have revealed that a substantial proportion of all rear-end collisions can be avoided or their severity at least reduced substantially with the aid of radar-based assistance systems.

This is where the optionally available Collision Prevention Assist system comes into play – another first in this class. Collision Prevention Assist is designed to help prevent serious rear-end collisions and comprises the proximity warning function and adaptive Brake Assist. It warns the driver when the distance from the vehicle ahead is too small and, at a further escalation level, when there is an acute danger of collision.

The radar-based proximity warning assistant helps the driver to maintain an appropriate safe distance from the vehicle in front. A radar sensor in the front bumper continuously measures the distance from the vehicle ahead in the same lane and the relative speeds of the two vehicles. The proximity warning assistant calculates the necessary safe distance on the basis of this information.

Collision Prevention Assist is operational from a speed of 30 km/h.

Static proximity warning function

A visual warning (warning lamp in the instrument cluster) is triggered as soon as a vehicle ahead is detected and the distance to the vehicle ahead drops below a specific limit, indicating that the distance is not safe.

Dynamic proximity warning function

The dynamic proximity warning function is triggered as soon as the driver's vehicle approaches the detected vehicle ahead with a high difference in speed. In this case, both a visual and an acoustic warning is given. Both warnings give the driver an opportunity to carry out emergency braking or an evasive manoeuvre.

The driver can switch off this assistance function as necessary.

Brake Assist pro: emergency braking precisely as and when required

Similarly to ESP®, this function cannot be switched off by the driver. It is continuously active in the background, monitoring the current operating conditions and the current driving situation. Support from adaptive Brake Assist is triggered after the dynamic proximity warning when the driver's vehicle approaches an identified vehicle ahead at a high relative speed/relative acceleration, the distance from the vehicle ahead drops below a specific limit and the driver brakes in a jumpy manner.

Adaptive Brake Assist is able to support emergency braking according to the relative speed/relative acceleration and the distance from the identified object. When the driver fails to apply sufficient brake power, Adaptive Brake Assist intervenes to generate only the precise amount of additional deceleration that is required to avoid an accident. This also gives the traffic behind the longest possible response time to avoid a rear-end collision. In many cases, this intervention may be sufficient to avoid a rear-end collision.

The driver can override the intervention by adaptive Brake Assist at any time, i.e. if the driver initiates harder braking than the system identifies as necessary, the driver's action will take priority.

Conversely, intervention will be stopped if the driver carries out an evasive manoeuvre, takes his foot off the brake pedal or presses the accelerator pedal.

Blind Spot Assist: safe lane changing

Lane-changing in urban traffic, overtaking outside of built-up areas and on the motorway – all these situations require drivers to make safety-critical decisions in a matter of seconds. The Sprinter possesses large exterior mirrors with a wide field of vision which is further enhanced by wide-angle lenses. The optional new feature Blind Spot Assist – another first for the van segment – additionally helps the driver by warning him of other vehicles in the so-called blind spot during lane changing.

The new Blind Spot Assist function is operational from a speed of approx. 30 km/h. It is based on a total of four close-range radar sensors. These are installed on the right and left behind the side rub strips in the area of the B-pillar and the rear corner pillar and cover the area of the neighbouring lanes. When the sensors identify a car or motorcycle in the blind spot while the vehicle is on the move, a red warning signal appears in the exterior mirror on the side concerned. When the assistance system detects that the driver has activated the indicator and thus intends to change lane despite the warning, he receives an additional warning in the form of an acoustic signal and the red warning symbol begins to flash.
This assistance function can be deactivated by the driver.

Lane Keeping Assist: keeping the vehicle on course

Even more dangerous than careless lane changing is involuntary lane changing – when the driver is distracted or inattentive, for example. The optional Lane Keeping Assist function is now available to provide a timely warning here.

Lane Keeping Assist incorporates sophisticated technology. A camera behind the windscreen films the road ahead. An integrated electronic control unit measures the recorded data continuously, identifying the road surface and markings by reference to differences in contrast. If the van threatens to cross the side marking without the indicator having been activated or without parallel changes to the accelerator or brake pedal position, the control unit will conclude that the vehicle is leaving its lane unintentionally and will warn the driver with an acoustic signal.

Lane Keeping Assist is active from a speed of 60 km/h and responds not only to white lines on the road but also to yellow markings at construction sites. The driver can switch this assist system off as necessary – when driving along narrow and winding country roads, for example. Conversely, Lane Keeping Assist additionally helps the driver to stay on course when there is little room for manoeuvre – at motorway construction sites, for example.

Highbeam Assist: optimum illumination of the road ahead

The best possible visibility is crucial to safe driving. Driving in the dark is particularly demanding in this respect. With this in mind, the Sprinter comes with large and powerful headlamps. All models are optionally available with particularly powerful bi-xenon headlamps.

The new Highbeam Assist feature is a first in the Sprinter's class. It guarantees optimum illumination of the road by switching high beam on or off according to the given situation. The course of the road, pedestrians or dangerous spots are now recognisable even earlier and more reliably. At the same time, Highbeam Assist also reduces the possibility of oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead being dazzled.

The system is based on a camera on the inside of the front windscreen which observes the traffic situation in front of the vehicle. When the camera detects two-track vehicles or motorcycles travelling towards or ahead of the driver's vehicle, high beam is automatically dipped to low beam. Highbeam Assist is able to distinguish between moving and stationary objects. When the road is clear once again, the assistance system switches back to high beam. The camera system also responds to road lighting by deactivating high beam automatically – when passing through built-up areas, for example.

Highbeam Assist operates at vehicle speeds above 35 km/h. It will be available for both halogen and bi-xenon headlamps.

Driver assistance packages makes choosing the required functions easier

The new assistance systems are grouped together in logically compiled driver assistance packages. For closed model variants, i.e. panel van and crewbus, the Driving Assistance package comprises Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Highbeam Assist and Collision Prevention Assist. Alternatively, Mercedes-Benz offers the Lane Tracking package for panel vans and crewbuses. This comprises Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Highbeam Assist.

The Driving Assistance package comprising Lane Keeping Assist, Highbeam Assist and Collision Prevention Assist is available for the open model variants, such as chassis, platform trucks and crewcabs. Highbeam Assist is also available separately.

Assistance systems pay

The comprehensive range of assistance systems on board the new Sprinter prevents accidents and avoids expensive downtimes. These systems also pay in terms of hard cash. The Mercedes-Benz Bank offers lower insurance premiums when driver assistance packages are installed, for example. All-inclusive arrangements – comprising leasing, servicing and insurance, for example – are also available, guaranteeing customers an all-round "no worries" package from a single provider.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: safety on board as standard

Safety is on board every vehicle from Mercedes-Benz as standard. In the case of the Sprinter, for example, this means a safe and predictable chassis, precise steering and highly effective, fade-resistant disc brakes on all wheels. Adaptive brake lights warn the traffic behind in case of emergency braking. A bulb failure indicator warns of any defective lights and a seat belt reminder function prompts the driver to buckle up at the beginning of his trip.

The latest-generation ADAPTIVE ESP® which features as standard currently already pools a diverse array of functions. The vehicle dynamics control system has come to comprise:

- anti-lock brake system (ABS),

- acceleration slip regulation (ASR),

- electronic brake force distribution (EBD),

- hydraulic Brake Assist (BAS),

- Load Adaptive Control (LAC) load-dependent control system,

- Roll Over Mitigation roll-over protection and Roll Movement Intervention (ROM/RMI),

- Enhanced Understeering Control system (EUC),

- automatic brake disc drying system (Brake Disc Wiping) when driving in the rain

- and anticipatory preparation of the brake pads in critical driving situations (ElecTRONIC Brake Prefill).

If the buyer of a Sprinter selects a trailer coupling or the corresponding preinstallation option for this item, the Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) system also comes as standard.

If an accident is unavoidable, despite the Sprinter's high level of active safety, the occupants will benefit from the yielding and energy-absorbing body structure. A height-adjustable three-point seat belt with belt tensioner and belt force limiter, two-way head restraints and also a front airbag are there to keep the driver safe.

Optional extras ensure safety tailored to individual needs

Beyond the extensive scope of standard equipment, additional safety options are available to enable customers to adapt their Sprinters to their individual operational requirements. Bi-xenon headlamps with a static Add-Light System and a cornering light function, fog lights, a headlamp cleaning system and a heated windscreen provide for a further improvement of visibility.

A rearview camera, backup warning system and the PARKTRONIC system facilitate manoeuvring, while the Start-off Assist system (standard in conjunction with automatic transmission) helps when moving off on uphill slopes. The rain sensor with Headlamp Assist relieves the driver of the task of switching the appropriate systems on and off. A front passenger airbag (standard in certain variants and countries), windowbags and thorax bags enhance passive safety, while the optional tyre pressure monitoring system ensures the correct pressure on variants with single tyres.

Mercedes-Benz does not restrict safety aspects to the driver, however: all panel vans come with full-width partition walls which completely separate off the load compartment. Numerous robust lashing eyelets secure the cargo, optionally bolstered by rail systems in the floor, at the level of the belt rail and below the roof frame.

Key focus: driver-fitness safety

Equally as important as the safety equipment on board is driver-fitness safety. A well-rested and relaxed driver is better able to manage or even avoid dangerous situations. The workplace behind the steering wheel is consequently a central focus in the development of a Mercedes-Benz. As a result, every Mercedes-Benz van features a spacious driver's cab and comfortable seats with good lateral support and height adjustment for the driver. The seat position is well chosen in relation to the steering wheel, pedals and the cockpit as a whole.

In every Mercedes-Benz the instruments are clearly arranged and the buttons, switches and control units are always positioned within easy reach. In critical situations, every detail is crucial here: in every car bearing the Mercedes star, for example, the illuminated switch for the hazard warning lights is conspicuously positioned at the top of the centre console.

The exterior mirrors on the left and right have separate fields of vision with wide-angle lenses. The mirror housings are aerodynamically optimised to reduce soiling.

High levels of ride comfort and low background noise combine with effective heating and ventilation to make even the longest trips a pleasure. Numerous well-conceived stowage facilities accommodate everyday items. Precision steering and a comparatively small turning circle round off the range of features for maximum safety and relaxed driving.

Noticeably upgraded interior

Improving on the Sprinter's indisputably high-quality and practical cockpit is no easy matter. The development engineers have nevertheless risen to the challenge. The foam core in the seat is firmer, a wool fleece lining and a new seat cover fabric provide for enhanced breathability. The cover is also even harder-wearing and features a new design.

The new steering wheel with a thick rim offering an excellent grip provides for an improved sense of touch when steering. The optional multifunction steering wheel with trip computer features attractive chrome clasps on the steering wheel spokes and newly designed function keys. The fresh air vents are embellished with chrome applications. The shift lever now sports a chrome ring and a high-gloss badge.

New radio generation, Becker MAP PILOT navigation system

State-of-the-art consumer electronics and navigation equipment are acquiring ever increasing importance in vans, too. A new radio generation is being introduced in the new Sprinter. The Audio 10 is a double DIN radio with features including Bluetooth telephony with telephone keypad and phone book, an SD card slot, a USB 2.0 interface and an AUX input in the cockpit. It plays formats such as WMA, MP3, AAC and WAV.

The Audio 15 unit additionally features a 5.8-inch colour display and enables the use of iPod devices via a USB 2.0 interface. When the optional backup camera is installed, the image from this camera is shown on the display. Guide lines are now provided on the display, to further facilitate manoeuvring. Audio 15 can also be combined with the new optional Becker MAP PILOT navigation unit. This is a fully integrated navigation module with an intuitive user interface. The device includes TMC for dynamic traffic jam avoidance.

The Becker MAP PILOT box is integrated inconspicuously in the new Sprinter's glove compartment. The map data for the customer's region is factory-installed. The box can be removed and incorporates a USB port, enabling the navigation module to be customised and updated online via a computer. A pre-installation kit for the Becker MAP PILOT is also available, e.g. for fleets wishing to make alternate use of vehicles with only one navigation unit.

The new Sprinter 2013: one-stop solution

Versatility is a hallmark of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Two diesel engines with a total of four output levels meeting the Euro 5b+ and Euro VI standards, one petrol engine meeting Euro VI, monovalent and bivalent natural gas drive, manual and automatic transmissions, a host of body, weight and rear axle variants – all this adds up to several thousand variants.

In addition, special bodies and interior equipment from ten selected and certified system partners are available ex-factory as part of the "Mercedes-Benz VanSolution" programme.

An advantage for the customer is that these industry solutions are all available directly from any Mercedes-Benz partner as a one-stop supplier. The purchase of the entire vehicle including financing, completion and delivery takes place directly and swiftly, making fleet administration more straightforward.

This system partnership is able to offer far more than just the appropriate vehicle: apart from high quality and trade-specific product diversity, a comprehensive service offering was a key criterion in selecting the system partners. This includes advisory and service hotlines, the stocking of spare parts and a reliable aftersales service.

The vast scope for customisation of the Sprinter extends right down to the finer points of detail - the list of optional extras comprises several hundred items. Logically compiled equipment packages make it easier to identify the required options.

Excellent support anytime, anywhere

After the actual sale transaction has been completed, a Sprinter's owner and driver are never alone. They have recourse to a highly professional and tight-knit network of around 3000 authorised service centres for commercial vehicles in Europe. More than 300 of these service partners offer extended workshop opening hours up to 10 p.m., with some even remaining open until midnight or round the clock.

Should the worst come to the worst, Service 24h is on hand to provide assistance round the clock, 365 days a year. This service is available in virtually all European countries. Mobilovan is a free additional service offering a mobility guarantee over 30 years – which essentially means throughout the vehicle's service life. Mobilovan includes free breakdown assistance, the mechanic's outward and return journey and free towing, if a fault cannot be rectified on the spot. The sole condition is regular maintenance of the vehicle in accordance with specifications by an authorised Mercedes-Benz service partner.

CharterWay Service offers customers maintenance and repair packages compiled according to their individual needs. The spectrum ranges from warranty extensions to an all-inclusive package which also covers the repair of worn parts.

III. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – production at the Düsseldorf factory: Precision to a fraction of a millimetre - quality workmanship at the main van factory

With a workforce of some 6600 and an annual output of around 150,000 vans, Düsseldorf is Daimler AG's main factory for vans. All the closed variants of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – i.e. panel vans and crewbuses – roll off the production line here. The factory has a shop floor covering almost 700,000 square metres and produces almost 700 vans per working day by way of a three-shift system. Daimler invested almost 36 million euros in the factory in 2012. A new combined heat and power station which cuts primary energy consumption at the factory by around 20 percent accounted for over a third of this investment volume. A particularly notable asset from the employees' point of view is the new factory restaurant which sets a benchmark throughout the group. The Sprinter is also produced in Ludwigsfelde (Germany), Argentina, the USA, China and Russia.

Body-in-white: precision to a thousandth of a millimetre

The body-in-white forms the essential basis of every vehicle. In Düsseldorf the body shop is spread over two levels, on account of the limited scope for expansion of the factory due to its inner-city location. Various welding, soldering and bonding processes are applied to join the delivered sheet metal components and produce a vehicle body. Each Sprinter has 7650 weld spots on average. Work on the body-in-white is shared between a workforce of 1150 and more than 500 robots – around 80 percent of work in the body shop is automated. Production is carried out to an accuracy of one thousandth of a millimetre. Various quality checks take place at the end of each production line.

The Sprinter's body-in-white covers an impressively diverse spectrum: different lengths, heights, door arrangements, weight classes and right and left-hand-drive versions add up to well over 1000 possible basic combinations.

Paintwork: emu feathers and ultra-fine coats of paint

Ten pretreatment stations and an extremely complex painting process provide the body of every van from Düsseldorf with perfect protection against corrosion. The pretreatment process is preceded by a so-called bodywasher: at this station the entire body is cleaned on the outside by rotating spray wheels and on the inside by other spraying equipment.

The actual painting process comprises zinc phosphating, cathodic dip priming, filler coat and top coat. All the coats are ultra-fine, with a total thickness of 80 thousandths of a millimetre. On average, the paintwork on every Sprinter weighs in at 17.4 kg, and the painted surface area totals around 95 square metres.

Prior to top-coating, each body is cleaned with emu feathers on rotating rollers to remove the finest dust. Robots and employees share the task of sealing the body seams averaging a total length of 138 m with PVC. The water-based top coat is applied on four lines. Several hundred different colours are possible. The top coat is applied using electrostatic systems – the fine paint particles are attracted to the body by electrostatic means.

Cavity sealing involves the same high degree of precision as the painting process: a large number of nozzles specified for each individual model automatically spray a precisely defined quantity of the protective coating into every cavity on the body. Together with the galvanised body panels, the sum total of all corrosion prevention measures provides permanent protection in all areas at risk of corrosion – rust has no chance.

Assembly: 197 stations, choice of up to 14,000 parts

Assembly is the most labour-intensive area of the production process. For reasons of space, assembly operations are also spread over three storeys at the Düsseldorf factory. A workforce of 2400 is employed here. They complete the vehicle in a total of 197 steps. There are around 14,000 possible parts for every van. Keeping the required components available and supplying them in accordance with the production sequence is a feat of logistics.

The main focuses of the production process on the first and second floors are the interior and the exterior of the vehicle. One of the most impressive stations is the window fitting centre – the largest of its type in the world. Robots precision-fit all of the vehicle's windows here.

The drive train is pre-assembled at the same time in an adjoining shop. It comprises front and rear axle, engine, propeller shaft and exhaust system. On the ground floor of the assembly shop is the "marriage station", where drive train and body are joined together.

Shortly after the marriage, the engines are started up for the first time as each van undergoes testing according to a specified programme on a roller dynamometer. In the finishing stage which then follows, the vans are fitted with their model plates, and they are cleaned and their doors undergo fine adjustment. The new vans are then scrutinised once more in the light tunnel.

Only then do the vans from the Düsseldorf factory move to their dispatch stations to await collection. Dispatch takes place by truck and rail. Around 310 trucks and eleven rail wagons laden with new vans leave the Düsseldorf factory every day. Some 80 of these trucks head for ports, from where one or two inland vessels set off with vans each week.

Materials and components are contributed by some 600 suppliers. The flow of materials amounts to around 280 trucks carrying 2850 t of material every day. Key assemblies for the Sprinter come from factories within the Daimler group: engines from Berlin, Mannheim, Stuttgart and Kölleda, rear axles from Kassel, transmissions from Gaggenau.

IV. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – the success story: The benchmark – the Sprinter has been the clear leader in its class for almost 20 years now

It has given its name to an entire vehicle segment: ever since the first generation of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was presented in the spring of 1995, it has dominated the van segment with a permissible gross vehicle weight of 3.5 t. The Sprinter sets the standards on all fronts – from economy through safety, environmental compatibility, comfort and ease of operation to power and performance.

The new Sprinter in 1995: modern, powerful and safe

The new Sprinter which appeared in 1995 was the first commercial vehicle from Mercedes-Benz to bear an actual name, rather than a prosaic model designation consisting of numbers or letters. The newcomer followed in the wake of the T1 van, which was known internally as the "Bremer" on account of its initial production location in Bremen.

The T1 was considered the epitome of durability, solidity and reliability. In a production period spanning 18 years, Mercedes-Benz sold almost a million units of this model series featuring a strikingly angular and short bonnet.

The Sprinter got off to a head start straight away when it was launched in 1995. It was immediately apparent that this vehicle was one of a kind: short-nosed, high-traction rear-wheel drive, timelessly modern appearance, spacious cab and a comprehensive range of engines. Alternatively to the standard engine rated at 57 kW (78 hp), a new direct-injection turbo diesel matching power with economy and generating a power output of 90 kW (122 hp) was also available – a sensation at the time. The drive train featured a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic transmission with torque converter was soon additionally introduced as an alternative.

The Sprinter was not only fast – it was safe, too: the chassis featured independent wheel suspension at the front with transverse leaf springs, and the standard scope of equipment included disc brakes on all wheels, the ABS anti-lock brake system and an automatic brake differential. The belt buckle was attached to the seat, and the three-point seat belts were height-adjustable. A further success factor was a wide range of body variants, covering both closed vehicles in self-supporting design and numerous chassis variants.

The Sprinter was full of ideas: its streamlined aerodynamics with flush-fitted windscreen, partially covered windscreen wipers and large corner radii saved fuel and reduced wind noise. The cab was unusually spacious, featuring various clever ideas such as accommodating the warning triangle and first-aid kit in closed stowage compartments at the bottoms of the doors and placing the toolkit under the co-driver's footwell.

Extensive facelift in 2000

Mercedes-Benz marked the launch of the Sprinter's second life cycle at the beginning of 2000 with a facelift covering the vehicle's appearance, equipment and appointments. The Mercedes star protruded into the long downward slope of the bonnet, while new headlamps and a front apron with two steps were defining exterior features. The cab sported a dashboard in a totally new, curved design. The shift lever in the form of a joystick was a particularly conspicuous new feature, along with additional comfort details such as beverage holders and stowage facilities. The joystick protruded out of the centre console, ensuring that it was within easy reach without obstructing through-cab access in any way.

The driver's airbag now featured as standard, and all seats were equipped with three-point seat belts. Headlamps with free-form reflectors lit up the road ahead. The ABS system was more powerful, and the automatic brake differential had made way for a fully fledged acceleration skid control system. The longer front end improved crash safety.

The new CDI diesel engines with four and five cylinders covered an impressive output range from 60 kW (82 hp) to 115 kW (156 hp). Common rail injection and four-valve-per-cylinder design were introduced together with these engines. As an alternative to the manual transmission, Mercedes-Benz offered the Sprintshift automated six-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic transmission with torque converter was soon also added to the range to accommodate customers seeking a particularly high standard of comfort.

Windowbags were introduced as an optional extra in the spring of 2001. The chassis range now extended up to a gross weight of 5.99 t.

Sprinter equipped with ESP® as standard in 2002

Just one year later, the Sprinter was upgraded yet again. Apart from a few subtle touches to freshen up the vehicle's appearance, the main focus was on the inner workings: the brake booster was uprated, and above all the Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) was introduced as a standard feature on all closed variants of the crewbus with a gross vehicle weight up to 3.5 t. ESP® was successively extended to other variants, including the chassis versions in 2004.

The "Safety Showcase" study at the 2004 International Commercial Vehicle Show provided a preview of things to come, with an adaptive ESP® system responding to different vehicle loads, active roll stabilisation counteracting vehicle roll, a lane assistant and adaptive cruise control, a tyre pressure monitoring display and variable-ratio steering, for example.

2006: a completely new Sprinter embarks on its success story

2006 marked the beginning of the future: following a production output of around 1.3 million vehicles over eleven years, a totally new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter took to the road as the European market leader in its class. Its appearance took up the Mercedes-Benz design idiom, combining it with the functional attributes of a van. A defining feature was the consistent design encompassing the entire vehicle, from the front end through the dynamic side line to the tail lights with body-like contours.

Three wheelbases, four lengths, three height variants and numerous gross weights, body, engine and transmission variants resulted in around 1000 basic models. With a gross weight of 3.5 to 5.0 t, the Sprinter covered all the key segments in its class. The product range even included a chassis with low frame and independent wheel suspension on the rear axle. The standard scope of equipment including power windows and central locking with radio remote control set new standards, as did the use of high-quality materials finished to an excellent standard of workmanship, even more room inside, the particularly prominent centre console, the optional multifunction steering wheel and the stowage system.

New features premiered in the Sprinter's class included optional bi-xenon headlamps and the Add-Light system, rain/light sensor and Keyless Entry and Slide, enabling the doors including the electric sliding load compartment door to be opened without a key. Exterior mirrors with additional wide-angle lenses and integrated indicators ensured the necessary vision and visibility.

The CDI turbodiesel direct-injection engine with four cylinders and a displacement of 2.15 l covered an output range between 65 kW (88 hp) and 110 kW (150 hp). Certain engine variants boasted two-stage turbocharging – another first in the vans segment. The new top-of-the-range diesel engine was a 3.0 l V6 engine generating a power output of 135 kW (184 hp) and maximum torque of 400 Nm, as an alternative to the V6 petrol engine with a displacement of 3498 cc and an output of 190 kW (258 hp). The engines complied with the Euro IV or EU 4/III emissions standard. A five-speed automatic transmission with torque converter was available as an alternative to the five-speed manual transmission.

A new transverse leaf spring made of glass-fibre reinforced plastic on the front axle and new parabolic springs on the rear axle provided the basis for handling characteristics ranging from neutral to a slight understeering tendency and high driving comfort. ADAPTIVE ESP®, an electronic stability programme which is able to determine the vehicle's mass and centre of gravity, featured as standard on all models. 16-inch wheels were standard. In addition to the standard-fit driver's airbag, a co-driver airbag, thorax bags and windowbags were also available.

2009: new four-cylinder engines, ECO Gear six-speed transmission

Three years after its relaunch, the Sprinter's performance was upgraded once again with new engines and transmissions. The powerhouse at the core of this enhanced performance comprised a range of totally new four-cylinder engines with the designation OM 651. The displacement of 2.15 l was all that they had in common with their predecessors. The power spectrum ranged from 70 kW (95 hp) to 120 kW (163 hp). Key characteristics were an undersquare configuration, two overhead camshafts driven by gearwheels and a short chain, balancer shafts, common rail injection with a maximum injection pressure of 1800 bar and cooled exhaust gas recirculation. Ancillary units such as oil and coolant pumps and alternator operated in controlled mode. All these attributes together led to high tractive power, low exhaust emissions, low fuel consumption and extremely smooth running. The engines complied with the Euro 5 emissions standard or optionally EEV. The V6 OM 642 with a displacement of 3.0 l now generated an output of 140 kW (190 hp) and maximum torque of 440 Nm, while the 3498 cc V6 petrol engine was rated at 190 kW (258 hp).

The new engines harmonised to perfection with the equally new ECO Gear six-speed manual transmission, which Mercedes-Benz developed specifically for vans. Its defining feature is a particularly broad gear ratio spread, with a short first gear and a long sixth gear designed to keep the engine speed low. Depending on the model concerned, the new drive train lowered NEDC fuel consumption by between 0.5 and 1.5 l/100 km.

Other new developments concerned ESP® trailer stabilisation, an adaptive brake light and an optional heating function for the wide-angle lenses in the exterior mirrors. Improved upholstery enhanced the standard of seating comfort. A universal interface for navigation systems or MP3 players was optionally available.

2012: ADAPTIVE ESP® continually evolving, new automatic transmission

Three more years down the road, the spring of 2012 saw the introduction of further technical enhancements on board the Sprinter. The new generation of ADAPTIVE ESP® incorporated additional functions. Brake Disk Wipe performed cyclic drying of the brake disks to improve braking performance when driving in the rain. Electronic Brake Prefill gently applied the brake pads when the driver took his foot off the accelerator abruptly.

The closed variants of the Sprinter were now available with a seven-speed automatic transmission with torque converter – a world first in the vans segment. This transmission combines a broad spread with close ratios. This means dynamic performance combined with a fuel-saving, low-emissions style of driving involving low engine speeds.

The BlueEFFICIENCY package enabled impressively low fuel consumption. Depending on the model variant and final drive ratio, Sprinters with a permissible gross vehicle weight of 3.5 t and the new longest rear axle ratio run on as little as 7.0 l/100 km in combined mode. The new developments in 2012 represented only an interim facelift for the successful Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, however: a year later, it opened up another chapter with engines complying with the Euro VI emissions standard and new safety systems.

Credits: Daimler AG

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