Presentation of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter


Appearing in 1995 as the direct successor to the T1 model, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter immediately won not only the “Van of the Year” title, but also the sympathy of customers. Since then, more than half a million of these machines have been made, which is double the output of their predecessor. Last year alone, 113, 300 sprinters were sold, and the company's share of the commercial vehicle market over the past five years has grown from 13 to 19%.

Anatoly FOMIN

We met Sprinter four years ago during an advertising run in Russia. In last year’s test of six vans (ZR, 1999, No. 6), Mercedes-Benz Sprinter took a worthy second place.

In 2000, Daimler-Chrysler introduced customers to an upgraded version of the machine. External differences are not too large: a longer "nose" is striking, a new hood, bumper and headlights. Unlike passenger cars, the appearance of commercial cars is little susceptible to fashion trends. Inside, there’s not much left of the old car. A number of engines have been completely updated, modernized gearboxes with a cable switch drive have made it possible to remove an impressive lever from the floor, which, due to the unusual shape, could well be displayed in the Erotic Museum, a completely new dashboard is now no worse than in passenger cars. Among the original solutions are a six-speed (!) Gearbox with automatic Sprint Shift, an automatic start-stop system that turns off the engine at traffic lights and automatically starts it when you press the clutch pedal. When traveling around the city, it saves up to 8% of fuel. For the first time in a car of this class, side airbags are offered for the head and upper torso.

And this is far from all. In the list of Sprinter models and modifications there are five types of engines, three gearboxes, four main pairs, three options for base and carrying capacity. Two roof heights for the van and the minibus are possible. There is a truck with a regular or double cab, an onboard platform or a tipper body. A total of 140 options! There are also special chassis supplied for retrofitting to other companies. And if we add here 360 ​​positions of additional equipment and all cars created on the basis of Sprinter by other manufacturers, the number of combinations will turn out to be completely astronomical. In addition, in the coming months there will be options for compressed gas, with various types of all-wheel drive transmissions (permanent and disengaged drive, with a reduction gear and without it).

Perhaps in the future, in addition to cars with a gross weight of 2.8, 3.5 and 4.5 tons, the six-ton ​​Sprinter will also see the light, which will replace the larger Vario wagon. It is clear that there is nothing to think in detail about all the modifications. The main thing is to navigate them, which is not difficult. Marking of Mercedes vans is common for the company's trucks: the first figure indicates the approximate gross weight in tons, the last two indicate engine power in tens of horsepower.

Now about the motors. The main one in the new family is the four-cylinder OM 611 DELA turbodiesel with four valves per cylinder and an injection system with a common line (“common rail”). It is presented in three versions, and the working volume of all three is the same - 2.15 liters. Motors differ in power, torque and, of course, boost pressure and turbocharger model. The weakest, with a power of 60 kW / 82 hp - with a traditional turbocompressor, with more powerful ones - 80 and 95 kW (109 and 129 hp) - an adjustable turbine guide device. The most powerful OM 612 DELA diesel engine is similar in design, but has five cylinders, a working volume of 2.7 liters, and a power of 115 kW / 156 hp. Against this background, the M111E gasoline engine with its 105 kW / 143 hp looks modest.

Impressions behind the wheel of the new Sprinter are highly dependent on the engine, wheelbase and … final drive. The organizers chose the route in such a way that long-wheel cars fit almost to the limit in the turns of a narrow mountain serpentine, but, apparently, this was the idea of ​​a test drive: you won’t believe it, but it will creep through! And indeed: it is difficult to imagine that the diameter of the “Sprinter” turning circle with a four-meter base is only 14.3 m. But the dynamic qualities seem to depend much more on the set of gears in the rear axle than on the engine. In any case, the weakest engine in combination with the main pair 4.86 more confidently coped with the mountain road than its counterpart with a capacity of 27 hp bigger, but with a pair of 4.37. Bearing in mind that main transmission options from 3.73 to 4.86 are possible, a competent buyer can always choose a Sprinter based on his needs: either climb mountains with a full load, or make long-distance flights along the plain. And yet: the greater the boost pressure of the engine, the, alas, “its working range is already:

The 82-horsepower engine confidently pulls from idle, and the 129-horsepower “colleague” begins to show temperament only after 1500 rpm. But a five-cylinder diesel engine will not create problems under any circumstances - the power reserve allows you to cope with a two-ton load, and with mountain streamers.

Contrary to expectations and prejudices, the gasoline engine was very good. Thanks to the variable valve timing, he is “very lucky” even in fifth gear. Although, of course, it can’t compete with a diesel engine in terms of fuel consumption.

How did the Sprintshift automatic transmission prove to be? In general, not bad, although switching “with full throttle” turns out to be rude for her, and it’s not difficult for electronics to “brain-brain” them. But if you go to a calm measured ride, the advantage of the "machine" will become obvious. Not every driver will determine exactly which of the six gears is better to go at the moment, if the engine allows you to use at least three. Even a beginner will be able to drive economically with Sprintsshift, and the lack of a clutch pedal removes the remaining problems.

The surcharge for Sprints is only 800 euros, while the hydromechanical “automatic” is three times more expensive and significantly increases fuel consumption. If we talk about saving further, then it is worth mentioning the Esist system, which tracks the service intervals of the machine depending on the intensity of operation. Under favorable conditions, service will be needed only once every 40, 000 km, but not less than once every two years. 3000 km before the expected maintenance, the system itself will remind the driver of this.

Another trump card "Sprinter" - the practicality of solutions, sometimes concerning not the most critical nodes. So, in the front bumper there were special steps to facilitate wiping the windshield, and a short "joystick" of the gear lever allowed to clear the passage between the seats.