Sprinter on Tour
Sprinter on Tour. Click image to enlarge

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Mercedes-Benz Canada

By Paul Williams

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Sprinter on Tour

Ottawa, Ontario – Since its Canadian introduction in 2003 under the Dodge brand, and subsequently in 2010 as a Mercedes-Benz model, the Sprinter van continues to be unique in the commercial/recreational van segment.

Built in Dusseldorf, Germany, the Sprinter has a number of venerable competitors, including the Ford E-Series and Chevrolet Express vans, and the recently introduced Nissan NV series of commercial vans. None of these vehicles, however, offers a diesel engine like the Sprinter.

The Sprinter’s V6 diesel engine generates 188 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque, and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Sprinters can tow up to 7,500 pounds, and can carry a payload of 2,630 to 6,269 pounds (1,193-2,844 kilograms) depending on configuration. Two main versions are offered — the 2500 and 3500 — easily distinguished by the 3500’s dual rear wheels. Other variations include two wheelbases, three body lengths and three body heights (standard, high roof and super high roof).

Sprinter on Tour
Sprinter on Tour
Sprinter on Tour. Click image to enlarge

The “Sprinter on Tour” event – which is visiting 10 Canadian cities over a seven-week period — highlights several of the Sprinter’s attributes, including handling, fuel-efficiency, cargo capacity and safety.

It also features the only Sprinter in the world fitted with outriggers, and modified by the factory to permit the driver (in this case, Danny Koch of the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy) to fully disable the vehicle’s Adaptive Electronic Stability Control for demonstration purposes.

The Ottawa Sprinter on Tour event was representative of the program, enabling drivers first to run Sprinters through a closed course to familiarize themselves with the vehicle’s driving dynamics, then to take the vehicles on the road for an urban and highway driving experience.

In comparison with competitive vehicles, the Sprinter was notably more responsive to the throttle, steering and brakes. The Sprinter’s short turning radius and electric power steering made it easier to manoeuvre between obstacles, presumably enabling it to better negotiate the challenging confinements of some delivery routes, for example.

This is all the more relevant because the Sprinter is a larger vehicle than conventional commercial vans, which means that while it’s negotiating tight spots, the Sprinter is also able to carry more cargo, obviating the need for frequent returns to base to reload on delivery routes. Additionally, it can carry larger items than its competition, due to wider door openings at the rear and side of the vehicle.

As you may know, commercial vehicles are not tested as part of Canada’s Energuide program because there are so many variations of each model. However, on our runs with the Sprinter, the driving style suggested by Mr. Koch and his team reduced my fuel consumption in the Sprinter by 15 per cent (see the Autos.ca special series on fuel-efficient driving for tips on using less fuel).

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