Last week I visited Stuttgart in Germany – the home of Mercedes-Benz, to see what their third generation Sprinter Innovation Campus vehicle will offer.
There was good and bad news. The bad news is that the Sprinter will only find its way to our shores in 2019.
The good news is that when it gets here, it will be fully equipped with features found across the Mercedes-Benz passenger car’s range.
The Sprinter has been around since 1995 and about three million have been sold, which tells you why Mercedes-Benz regard this as its flagship commercial model.
The new Sprinter will be the first Mercedes model series to use the adVANce philosophy which seeks to change the transport system and how we look at MercedesBenz vans.
When it arrives in SA, it will allow drivers and fleet managers to communicate effectively through the Mercedes PRO connect services. The van will be available in different body variants, wheelbases, load height, stowage concepts, interior versatility and infotainment systems.
Mercedes-Benz plans to electrify its whole model portfolio by 2019, which means there will be an eSprinter for South Africa.
“We have expanded the already Sprinter portfolio and added a multitude of new product features. “One of the outstanding features of the new Sprinter is its digital networking ability, which offers a host of new opportunities to improve efficiency and optimize processes throughout the customer process chain. “The Sprinter slots seamlessly into the digital world”, says Dr Ulf Zillig, overall project manager for the Sprinter at Mercedes-Benz Vans.
The Sprinter for South Africa will only be offered in a frontwheel-drive variant.
It now sits 80 mm lower than the current model. You also get a low load compartment sill, an electric parking brake and the safety systems found across the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range.
Addressing cabin space, with the gear lever now residing on the steering wheel controls, while the traditional handbrake has been replaced by an electric switch.
I did not get the chance to see what the next Sprinter will look like but I did glimpse the interior.
You get USB charging facilities to ensure an adequate power supply and a WiFi hotspot that passengers can connect to while on the move.
Mercedes-Benz say it has reinvented its seats as they will feature adjustable back rests – something the outgoing model lacks.
The front seats can be adjusted electronically.
Buyers can choose between open, close or lockable compartments depending on what you wish to use the van for. In terms of engine choices, that remains unknown for now but expect changes across the range.
The third generation Sprinter will be presented in February 2018 and will be in SA in 2019.