After a major upgrade for the 2014 model year, Mercedes-Benz has made further investments for MY2015. Some of the major changes seen in 2014 were updated styling and an expanded engine lineup to include both a V6 and an I4 diesel. (Read more at http://articles.sae.org/12180/). While available in Europe, there are no gasoline variants offered in the U.S. Fuel efficiency was improved 18% over the MY2013 in the V6 diesel on the FTP75 test cycle. Sprinter comes in two basic models, the 2500 and 3500, along with a factory built mini-bus. Sprinter van variants include cargo, passenger, cab chassis, crew, and mini-bus.
In a market dominated by Ford and Chevrolet in the U.S., the differentiator for the Sprinter is quality.
“We need to be the best,” said Bernhard Glaser, Vice President & Managing Director, Commercial Vans, Mercedes-Benz USA. One approach to achieving that goal is improved safety. This includes its load-adaptive Electronic Stability Program (ESP), which the company claims is exclusive to the segment. This version of ESP determines the gross vehicle weight and uses that data to better support functions such as oversteer and understeer corrections, rollover mitigation, and brake assist, among others.
For upfitters, an optional Parametric Special Module (PSM) control unit provides extra control for special purpose vehicles. For example, ambulance lights can be controlled, or wheel chair lifts can be programmed to activate an interlock for safe driving and operation. The company notes that about 75% of all Sprinters are sold with some type of upfitter modification.
New for MY2015 in the U.S. is a 4X4 option.
“This is not for off-road,” said Antje Williams, Brand Manager for Commercial Vehicles. “It is intended for more difficult driving conditions, such as gravel or muddy roads or wet surfaces.”
This option is mated only to the 3.0-L V6 diesel engine. The all-wheel-drive system is user activated with a button. Torque is distributed 35:65 between the front and rear axle. The body was lifted 4.3 in (109 mm) in front and 3.1 in (79 mm) in rear. Mercedes-Benz offers an optional low-range gear for the 4x4. The company also outfitted anti-roll bars as well.
Previous versions of the Sprinter 4x4 have been sold in markets such as Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Austria, and France, according to the company. It will be available in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2015.
Also new for MY2015, Mercedes-Benz will equip the 2500 models with “cross wind assist,” an adaptive ESP yaw sensor that detects lateral wind force. The ESP then countersteers through selective braking, kicking in when the vehicle is traveling faster than 50 mph (80 km/h).
“Our customers requested this,” explained Williams in an interview with SAE Magazines. “It is a technology we are working on in general in our company.”
In a vehicle as large as the Sprinter, wind forces are even more pronounced and, according to Williams, was a natural improvement to the existing ESP system. The company’s engineers used existing sensors to determine the braking intervention.