- UK pricing for third-generation large van revealed - new model starts at £24k plus VAT, and arrives in dealers June 2018
- Most high-tech, versatile and user-friendly Sprinter yet is packed with innovative features including internet connectivity
- First Sprinter to be offered with front-wheel drive option, which saves weight and boosts mpg to improve efficiency
UPDATE: We have now driven the 2018 Mercedes Sprinter - click here to read our full review
The new 2018 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is on sale now – and should start arriving with customers in June with pricing starting at £24,350 (excluding VAT).
We've updated this story to include full details of UK pricing and standard specification, and you can click here to jump straight to this information if that's what you need to know.
This brand new model is the third generation of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and as you’d expect from the vehicle that’s come to define the entire large van segment, it arrives with plenty of new tricks.
In fact, speaking at the grand unveiling in Duisberg, Germany, Mercedes-Benz Vans boss Volker Mornhinweg described the new Sprinter as being so clever that compared with a regular van it's like a smartphone versus a conventional telephone.
'This is smart hardware,' he said, 'to raise the new Sprinter and the whole segment to the next level.' And as such: 'This is the first van of a new type or species, which improves on the Sprinter's classical strengths and complements them with advances in technology.'
Mercedes-Benz is especially proud of the high level of built-in internet connectivity – intended to make life easier for drivers and fleet managers alike – but in terms of the fundamental usefulness of the new Sprinter, the big news is surely the introduction of front-wheel drive versions for the first time.
However, we've also been really struck by the sheer degree of customisation available from the new Sprinter. There are more than 1,700 basic variants, divided across eight body types, with unique in class features including a V6 diesel engine and a nine-speed automatic gearbox option.
Whatever your priorities, Mercedes-Benz seems determined to be able to build a Sprinter exactly suited to your needs.
Other innovations include an all-new MBUX multimedia infotainment system, 360-degree parking camera technology, the promise of car-like comfort, and an optional nine-speed automatic gearbox for improved performance and fuel economy. An all-electric eSprinter has been confirmed for 2019.
Keep reading for the first official details on the new Mercedes Sprinter on Parkers Vans, direct from the official reveal event in Germany.
There is a LOT of information here, so use the links below to jump straight to the section that most interests you:
- Front-wheel drive details
- Load area dimensions, payload, variants and bodystyles
- Suspension upgrade options
- Load area innovations
- Engine and power output details
- Manual and automatic gearbox details
- Fuel economy and service intervals
- Cab details
- New MBUX infotainment system
- Mercedes Pro Connect
- Other new tech
- Safety equipment
- UK price and standard equipment
- Different uses
Why is front-wheel drive (FWD) such a big deal for the new Sprinter, a van that has traditionally excelled with rear-wheel drive (RWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD)?
Simple: it’s more efficient.
So while you can still get rear- and all-wheel drive versions – which are useful for heavy-duty applications and challenging driving conditions – the new front-wheel drive Sprinter is likely to prove very popular with businesses looking to maximise payload and minimise fuel costs.
Without the need for a massive driveshaft running the length of the vehicle to a large rear axle and differential, FWD Sprinters are lighter than their RWD counterparts – which increases maximum payload by as much as 50kg.
This is particularly important when the highest gross vehicle weight (GVW – the combined weight of the vehicle and everything inside) you can drive on a regular car driving licence is 3.5 tonnes.
This means regular licence holders will be able to drive Sprinters that can now carry more goods. Something that online grocery – or eGrocery – services will be very keen on, as will the so-called CEP (Courier, Express, Parcel) delivery services that make online shopping so speedy.
Reduced vehicle weight also improves fuel economy, meaning better mpg in the real world as well as on paper in the technical specifications. We’re told the entry-level 114hp Sprinter (badged 211 CDI) will be especially impressive in this area, something that can be further enhanced by the optional nine-speed automatic transmission.
Fewer mechanical parts mean they will cost less to buy and run as well.
A further FWD advantage is that it allows the rear load area floor to be lower – by some 80mm in the new Sprinter. This reduces operator fatigue when accessing the back of the vehicle, something that soon adds up when you’re making more than 180 delivery stops a day.
It also increases the load area volume, increasing the internal height and making it more comfortable to work inside as well as more spacious for goods.
Mercedes still hasn't released full technical details just yet, but we have confirmed the following information (concentrating largely on the panel van):
- The new Mercedes Sprinter will be available in three wheelbase lengths, four bodylengths and three body heights
- It will also be offered in five weight classes: 3.0, 3.5, 4.1, 5.0 and 5.5 tonnes
- Maximum wheelbase for FWD versions is 3,924mm
- Maximum wheelbase for RWD versions is 4,325mm
- Maximum load length ranges from 2,732mm to 4,810mm (at floor level)
- Maximum load height ranges from 1,719mm to 2,243mm
- Maximum load width is 1,787mm
- Maximum load area ranges from 3.9 metres square to 7.6 metres square
- Maximum load volume ranges from 7.8 cubic metres to 17.0 cubic metres
- Maximum payload is 3,175kg - but that is for the 5.5-tonne (5.5t) GVW variant
- Mercedes has not released a payload figure for the cricital 3.5-tonne (3.5t) variants, but has stated that minimum unladen weight is 1,990kg - potentially leaving around 1,500kg of payload capacity
- Towing capacity up to 3.5 tonnes
- Body types include: panel van, tourer, pickup, chassis cab, bus and traction (or tractor) head - this last being new for 2018, and made possible by FWD
- In total more than 1,700 variants of the new Sprinter will be available
Unusual variants include a new ‘super single’ 5.0-tonne Sprinter, which combines a high payload capability with single tyres on the back axle.
This is an advantage for tax purposes in some countries, but also maximises load volume, leaving approximately 1.22m between the rear wheel arches for bulky, heavy goods. Pallets can be loaded sideways in this version.
An example of the degree of customisation available, as referred to above, is the option of glass-fibre reinforced plastic suspensions springs. These are not only more durable than conventional steel items, as they cannot rust, they're also 12kg lighter. A weight saving that directly increases payload.
Those more interested in comfort, such as campervan and minibus users, will more be interested to know that the new Sprinter offers a rear air suspension option direct from the factory.
Available on rear- or all-wheel drive Sprinters, this is self-levelling for improved handling and stability, reduces the rocking motion caused when entering and existing the vehicle, and allows the vehicle to be lowered to make loading easier.
In addition to the sheer size of the load area, the new Sprinter has a number of other features available, to suit different trades and uses.
For example, there is a choice of load floors. A metal load floor is standard, but a heavy-duty flooring upgrade is available, especially designed to deal with heavy loads that may only have minimal contact points – via the legs of shelving, for instance.
Alternatively, a new lightweight plastic floor is available. Created for use where loads can be more evenly distributed, the reduced weight of this increases the van’s overall payload compared to the heavy-duty alternative.
The 2018 Sprinter is also available with movable pallet supports in the entry steps of the sliding doors, designed to stabilise Euro pallets or crates when cornering, these further improve the safety in which it can transport heavy, bulky goods.
Every new Sprinter comes with a full-width bulkhead as standard (unless not required), while the usual load lashing rings can be upgrade to rails, which can be fitted in the floor, along the sides and just below the roof frame.
What’s more, the load area wall panelling is said to be robust and washable – making it straightforward to keep the inside of the new Sprinter in tip-top condition. There are numerous internal shelving options, too, while the rear wheel arches are boxed in with wood to make the loadable.
The rear doors have new 'self-arresting' hinges, making them easier and safer to open with one hand.
The new Sprinter will be available with turbodiesel engines ranging in power from 114hp to 190hp in the following configurations.
Mercedes Sprinter front-wheel drive (FWD) engine options:
- 114hp @ 3,800rpm / 300Nm @ 1,400-2,400rpm
- 143hp @ 3,800rpm / 330Nm @1,400-2,400rpm
- 177hp @ 3,800rpm / 400Nm @ 1,800-2,400rpm
All of these power outputs are based on the existing 2.1-litre four-cylinder OM651 diesel engine with single-stage turboocharging, but note the most powerful 177hp version is available for use in campervans only (on which more below).
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter rear-wheel drive (RWD) engine options:
- 114hp @ 3,800rpm / 300Nm @ 1,400-2,400rpm
- 143hp @ 3,800rpm / 330Nm @1,400-2,400rpm
- 163hp @ 3,800rpm / 360Nm @ 1,400-2,400rpm
- 190hp @ 3,800rpm / 440Nm @ 1,600-2,600rpm (V6)
The most powerful 190hp RWD Sprinter uses a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel (OM642); Mercedes is the only manufacturer to still offer a V6 in the large van class, and we have confirmed it will be available to UK buyers.
The others are also 2.1-litre four-cylinder OM651 engines, though in contrast to the FWD models, the RWD versions uses two-stage turbocharging, which should deliver smooth, less laggy response.
Details of all-wheel drive engine (AWD) options are still to come, but we do know power is split 35:65 front:rear.
It goes without saying that all the new Sprinter's engines meet the latest Euro 6 emissions standards.
They do also carry over from the previous Sprinter, but Mercedes is well known for never changing engines at the same time as introducing a new vehicle; using proven technology should help the new Sprinter achieve good reliability right from the start.
All manual-gearbox versions of the Sprinter come with six speeds (with improved shift action and ‘no irritating vibrations’ we’re told).
Automatic transmission options include the familiar 7G-Tronic seven-speed gearbox on rear-wheel drive models or a new nine-speed automatic on front-wheel drive Sprinters. This extra ratios are said to deliver increased performance and better fuel economy.
Sprinter buyers in the USA can also opt for a 211hp petrol engine, complete with standard seven-speed auto – again, this is targeted at the campervan market.
There is no official information on this yet, but we understand fuel consumption will range from around 40.9mpg at best to around 29.1mpg at worst, based on current testing standards.
That equates to CO2 emissions of between 181g/km and 253g/km.
Service intervals are up to 60,000km for RWD Sprinters, equivalent to just over 37,000 miles (though UK spec for this is still to be confirmed).
Service intervals for FWD Sprinters are 40,000km (just under 25,000 miles), presumably due to slight differences in the engines detailed above and increased stress on the steering front axles.
As we discovered at the 2018 Sprinter Inno Campus in December 2017, Mercedes’ new large van will be available with four different interior grades, which come with increasingly premium-feeling materials, smarter storage solutions and more technology as you move up through them.
However, the UK standard specification is higher than most, as detailed in the pricing section below.
The dashboard design is described as being much ‘lighter’ than before, meaning there’s a greater emphasis on horizontal lines and rounded surfaces. Basic versions (above) maximise storage, while above these a there's a new ‘skateboard’ centre console (below) that sits slightly proud of the main surface – a big departure from the bluff affair of the preceding Sprinter.
Tech highlights include keyless go as standard – so the driver never has to take the key out of their pocket – lots of controls on the steering wheel, and an extensive amount of smart device (phones, tablets) integration, ranging from sensibly positioned cradles to apps that will allow you to unlock and (in the future) drive the van without the use of a conventional key at all.
The 2018 Mercedes Sprinter is also the first large van available with an electronic parking brake. Ditching the conventional handbrake (or footbrake, as is Mercedes tradition) frees up space in the cabin and reduces maintenance costs.
Meanwhile, Mercedes is promising the new seats are both more comfortable – thanks to lumber and lower seat cushion length adjustment – and easier to get in and out of. Again this is intended to make life better for drivers who make constant stops.
Clearly visible in the interior pictures of posher new Sprinters is the new MBUX infotainment system. This system is set to be standard equipment on UK models (with the option to delete it to save weight if needs be).
MBUX is short for Mercedes-Benz User Experience, and the Sprinter is only the second Mercedes of any kind to get the system. The first was the 2018 Mercedes A-Class, which only beat it to the punch by four days.
This multimedia package comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen as standard; a larger 10.25-inch unit is optional, as are sat-nav and real-time traffic monitoring that can offer dynamic routing that’s said to save costs and time.
More futuristically, it's a self-learning system, so picks up your habits and presents your most commonly used features automatically – including knowing when you're likely to be travelling to work. You can pair two phones via Bluetooth at once as well, to easily switch between work and private calls.
It can store multiple user profiles, so can be customised for several different drivers, and has a voice recognition system that works in a similar manner to smart home devices and Apple's Siri. Simply say 'Hey Mercedes' and talk to it.
It seems to work almost terrifyingly well, as long as the vehicle has an internet signal. The overal look and feel of the new system is very slick indeed, seeming modern, premium and user friendly.
Going beyond immediate convenience inside the vehicle, Mercedes reckons the new Sprinter is the most connected van ever – thanks the option of a permantent internet connection and a series of networked services collected under the general term Mercedes Pro Connect.
Eight packages were announced initially, though Mercedes is now saying 18 services will be available to UK buyers at launch. You can add them to even the most basic version as a Communication Module including a 4G sim card is fitted as standard.
So you don’t need an MBUX system as well (though this is also standard in the UK anyway).
Functions include Vehicle Supervision, Vehicle Operations, Fleet Communications, Maintenance Management, a digital Driver’s Logbook, Eco Monitoring and Theft Management.
In its broadest sense, Mercedes Pro Connect means fleet managers can be connected to the van all of the time, in almost real time. This includes access to vehicle location, fuel level and how imminent the next round of maintenance is – although for anyone concerned about privacy, the systems can be switched off as required.
The level of detail available is crazy. You can check and/or get automatic alerts about not just fuel but also washer fluid, brake fluid and other user service items. The info is available in the overarching Fleet Manager software but also on an app for drivers.
The new Sprinter will also predict when it needs maintenance, flagging this on the same systems and giving you plenty of time to arrange a service at a time least inconvenient to you. The service arrangements can also be made via the software programs.
The idea is to make running a fleet of new Sprinters as smooth as possible – whether you’re dealing with several hundred of them or just a few, Mercedes hopes advances like this will make life easier for you.
Properly deployed, Mercedes Pro Connect should minimise unscheduled vehicle downtime, keeping your business moving efficiently and cost-effectively.
However, it also enables other cool tricks, such as the ability to unlock the van using your phone. Seems like a gimmick, but when you're on the other side of the site and someone urgently needs a tool or part that's locked inside, you'll no longer have to run back to let them in.
In the future totally keyless vehicle deployment should be possible; imagine running a fleet where the drivers never have to collect a physical key, instead being simply assigned a van via a smartphone app, which then also allows them to open it and drive it.
This same technology will enable in-vehicle delivery and collection as well – meaning an app could give a specialist courier limited-time access to the van to move parts and/or tools in and out as required – saving the driver a trip to depot or supplier, further streamlining job and site logistics.
Loads. Handling a big van can be tricky at times, so Mercedes not only offers a self-cleaning reversing camera, but an all-round sensor package to detect hard-to-see objects (the latest VW Crafter has something similar) and even a 360-degree camera system.
Using cameras positioned on the sides as well as the front and the rear of the vehicle, this last can cleverly create a bird’s-eye view of the van and its immediate surroundings. You’ll never park in a space wonky again.
Another thing that’s new for the 2018 Sprinter is the Wet Wiper system, which combines a rain sensor for automatic operation with windscreen wipers with integrated washer jets, improving visibility when cleaning the screen as the water is wiped away immediately.
Direct technology transfer from the car world.
Safety is also an increasingly important consideration for van drivers and fleet operators.
As before, the Sprinter comes with Crosswind Assist as standard, helping to keep you stable when driving in high winds, as well as the expected electronic stability control (ESC – or ESP in Mercedes-speak).
However, it's also the first van to get autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection. An upgrade over the more basic AEB systems fitted to some other vans, as the name suggests, this can spot and slow down for people as well as more solid objects such as other vehicles.
UK Sprinters also get Attention Assist as standard, to detect and warn drivers if they're starting to act tired and should take a break.
Optional safety equipment includes:
- Distronic radar-based active cruise control
- Active Lane Keeping Assist
- Traffic Sign Recognition
- Blindspot monitors
- Rear Cross Traffic with Exit Alert
- Drive Away Alert – which restricts the van to 3km/h if it thinks you're about to hit something when pulling away from a standstill
Mercedes announced UK pricing details for the new Sprinter on 1 March 2018, and the entry-level 211 CDI FWD model with short body and standard roof starts an entirely reasonable-looking £24,350.
We say reasonable because you get a whole lot more standard equipment than you did on the outgoing model. This includes the safety items detailed in the section above, as well as all the following:
- Keyless entry and start
- 7.0-inch MBUX infotainment system with Bluetooth and DAB radio (at last)
- Automatic headlights
- Steering wheel with multifunction controls
- Communications Module with 4G sim card
- Electric power steering
You'll still need to add creature comforts such as air-conditioning if you want them, and the full options list is absolutely vast. But as this suggests, UK examples of the Sprinter will be very comprehensively equipped compared to the more basic versions sold elsewhere.
That said, Mercedes will also allow you to delete unwanted items, should you be looking to maximise payload or prefer to avoid the added complexity.
The cost difference between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive models is around £1,230 (ex. VAT), though because not all FWD Sprinter variants are available with RWD, the latter's pricing starts at £31,230 at present.
Obviously, the larger the van, the more it costs, too. The most expensive 3.5t variant at launch is the 319 CDI with extra-long body and high roof, which costs £37,895. The most expensive of all is the 5.5t 519 CDI version of the same at £44,275.
In another change, it's worth noting that Mercedes has revised its naming conventions for the new Sprinter as well. Instead of referring to short, medium, long and extra-long models, and standard, high and super-high roof variants, it's switched to the industry standard of L1, L2, L3 and L4 for length, H1, H2 and H3 for height.
Whether that makes things more or less confusing is open to debate.
Mercedes has clearly spent a great deal of time and effort attempting to understand the different ways in which the new Sprinter may be used, and building the necessary versatility into the van from the start.
Here are some of the usage examples given alongside details about how the Sprinter is designed to meet them.
Mercedes Sprinter for the CEP sector:
- CEP = Courier, Express, Parcel – so delivery services, particular with reference to online shopping
- New front-wheel drive Sprinter’s 80mm lower load area floor makes it easier to access and creates greater load volume
- Front-wheel drive is also up to 50kg lighter, benefiting payload in the 3.5-tonne van sector
- New ‘driver’s seat Plus’ has a flattened cushion to make frequent entry and exit easier
- Entry-level 114hp engine said to be ‘particularly economical’
- Optional LED load area illumination
- Loadable wheelarches
- Mercedes Pro Connect should improve efficiency, and make fleet management more straightforward
Mercedes Sprinter for the eGrocery sector:
- eGrocery = fresh food delivery, usually ordered online
- Mercedes Pro Connect designed to ease time and cost pressures, which are critical in this sector
- Front-wheel drive delivers equally critical maximised payload
- Promise of ‘absolute reliability’ to minimise downtime and avoid additional costs caused by spoiled food
- Easy loading and unloading – thanks to low sill heights and standard-fit keyless go
- Parking tech including cameras and all-around sensors can minimise vehicle damage in tight urban driving situations
- Low CO2 emissions – or indeed zero emissions from forthcoming eSprinter electric version
Mercedes Sprinter for the service sector:
- Transport for service technicians, including use as a mobile warehouse and/or workshop
- Lots of storage options – in the load area and in the cab
- Ability to use the cab as a workspace
- Competitive purchase and operating costs
- Innovative connectivity to improve efficiency – including in-van deliver and collection capability using ‘smart-return boxes’ and app-controlled secure vehicle access
- 80mm lower floor of FWD Sprinter gives greater headroom when load area is used as mobile workshop
Mercedes Sprinter for passenger transport:
- Optimised ergonomics mean people inside will be more comfortable and therefore able to make better use of their travelling time (and in turn more likely to return to your business)
- Option for USB charging and Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity
- Car-level material quality in the cab
- Car-level ride comfort via optional air suspension
- Roof-mounted air-conditioning for individual passenger climate control
- Lots of safety tech
- Seat sensors to enable automatic optimisation of ride-sharing services (in the future)
Mercedes Sprinter for the construction sector:
- Tough build quality to cope with demanding use and conditions
- Easy to clean interior
- Versatile suspension that’s comfortable over long-distance but also capable of tackling rough terrain on site
- On-demand all-wheel drive option for low-traction surfaces
- Up to 5.0-tonne GVW in combination with AWD
- Up to 3.5-tonne towing capacity
- Wide array of body variants to suit all types of camper conversion – the new Traction Head version (which basically stops aft of the b-pillar...) made possible by front-wheel drive should be particularly interesting to converters
- Car-level luxury from available equipment and trim finishing – including power pivoting seats and the latest safety and assistance systems
- Optional electronic parking brake – frees up space in the cab and makes moving from the front to the rear compartment more straightforward
- New digital control possibilities turn the Sprinter into a ‘smart home’ – with remote app access to vehicle status, and more to come in the future
- Latest mapping and traffic tech means you’ll not only avoid congestion but also low bridges, narrow roads and weight restrictions (apparently)
- Lots of safety tech – including the standard-fit Crosswind Assist
- New all-season tyres developed for especially long ‘idle’ times – meaning they can sit between trips without perishing
- Air suspension for improved comfort, all-wheel drive for added traction
- Pre-installation for windscreen heaters, reinforced seat bases, active cruise control and blindspot monitors for fully-integrated campervans
- ‘Hibernation mode’ to save energy and make re-starting after lengthy idle periods straightforward