Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 314CDI Panel Van
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
I have been driving vans since I was a spotty teenager and in those days comfort and luxury amounted to little more than head restraints and a push button radio. The lack of power steering meant a good upper body work out and little sound deadening made for tiring long distance driving.
Vans have come a long way since then and are becoming increasingly car-like to drive as the years go by. It makes sense as many van drivers cover vast mileages every week in the course of their occupation.
Mercedes-Benz is best known for producing an extensive range of well-built, luxury cars. However in commercial vehicle circles, their large range of vans and lorries are equally well regarded and offer a little cachet amongst those in the know.
I knew therefore that my week with a mid size Sprinter van would be a pleasant one and with a return trip to London to accomplish, there would be plenty of time to get to know the vehicle.
The Sprinter had its last makeover back in 2013 and in the looks department it is one of the more striking vans on the road.
The range is comprehensive with four lengths and three heights to choose from. A 2,143cc diesel engine is fitted to most Sprinter vans, though with a choice of three different outputs. A 2,987cc diesel powers the biggest vans.
My test vehicle came in medium length with a high roof. Badged as a 314, the '3' stands for 3.5t gross vehicle weight, whist the '14' indicates the engines power output - namely 140hp. Clear?
The engine boasts plenty of low-down torque (330Nm), essential with a full load and is rated at 31.4 to 36.2mpg. On test I recorded a little over 32mpg, though for most of the period the van was unladen and was cruising on the motorway.
Aiding swift progress is the slick six-speed manual gearbox and light clutch. The lever is mounted high on the dashboard for ease of use. A 7G-Tronic Plus automatic gearbox is available and would have been welcome in the traffic jams in grid-locked London.
A 'Comfort' driver's seat had been added to the Sprinter (+£100) - I've sat in better and am in no hurry to try the standard offering.
Equipment levels are somewhat modest, so expect to pay extra for air conditioning and satellite navigation. Both were fitted to the test vehicle and worked well enough, thought the navigation touch screen looks rather old tech.
DAB radio is not available and the lack of electric mirrors necessitated some rather old school hand out of the window adjustment.
Cruise control is fitted as standard, though the proximity to the indicator stalk was not especially welcome.
Amongst other options of note, the high mounted reversing camera proved a boon when trying to squeeze the van into tight parking spaces.
The Sprinter is immensely manoeuvrable, aided by an excellent turning circle and light controls.
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Other safety highlights include an ESP (electronic stability programme), ASR (acceleration skid control) and BAS (brake assist). Options include Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. Lots of assistance, which hopefully you will never need!
The big Sprinter van rides with a certain Germanic firmness, though I'm sure a reasonable payload would have smoothed things out somewhat.
In medium wheelbase, high-roof form the Sprinter has a load space of 10.5 cubic metres. Load height is 1,940 allowing most adults to be able to stand up straight for easy loading etc.
The test van came fully wood lined and with a selection of optional load securing systems. Also added was a rear door step, an essential I would suggest as it is quite a climb up into the load space.
Sprinter vans are sold from Mercedes-Benz specialist commercial dealers, though with service intervals of two years or 37,500 miles, you shouldn't have to visit them very often.
Should the worse happen, you can rely on MobiloVan, the free roadside assistance package from Mercedes-Benz vans. It lasts for an incredible 30 years too, though terms and conditions do apply.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is not the cheapest large van on the market, but it feels well made and robust and should give sterling service over a long period of time.
I would have expected its premium pricing to afford a more generous level of standard equipment, but most things can be added at a cost.
As far removed as one can imagine from the vans I drove in my youth, I would be happy to undertake the longest of journeys anytime behind the wheel of a Sprinter.
Fast Facts (as tested)
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 314CDI Panel Van Medium
Base Model Price - £30,005 (exc VAT)
Sprinter prices start at £23,315
High Roof (add £1,150)
Pearl silver paint (£645)
2,143cc diesel engine
140PS and 330Nm of torque
Six-speed manual gearbox
Payload volume 1.5 cubic metres
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 314CDI Panel Van, 11th September 2017, 11:45 AM