Mercedes-Benz 4x4 Sprinter

By: David Whyte

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The stylish Mercedes-Benz 4x4 Sprinter truck certainly turns heads, but also has plenty of practical capability

Mercedes-Benz 4x4 Sprinter
Mercedes-Benz 4x4 Sprinter
  • Comfortable cab with plenty of visibility
  • Seats six people
  • 4WD capability
  • Electronic traction system and adaptive ESP combine to optimise traction
  • Plenty of power, easy shift and light steering

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 315CDi 4x4 stands about eight feet tall, and more than twice that in length.

The 4x4 Sprinter offers a 1.5-tonne payload with the factory-fitted tray, has great on-road attributes and six seats, and also has high ground clearance and off-road capabilities. It would be equally at home as a tradesmen’s vehicle or quick response rural fire unit as a regional courier vehicle.

This vehicle was conceived in Germany as a local delivery truck for use in low grip situations, such as snow, icy roads and muddy side roads and was never meant to be a true off-road vehicle, despite its inherent capabilities.

The 315 Cdi is powered by a 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, which puts out 110kW (150hp) at 3800rpm and 330Nm over a very wide band – 1200 and 2400rpm. The power is delivered to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, unless, of course, four-wheel drive is activated.

The Mercedes four-wheel electronic traction system (4ETS) uses the brakes on individual wheels to reduce wheel spin, sensing any difference in speed and correcting it instantaneously. This system also works in conjunction with adaptive ESP, which will either apply the individual brakes as required or reduce the engine torque to keep the vehicle on track.

By using this combination of techniques the system optimises traction, reduces the risk of skidding and has the added benefit of reducing stopping distance.

With low-range selected, the ratio between the engine and the wheels is reduced by 40 percent, allowing for better use of the torque produced at lower speeds.

Despite the height, access to the cab is generally easy, with tall, wide-opening doors and wide steps inside each one. There are no grab handles inside the rear doors though, making it hard for not-so-tall people to get aboard.

The floor inside is almost flat right through from front to back, and the higher clearance gives plenty of headroom to move around inside. Seating for the driver and front passenger offers plenty of adjustment, and armrests. These are very comfortable seats, with very good support and cushioning.

The rear seat has head rests and seatbelts for four people, making this a six-seater. Although for a long trip it might be a bit tight for four large adults to fit across.

The base of the rear seat lifts up to give storage underneath across the width of the cab.

Combined with the seat, the adjustable steering wheel makes finding the right driving position easy, and would accommodate a driver of any size in comfort.

The dash-mounted gearshift is within easy reach, and offers short, direct gear changes. Mounted on the steering column, the cruise-control stalk is simple to use.

Also fitted here is the single stalk that operated the indicators and wipers.

A deep windscreen and short bonnet combine to give great forward visibility, and the electric side mirrors offer a flat main mirror and a small convex on each side.

The interior rear vision mirror is useful, but the grille fitted to protect the rear window means the field of view is reduced.

With plenty of power on tap, and a nice easy shift, the Benz made light work of city traffic. Being so tall, I expected a bit of body roll when cornering, but found it to be minimal.

There is a bit of noise from the front universal joints at around 80kmh, but that is to be expected. With the engine ticking over at about 3200rpm, 100kmh was a comfortable cruise, though maybe a little bit out of the engine’s ideal economy range.

The steering is light at any speed, even while trying to squeeze into a normal car park at the local supermarket. The steering lock is surprisingly good, offering a good turning circle despite the long wheelbase and 4WD.

By engaging the 4WD as soon as we hit the gravel, the benefits of all-wheel drive became obvious — the Sprinter tracks beautifully on the loose surface.

The raised suspension does a great job of ironing out the corrugations, without the floating feeling or thumping noises one might expect. The whole vehicle seems tight and well planted, with no rattles or squeaks inside the cab.

There was very little noise from the factory-fitted alloy tray, which had well designed latches that held the sides tight against each other even over the rough patches.

These factors combined, made the cab a very comfortable place to be while travelling on far from perfect roads. There was no sign of dust entering around the doors, and the large mudflaps did a good job of keeping most of the exterior clean.

To read in-depth truck and work vehicle reviews, see the latest issue of Deals On Wheels magazine, on sale now.

Quick Specifications

Engine 315 CDI 2-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder diesel
Output 110kW (150hp) @ 3800rpm / 330nm @ 1200-2400rpm
Gearbox Six-speed manual, optional five-speed auto
Payload 1500kg



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