A quick used Mercedes Sprinter Review. I had this van as a rental for 2 days, it had almost 200,000km, it was a 2016 model with the 313CDI engine. These are my thoughts and how I think it compares to the Ford Transit and Peugeot Boxer.
Mercedes Sprinter Review – Short Version
My favourite van in this class for many reasons not least of which is the great fuel economy and engine power.
Mercedes Sprinter Review
I’ll go through each part of the van and give my thoughts on it taking into consideration the age and mileage of the van as well as it’s competitors specifically the Ford Transit and Peugeot Boxer.
Basic interior, minimal gadgets. Good speed and a niceish interior.
Looks to be hard wearing but it had plenty of rattles on cobblestone roads. Generally a good layout of controls, ample cup holders. Seat had recline adjustment and pitch adjustment which was enough to get comfortable. Even though the van was getting on to 200,000 km the seats showed minimal wear and nothing seemed to be falling off or falling apart.
Stereo was an Alpine unit which I presume was aftermarket. Sound was good and clear, not unpleasant at all but don’t expect bass.
Longest schlep in the Sprinter was 90 minutes and zero aches or pains. I could drive it all day I think no problem. Nothing weird with the pedal position, steering wheel position was spot on, basic but comfortable.
This example was showing no signs of rust that I could see, even though it was fairly banged up externally. All the handles worked and everything closed properly. If there was on gripe it was the cable that went into the side door for the electrics. A couple of times it got stuck in the door sliding mechanism. I’m not sure if it was like this from the factory or not.
Headlights were good & it had running lights down the side which I thought was a nice touch.
Generally no complaints about the exterior.
Huge steering wheel compared to a Boxer and especially compared to the Ford Transit. Nevertheless, it felt completely natural. With regards to feel, I had no issues, no feel like any van but not disconcerting to punt down a country road.
As good as the Boxer and the Transit
Mercedes Sprinter Review – Engine
The engine felt sweet (2.2 litre, inline 4). Good power. The Ford Transit I had on hire was supposed to have the same power as this Sprinter but I would say the Sprinter was comfortably faster. Over taking on country roads was absolutely no problem in the Sprinter. It pulled well in fourth and fifth gear. I’d say the overtaking experience in the Sprinter was much much better than the Transit and the Boxer. If you drive on country roads a lot the Sprinter is a good tool.
The engine was a nice unit to use, doesn’t feel harsh although on the example I had, sustained speeds of 130km/h did bring a check engine light saying that the oil temps were high. Taking it back to 120km/h put out the light. This could have been down to the age of the oil in this van, I don’t know.
Here was a real boon. I said in the previous review I was not impressed with the fuel economy of the Transit. The Sprinter on the other hand was impressive. The engine pulled well from around 1800rpm but it would be telling me to shift up at 2000rpm. As a result most of the time I drive with the RPM below 2000 which is probably why the fuel economy was better than the transit. We did around 400km with 70 Euro of diesel, with diesel costing 1.80 euro a litre (29MPG, 9.7litres/100km). The Transit needed 210 Euro for 975km at 1.7 Euro a litre (23.6MPG, 12litres/KM).
Generally the fuel economy exceeded my expectations by a big margin.
Ride Quality & Handling
A bit bouncy but for a van it was normal. I’d say less bouncy than a Boxer but more bouncy than a Ford Transit. Generally I’d say the driving dynamics of the Ford were better.
At speed I would say that perhaps the Boxer was more stable and perhaps also the Transit but the Sprinter wasn’t lairy and it wouldn’t put me off the Sprinter versus these other vans. It was acceptable.
Load Area and Access
Something that I see in most, if not all panel vans is a lack of lashing points. They have plenty in the floor but none on the wall and the Sprinter was no different. The difference with the Sprinter was that it was harder/impossible to improvise lashing points because you couldn’t feed string/rope through the internal ribs of the van. Having said that, if you own the van this is something that you can fix.
Lighting in the back was non existent and I don’t know how good it is new. But having said that the power cable running to the back was exposed so I imagine it wouldn’t be too hard to tap into that to put your own LED lights in the back. Generally I find the stock lighting in the back of vans to be woeful so I can’t mark the Sprinter down in this area.
Load Area Access – Rear Step
Even though the van was rear drive and the bed of the load area is high, Mercedes may a really good effort with the step. Its wide and deep and low. It really eats into the height of the van making as easy to load like a FWD drive van like a Renault Master.
The step on this one had seen better days but it still did the job.
The Ford Transit is also rear wheel drive and Ford also put a step but Mercedes did a much better job. The step on the Ford Transit is quite close to the height of the load bed so while it helps it could have been much better. Mercedes dropped the rear step a lot vs the bed and this makes a world of difference.
The rear doors. A problem that I think all vans have is that you have to open the rear doors too far before the lock. The doors seems to be a little bit outside of the van before the lock. I’m not happy with this. When I am on a tight street I don’t want the doors to be sticking out, even by a few cms. Again, Mercedes is not the only van like this so I can’t mark them down for it.
Another thing that annoys me about the rear doors on vans is that they obscure the rear lights when they are open. This seems like a glaring problem to me especially if you are on a busy narrow street, at night. But again, not an issue confined to the Mercedes Sprinter.
Not grabby like the Transits. The brakes just performed as I expected them to. I didn’t need to make adjustments to my driving which is always nice.
Mercedes Sprinter Review – Dashboard & Instruments
Again, nothing fancy here. Just very clear and easy to read fuel gauge, rev counter and speedometer. Definitely a long way behind the Transit but that could be down to the spec of this van from the factory.
Felt exactly the same as all the Sprinters I have driven from the MK1 until this. I think they probably have the exact same gearbox. It felt hard wearing, gear change wasn’t great but I never missed a shift. A bit noisy like all of them.
The ratios seems to be excellent. Sure first is very short but the rest are perfectly spaced, especially 6th. At 120km/h the revs I think were around 2500 which is much better than the Boxer and I think even the Transit. I was worried about the short first and if that would mean 6th would also be short but no. A short first, a long 6th and no gear change dropped me out of the power band. I could not be happier with the ratios.
Good. The front of the van sticks out a bit and you can’t see the front end from the drivers seat so you have to make a big guess in tight spot. In driving though (as opposed to maneuvering) visibility is excellent. Mirrors are good with the main mirror above the blind spot/parking mirror. I’m not sure why but I would say the Sprinter mirrors are better than the Transit and the Boxer mirrors. I think it maybe because the lower mirror on the Sprinter points down more so it’s easier to see the kerb when you are reversing. And perhaps the main mirror also looked up more, which was handy as the van I had was a high top and I had to reverse under some overhanging buildings.
Would I buy one? – Mercedes Sprinter Review
There were two obvious issues with this van.
The first was the oil temperature light and the second was the air conditioning which didn’t want to be on for more than an hour.
I expect these issues were down to the age and condition of the van but I think it’s something to be aware of when you are looking at buying a used Mercedes Sprinter. The thing with the AC was it worked perfectly, right up to the point where it stopped blowing cold air so I’m not sure how you could diagnose it on a short test drive.
I don’t believe these two issues would be major though and the rest of the experience was good. Again, nowhere near as luxurious as the Ford Transit but on the upside the fuel economy was better and the van felt much faster. I would much prefer speed and economy to luxury. I’m not saying the Sprinter was a bad place to sit, far from it, it was good, just don’t expect the toys of a Transit.
I think the engine on the Sprinter was better, I feel like it would do more miles and the gearbox also felt strong, agricultural but strong.
On the whole, of the vans I have driven of this size and age, and if I was spending my own money, I think I’d go for the Sprinter over the Ford Transit and Peugeot Boxer. I’m happy to give up some the more car like comfort of the other two for the speed and the more rugged feeling of the Sprinter.