It is the bestselling van in its class in Europe, and has lent its name to an entire vehicle category. It has repeatedly set standards in technology, safety, economy, environmental protection and performance.
Now the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is consolidating its leading position even further, pulling away from its competitors with a new generation of diesel engines, new manual transmissions and numerous other features. It is cleaner, more economical and more powerful than ever, with engines of exemplary efficiency.
Accordingly the Sprinter is set to continue its success story: since spring 2006, well over 400,000 units of the current second generation have been produced, with a total of over 1.7 million units if the preceding model is included. This means that the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter dominates the van class around the
3.5-tonne gross vehicle weight level.
New engines meet Euro 5 as standard, EEV optional
This comprehensive further improvement of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter centres on the newly developed drive train, with completely new four-cylinder diesel engines having the in-house designation OM 651 and the comprehensively re-engineered OM 642 V6 engine. The development focus was on maximum environmental protection by virtue of compliance with the Euro 5 emission standard, and optionally even EEV, further improved economy with a lower fuel consumption, impressive performance with high output and torque, great responsiveness and even more operating refinement.
Naturally these engines also meet the expectations that are taken for granted in a power unit bearing the Mercedes star: outstanding reliability and a long operating life to cope with the high demands of day-to-day commercial vehicle operation, as well as long service intervals. All the variants of the new engine already comply with the Euro 5 emission standard. This becomes mandatory for commercial vehicles above 3.5 t gross vehicle weight from the autumn, and will apply to commercial vehicles below this threshold in 2011.
Four-cylinder CDI: wide output range, three output classes
Three output variants of the new OM 651 four-cylinder engine are available for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter:
– 210 CDI/310 CDI/510 CDI: output 70 kW (95 hp) at 3800 rpm, max. torque 250 Nm at 1400-2500 rpm
– 213 CDI/313 CDI/413 CDI/513 CDI: output 95 kW (129 hp) at 3800 rpm, max. torque 305 Nm at 1200-2400 rpm
– 216 CDI/316 CDI/416 CDI/516 CDI: output 120 kW (163 hp) at 3800 rpm, max. torque 360 Nm at 1400-2400 rpm
Compared to its predecessor, the top engine variant now benefits from an eight percent increase in output and an increase of no less than ten percent in maximum torque.
V6 CDI: top model now even more powerful
The V6 OM 642 engine has been comprehensively developed further, with an unchanged displacement of 2987 cc. As the only six-cylinder unit installed in a van, it likewise now meets the Euro 5 emission standard. In addition to slight increase in output, it impresses with its ten percent increase in maximum torque. As the top-of-the-line engine for the Sprinter, the six-cylinder unit is available in one output class:
– 219 CDI/319 CDI/419 CDI/519 CDI: output 140 kW (190 hp) at 3800 rpm max. torque 440 Nm at 1400-2400 rpm
OM 651: completely new design
The four-cylinder OM 651 diesel engine is a completely new design. It only shares its overall displacement of 2.15 litres with its predecessor (to be precise: 2143 cc, predecessor 2149 cc). It has a completely different geometry, however. While the bore and stroke were previously roughly square, the new engine is a long-stroke unit with a bore of 83 mm and a stroke of 99 mm. This allows a high ignition pressure of 200 bar, leading to increased torque, pulling power and overall performance. The compression ratio has been reduced from 17.5:1 to 16.2:1. The advantages include smooth idling even when cold, despite the undersquare configuration.
The engine has a high-strength block of grey cast-iron, with deep-seated cylinder head bolts. This reduces friction and allows more perfectly cylindrical walls, which are finely honed for even lower friction.
The pistons are of aluminium. Owing to the long-stroke geometry, an omega shape was chosen for the piston crown. This wide, flat crown harmonises with the long injection spray lengths of an undersquare engine. An optimised combustion process significantly reduces the untreated emissions.
Owing to the long stroke, the forged, weight-optimised connecting rods are short, which is an advantage in terms of strength. The forged crankshaft with eight counterweights rotates in five bearings. It is very low in vibrations, thereby contributing to the smoothness of the engine.
Camshafts driven by gear-wheels and chain
The two overhead camshafts operate a total of 16 intake and exhaust valves via roller-type tappets with hydraulic valve adjustment. The camshafts are driven by a combination of gears and a short duplex chain. Great attention to detail has reduced the louder noise normally associated with gear-driven camshafts.
Fuel injection at a maximum of 1800 bar
As before, a common-rail system is used to inject the fuel. This design ensures highly precise and therefore economical fuel metering for each cylinder, as well as smooth running. The maximum injection pressure has been increased to a remarkable 1800 bar in the new engine generation.
Improved, fourth-generation solenoid injectors with improved control and a seven-hole injection nozzle allow up to five injections per combustion cycle: a maximum of two pre-injections is followed by the main injection and, if required, a post-injection phase. The benefits include a gentle increase in pressure, and therefore quiet, smooth running.
The new injectors are free of leaks, therefore no additional line is necessary to return fuel. This improves thermal management of the injection system and makes it unnecessary to cool the fuel. A compact dual-plunger injection pump generates the necessary pressure in the rail, while a throttle valve regulates the charge level. The required pump output has been considerably reduced as one of several measures designed to lower fuel consumption.
Turbocharger: high efficiency and rapid response
The developers devoted great attention to the turbocharging. This is not only of decisive importance for the rated output and torque, but also for power delivery and therefore responsiveness. In the basic 70 kW (95 hp) version, the engine is aspirated by a single-stage turbocharger with variable turbine geometry. This ensures a high level of efficiency and rapid response.
In the other output versions of the four-cylinder engine, a further development of the two-stage turbocharging installed in a van for the first time in the preceding model is used. In this case a small high-pressure turbocharger works together with a large low-pressure turbocharger. The two turbines are connected in series. At low engine speeds only the compact high-pressure unit is active, which means that a high charge pressure can already be built up at very low engine speeds. A wastegate valve prevents overloading. From medium engine speeds, the charge pressure control flap of the large low-pressure turbocharger opens, bringing its turbine into action. This too has a wastegate valve.
Top performance across the entire engine speed range
Thanks to specific improvements to all these units, this combination achieves both very good responsiveness from low engine speeds and excellent operating characteristics at high engine speeds, as well as top performance across the whole engine speed range. Maximum torque is already available at very low engine speeds, and is maintained over a wide rpm range. The driver does not notice the switchover from one to two-stage operation and vice versa, and the engine characteristics correspond to those of a large-displacement diesel engine.
Larger intercooler, highest specific output
The larger intercooler delivers a 20-percent higher cooling performance compared to the preceding engine, which is the basis for the very high specific output of these engines. Thanks to a temperature reduction by around 140 degrees in the compressed, heated air, a larger volume of air reaches the combustion chambers.
At 56 kW (76 hp) per litre, the most powerful version of the four-cylinder unit (120 kW/163 hp) has the highest specific output of any van engine in this class. The same applies to the maximum torque, where the new engine in the Sprinter delivers the best figure in its class with up to 168 Nm per litre of displacement. This so-called downsizing – high output and torque from a comparatively small displacement – is a precondition for low fuel consumption, the resulting, low level of emissions and low weight.
An electrically controlled flap behind the intercooler ensures a precisely controlled mixture of fresh air and recirculated exhaust gas. To optimise the exhaust gas content, this is cooled as required to increase the volume.
The optimised airflow distribution is also remarkable. To reduce weight, the intake air throttle is of plastic for the first time in a diesel engine. In addition to a high output and low emissions, the sum of all these measures produces outstanding responsiveness, and therefore great agility and driveability.
Unprecedented smoothness thanks to balancer shafts
The new four-cylinder engines feature Lanchester balancers: two counter-rotating shafts lend these engines a level of smoothness never before achieved in this class. The shafts rotate within a cassette below the crankcase, and are driven by crown wheels. To minimise friction they are mounted in two needle bearings and an annular ball bearing. The balancer shafts are arranged in such a way that technical components such as a front axle differential and drive shafts can be accommodated for the all-wheel drive Sprinter 4×4.
These Lanchester balancers are not only a first in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, as this is the first time they have ever been used in a van. The exemplary smoothness of the new engine has also been aided by moving the camshaft drive to the rear and installing a two-mass flywheel.
Euro 5 compliance for all variants, EEV in preparation
Mercedes-Benz has a tradition of environmental commitment. When the current Sprinter generation was launched three years ago, the company was the first manufacturer to introduce a particulate filter as standard for all diesel models. As a logical next step, Mercedes-Benz is presenting the new OM 651 as the first van diesel engine to meet the Euro 5 emission standard. Accordingly there is no such thing as first and second-class levels of cleanness for the Sprinter: all output and weight variants meet the requirements of Euro 5.
In the near future the Sprinter will also be optionally available with EEV compliance (Enhanced Environmentally friendly Vehicle), the currently voluntary but most stringent emission standard in Europe. EEV classification requires a further reduction in the limits for carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and particulates (PM).
Exhaust gas recirculation is sufficient for Euro 5 in vans
Thanks to the very high level of engine efficiency, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is able to achieve both Euro 5 and EEV with exhaust gas recirculation. The Sprinter is able to dispense with the SCR technology and addition of AdBlue used for trucks. This is particularly advantageous for vans in several respects: unlike fleets operating heavy trucks, hardly any company refuelling facilities vehicles have a supply of AdBlue. The operating profile is also very different, as more frequent refuelling is required owing to the lower operating range of vans compared to trucks and buses. Which includes areas where there is no reliable supply of AdBlue. Moreover, the weight penalty incurred with SCR technology is a particularly important factor for vans in the gross vehicle weight class around 3.5 tonnes.
Sophisticated exhaust gas recirculation with two-stage cooling
The low level of untreated emissions is the basis for the environmental friendliness of the new diesel engine generation. In addition to optimised combustion, this is in part due to an increased exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) rate. The EGR system for the new engines is water-cooled in two stages, depending on requirements: initially the exhaust gases are always pre-cooled, and depending on the operating point there is additional cooling by the main cooler.
When the engine is cold, EGR is initially used uncooled. This causes the exhaust temperature to rise more rapidly, activating the oxidising catalytic converter at an earlier stage to reduce pollutant levels even further. As a welcome side-effect the engine warms up more quickly, which reduces wear and fuel consumption. The heating system also warms up the interior sooner.
Clean even under full acceleration
Equally remarkably, and unlike many other engines, the new engine achieves a high EGR rate even under full acceleration. Accordingly the Sprinter is quite rightly regarded as clean under all operating conditions. Thanks to a new EGR valve the system can also be controlled more precisely than in the preceding unit, with a further reduction in flow losses.
Naturally all the new engines also feature a particulate filter as standard.
Demand-controlled ancillary units lower fuel consumption
The development engineers have also newly designed the ancillary units with a view to fuel economy. The oil pump is an electrically controlled vane-type supply pump, for example – something quite new for diesel engines. This independently and adaptively controls its delivery volume, requires less power to drive and therefore lowers fuel consumption markedly. The oil pump is fully integrated into the crankcase. The pistons are cooled from below by oil-spray nozzles, which are only activated when required to save fuel.
Other ancillary units operating on an on-demand basis are the water pump – another first for diesel engines – and the alternator. In both cases this helps to lower fuel consumption.
Long operating life even under arduous conditions
Van engines are subjected to very different but always arduous operating conditions. Short-range operations with many starts for parcel services, low mileages and cold-starts with a high performance requirement for tradesmen and extreme mileages of up to 200,000 km per year for courier services are just a few examples from this broad range.
The preceding engines for the Sprinter were already known for their great reliability. In the new generation, their ability to take punishment has been increased even further. A special focus was placed on the typical load spectrums encountered in van operations. The new engine generation is designed for a B10 value of 350,000 km. In other words, at least 90 percent of the engines will achieve a very high mileage without a major overhaul. The engines have not only demonstrated this impressively on the test bench, but also during intensive in-vehicle endurance trials under extreme conditions.
Ice and heat: already a kilometre millionaire during trials
In addition to extensive test bench trials, the new OM 651 engine generation in the Sprinter absolved around five million kilometres of endurance trials before it was cleared for series production. This mileage was covered by development and series-production vehicles, as well as during customer trials in real, day-to-day operations. In fact one third of these endurance kilometres were accounted for by customer vehicles in practical operations. The test vehicles covered many of their stretches under difficult conditions. If this factor is included, the endurance trials actually amount to 11.5 million kilometres.
These operations ranged from heavy-duty customer use of all kinds to extremely arduous driving on test sites. Test vehicles were also sent on long-distance journeys at near maximum speed with the throttle floored. Test drives under low loads in distribution operations were no less demanding. The new engines also proved their worth under extreme climatic conditions: journeys through Finland at minus 30 degrees Celsius were supplemented with trials in the South African desert at plus 42 degrees.
Last not least, the new diesel engines have also impressively demonstrated their capabilities in Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. For this purpose alone, the engineers invested four years of development time, 100,000 hours of bench testing and ten million test kilometres on the road under the toughest conditions.
This long-term durability is also partly due to the optimised cooling system, which has two water jackets.
This ensures specific and effective cooling even where the greatest heat radiation occurs. At the same time this is one of the preconditions for the high maximum ignition pressure of 200 bar. The camshaft drive with a combination of gear wheels and a short chain does the rest to ensure a long operating life and reliability.
The new engines are compatible with B10 biodiesel
The new engines are also designed for the addition of biodiesel to the fuel. Since the start of this year it has been permissible to add seven percent biodiesel to diesel fuel (B7). In fact the new engine will tolerate a proportion of ten percent (B10).
Very long service intervals remain unchanged
The exemplary, long oil-change and service intervals of the Sprinter remain unchanged with the introduction of the new engines. The intervals continue to be 40,000 km for oil-changes and 80,000 km for servicing. These intervals are flexible, and are monitored by the standard ASSYST service computer. Depending on the operating profile, the intervals can be extended by up to 10,000 km. One of the major advantages with respect to reliability, durability and therefore costs is the duplex chain camshaft drive.
The new engines in the OM 651 series will initially be introduced in Sprinter versions registered as trucks. Introduction for models registered as passenger cars will follow. The previous engines remain available for markets which are not introducing Euro 5 for vehicles above 3.5 t gross vehicle weight in the autumn.
V6 OM 642: brilliant technology improved even further
With its brilliant technology, the three-litre OM 642 V6 engine – the only six-cylinder unit in Europe equipped with a six-cylinder unit – is one of the masterpieces of Mercedes-Benz engineering. This undersquare engine (bore x stroke 83 x 92 mm) is based on an aluminium crankcase with a V-angle of 72 degrees. Thanks to offset crankshaft crank pins and a balancer shaft, this engine runs more smoothly than any other diesel in its class. Other technical highlights include four overhead camshafts driven by a duplex chain and common-rail injection with piezo-electric injectors and eight-hole nozzles.
Output and torque increased, fuel consumption reduced
The latest version of this engine achieves the Euro 5 emission standard with a slightly increased output of 140 kW (190 hp) and a significantly higher maximum torque of 440 Nm. At the same time fuel consumption has been significantly reduced. Further developments in the V6 also include a rail pressure of up to 1800 bar and an electronically controlled viscose fan. A particulate filter continues to be standard equipment.
The electronically controlled viscose fan operates in conjunction with the air conditioner, and is automatically activated when needed. The lower activation frequency due to the new control system means a lower fuel consumption and lower noise emissions.
ECO Gear: new six-speed manual transmission for vans
The new, high-torque engines in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter harmonise perfectly with the likewise new ECO Gear six-speed manual transmission. This makes a major contribution to fuel economy and the improved driveability and agility of the new-generation Sprinter. The new transmission was completely newly developed for use in vans, and is likewise produced in-house.
Large ratio spread: low first gear and high sixth gear
The outstanding feature of this new transmission is a particularly wide ratio spread, with a low-ratio first gear and a high sixth gear for lower engine speeds. This is a dedicated design for vans, and takes typical situations such as moving off uphill with a trailer under difficult traction conditions or long-distance motorway journeys into account.
The new transmission makes for generally much lower engine speeds in the interests of low fuel consumption and great economy. These are accompanied by lower exhaust and noise emissions and improved ride comfort.
Two versions for four and six-cylinder engines
The transmission is available in two versions, namely the ECO Gear 360 for the four-cylinder engines (including the petrol and natural gas variants) and the heavy-duty ECO Gear 480 with wider gear teeth and a more rigid housing for the six-cylinder diesel and petrol engines. The ratio spread is the same for both transmission variants, from 5.08:1 (1st gear) to 0.68:1 (6th gear). In each case the fourth gear has a direct ratio.
High sixth gear ratio lowers engine speed and fuel consumption
Compared to previous transmissions, the most noticeable difference is the slightly lower first gear ratio and the roughly 15 percent higher sixth gear ratio, which is a precondition for keeping the engine speed low even when driving at higher speeds. The lower first gear assists the driver during slow-speed manoeuvring and allows the vehicle to move off without a slipping clutch. It also makes moving off easier in difficult conditions.
The housing of the new transmission is of aluminium. Both the dimensions and weight correspond almost exactly to those of the previous manual transmissions. The quieter operation of these transmissions also has acoustic advantages.
Highly precise operation of the new shift-by-wire system
As before, Mercedes-Benz favours a wire-controlled gearshift system with an ergonomic joystick-type shift lever in the dashboard for the Sprinter. This is completely isolated from the transmission. The new operation with a transverse shaft concept leads to highly precise gearshifts.
Choice of two final drive ratios
The rear drive axles for the Sprinter have remained generally unchanged, and the final drive ratios are also the same as in the previous models. Thanks to the powerful new-generation engines and the wide transmission ratio spread, the lowest of the final drive ratios previously available has now been omitted, however, though it still remains available on express request for special purposes. Customers have a choice of two final drive ratios for normal road operations, and in conjunction with the wide range of engines these allow the Sprinter to be perfectly configured for the type of operation intended.
Fuel consumption of the Sprinter significantly lowered
In conjunction with the new, agile high-torque engines, the new transmission with its wide ratio spread allows a very relaxed style of driving. The generally low engine sped level and the numerous technical innovations considerably reduce both exhaust emissions and fuel consumption.
Depending on the output variant, the NEDC fuel consumption is between 0.5 and 1.0 litres per 100 km lower than that of the preceding models. The difference is even greater in the case of the V6 CDI: depending on the configuration, a lower NEDC consumption by up to 1.5 litres per 100 km is achievable.
Significant savings especially for high-mileage drivers
This fuel saving spells striking financial advantages for high-mileage operators: for an annual mileage of 50,000 km, and depending on the model, the new-generation Sprinter saves between around 250 and 750 litres of fuel per year. At 150,000 km this advantage triples to around 750 to 2250 litres. For buyers of the new Sprinter this translates into a direct financial benefit amounting to three or four figures in Euro per year. At the same time the lower consumption conserves resources and considerably reduces pollutant emissions.
In tandem with this, the Sprinter is now even more dynamic, as the combination of new, more powerful engines and the new transmissions produces faster acceleration. Even more significantly, the flexibility so important in practical operations has improved greatly.
Trailer load increased to 3.5 t
The power of the Sprinter also provides the ideal preconditions for trailer operation. As a result the permissible trailer load of the 3.5-tonne Sprinter has been increased to the same figure, 3.5 tonnes. This produces a remarkable permissible gross combination weight of up to precisely seven tonnes. The increased trailer load is available for all Sprinter panel vans, chassis with cab and crewcab models from the 316 CDI upwards, but not for variants with a short wheelbase.
High safety level improved even further
During the course of the development work, Mercedes-Benz also further improved the acknowledged, exemplary safety level of the Sprinter. These improvements can be summed as: ESP trailer stabilisation, adaptive brake light, heated wide-angle mirror, lower position of the front foglamps and automatic transmission with Start-Off Assist.
ESP trailer stabilisation
If a customer orders the trailer coupling or preparation for a trailer coupling ex factory, ESP trailer stabilisation is included as standard. This additional function of the standard Electronic Stability Program ESP is already used in the Mercedes-Benz Vito and Viano. ESP trailer stabilisation uses the yaw rate sensor of ESP to recognise sinusoidal oscillations around the vertical axis of the vehicle, and initiates counteraction with active braking intervention. There are no additional sensors on the trailer or trailer coupling.
Once the trailer begins to snake, ESP trailer stabilisation brakes the front wheels and reduces the engine torque. If several interventions are necessary at short intervals, the braking action is heavier and the speed is reduced more severely. This unmistakably makes the driver aware of the snaking trailer, and that he is driving at critical speeds too frequently. The ESP warning lamp in the dashboard informs the driver that intervention is taking place.
Thanks to its great sensitivity, ESP trailer stabilisation already starts to counteract critical sinusoidal oscillations at the onset – a significant improvement in safety and comfort. ESP trailer stabilisation already recognises the trailer when the electrical socket is connected.
New: adaptive brake light
The safety features aboard all Sprinter variants have now been enhanced with the adaptive brake light, a flashing emergency braking signal. This function increases safety during emergency braking. The brake light flash rather than merely light up during the critical braking manoeuvre, thereby warning traffic behind in hazardous situations.
The adaptive brake light is activated during hard braking with more than 75 percent of the maximum brake pressure. The starting speed must also be above 50 km/h. When the vehicle comes to a halt after emergency braking from more than 70 km/h, the hazard warning lights are automatically switched on. They are switched off automatically when the vehicle moves off again. Owing to road traffic regulations, the adaptive brake light is not available for all countries.
New: heated wide-angle mirror
The combination of a large main mirror and an additional wide-angle mirror provides a field of vision in the Sprinter that is recognised as outstanding. Now the mirror is capable of even more: if the customer chooses the option “Heated and electrically adjustable exterior mirror”, the wide-angle mirror is now also heated. So misted-up or frozen exterior mirrors are now a thing of the past – another improvement in safety.
The same applies to the optionally available foglamps. They are now integrated into the front bumper in all models – as was already the case for the Sprinter with passenger car registration or xenon headlamps. Apart from discreetly upgrading the appearance of the Sprinter, this is above all a further safety benefit, as the lower position improves road illumination particularly in situations where visibility is poor.
The combination of an automatic transmission with Start-Off Assist is another safety improvement. When moving off on a gradient, this maintains the brake pressure for a certain time while the driver switches from the brake pedal to the accelerator, thus preventing the vehicle from rolling back.
Comfort increased by numerous new features
A high level of comfort is an outstanding attribute of all vehicles made by Mercedes-Benz. The main emphasis is on driver-fitness safety and ease of operation. The new-generation Sprinter meets these requirements with fundamentally revised seats, new features for electronic devices and telephones, and a new generation of radios.
Driver’s seat: even the standard seat offers a high level of comfort
The standard driver’s seat already has a high level of comfort, with improved upholstery and an intermediate fibre mat between the padding and cover. This fibre mat doubles the level of air permeability, decisively improving climatic seating comfort and therefore driver-fitness safety. The new seat covers have been standardised across the model range, and the head restraints are now fabric-covered.
As standard for the Sprinter crewbus and as an option for panel vans and chassis, there are now parcel nets on the rear of the front seat backrests (but not the co-driver bench seat).
Safe installation and operation of customer electronic devices
More and more van drivers are using their own mobile electronic devices, for example navigation systems or MP3 players. For this purpose the Sprinter is now optionally available with a universal interface installed on the dashboard to the left of the instruments. This has the advantage that the devices are safely secured, with connections to the onboard power supply and loudspeakers in the dashboard.
The new, wireless hands-free system has a similar purpose and is suitable for Bluetooth telephony. The system‘s microphone is mounted in the front roof area, with speech reproduction via the onboard loudspeakers.
A new generation of radios is also used in the Sprinter. These have already proved highly successful in various Mercedes-Benz passenger car series. These units feature a CD or DVD player/changer, AUX connection and connectivity for MP3/WMA/AAC devices.
Source: Daimler AG