Spring 2012 sees the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter adopt a number of product enhancements which underline its ambition to lead the large van segment. The tough, practical testing focuses on the key customer requirements of safety, economy and comfort.

The Sprinter is the first van in the world to be available with a seven-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. Fuel consumption is reduced even further by the BlueEFFICIENCY package and a higher axle ratio. What’s more, the standard-fit ESP® has additional and enhanced functionality. Like all new components of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, these new features have to demonstrate their ability to withstand extreme testing in unforgiving conditions near the Arctic Circle.

At temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius – and even lower – the new features have to prove that they meet the high quality standards of Mercedes-Benz. Testing begins with the cold-start performance of the engine equipped with the BlueEFFICIENCY package. Then it’s the turn of the new, seven-speed automatic transmission to demonstrate that it can still deliver silky smooth gearchanges when the ambient temperature is as low as that in a freezer. The same goes for the control systems. Their sensors have to be tuned with absolute precision to ensure that the systems are always ready to intervene with corrective measures – regardless of how hostile the operating conditions may be.

ADAPTIVE ESP as standard: functionality extended once again
Mercedes-Benz has raised the already exemplary safety standard of the Sprinter to an even higher level. Since the start of the year, the van has been equipped with a new generation of ADAPTIVE ESP with additional functions. The new features include:

Brake Disk Wipe: in the wet, this system builds up a low level of brake pressure on a cyclical basis. This wipes the film of water off the brake disc so that the full braking power is available straight away if it should be required.

Electronic Brake Prefill: if the driver releases the pressure on the accelerator suddenly, this is interpreted as the first step of an imminent braking process. The system reacts to this by gently applying the brake pads to the brake disc.

This means that the air gap between the two friction partners is effectively already reduced to zero by the time the driver presses the brake pedal. In this way, the reaction time for any braking which may be required is reduced.

In order to ensure that the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter meets the high standards demanded by its customers, tough quality checks are also carried out during the winter testing in Arjeplog. These concern all the vehicle systems – without exception. So along with the new ADAPTIVE ESP, the new seven-speed torque-converter automatic transmission has to prove its ability to cope with snow and ice for the umpteenth time. The verdict of the test engineers is unequivocal: top quality performance, even under extreme winter conditions.

In a world first, the new 7G-Tronic transmission will be available as an option for a van with effect from this spring. This seven-speed automatic transmission, which has a fully electronic control system and has already proved itself in many Mercedes-Benz passenger car models, has been adapted to meet the specific requirements of use in a van.

The great advantage of the new transmission with its seven gears is that it combines a wide spread between the lowest and the highest gears with closely spaced ratios. In practice, this means that the Sprinter has a low first-gear ratio which ensures that it can pull away dynamically. At high speeds, however, it is able to run at low revs and so benefit from fuel savings, low emissions and quiet operation. At the same time, the Sprinter can call on the appropriate gear for every driving situation with only small shifts in engine speed between the different ratios.

The favourable fuel consumption achieved with the BlueEFFICIENCY package is particularly impressive: for Sprinter models with a permissible gross vehicle weight of 3.5 tonnes and a four-cylinder diesel engine, the combined consumption (depending on the model variant and axle ratio) is as low as 7.6 litres per 100 km.

BlueEFFICIENCY package reduces fuel consumption and emissions
Every Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is, of course, designed to use fuel sparingly. All the diesel models have a battery management system while both the engine and transmission are designed for low fuel consumption and low emissions.

The already favourable fuel consumption of the Sprinter equipped with a van manual transmission can be reduced by about another 0.5 litres per 100 km with the optional BlueEFFICIENCY package. This fuel saving also results in a reduction in CO2 emissions.

The BlueEFFICIENCY package comprises the ECO start/stop function, tyres with reduced rolling resistance, the ECO power steering pump, alternator management and an electrically controlled fuel pump. As a result, the combined fuel consumption for a typical Sprinter with a four-cylinder CDI diesel engine, a van manual transmission, a closed body and a permissible gross vehicle weight of 3.5 t is reduced to as little as 7.4 litres per 100 km.

Exemplary: fuel consumption of only 7 litres per 100 km with new, high axle ratio and van manual transmission
Another measure to reduce fuel consumption and emissions is a new, higher, rear-axle ratio for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. This is available as special equipment for various vehicle variants. The ratio of i=3.692 reduces the engine speed by about six percent and so results in an outstanding combined fuel consumption figure as low as 7 litres per 100 km with correspondingly lower CO2 emissions.

Source: Daimler AG