Mercedes Sprinter 2023 review: 419 LWB Panel Van – GVM Test – Big van rival for Fiat Ducato, LDV Delivery 9 & VW Crafter

Wide door openings and large assist handles on the windshield pillars make entering the cabin easy.

Finding a comfortable driving position isn’t difficult either, given the combination of a height/reach-adjustable steering wheel and a supportive bucket seat with adjustments for backrest angle, seat base incline/length and lumbar support.

The optional “Campervan Package” seats, with fold-down interior armrests, can also swivel toward the center of the cabin. We assume this pivoting function is to help with access to the rear of the car, but it was of no use in our test car due to the mesh cargo barrier.

Our only criticism of the driving position is that the thin brace between the fixed and sliding glass in the driver’s door partially obscures the driver’s line of sight to the door mirror. However, moving the seat base forward solves the problem, so it’s only an issue for tall drivers like me who need to sit further back.

Ride quality without a load is good, given the stiff rear suspension. It also has well-weighted and responsive steering as well as good braking, along with acceptable interior noise levels at speeds below 80 km/h in the city and suburbs due to the lack of a solid bulkhead and minimal cargo compartment liners.

The cargo volume in the cargo compartment is 14 cubic metres. (Photo: Mark Ostler)

However, tire roar emitted through the rear wheel housings and amplified by the cargo compartment can be annoying at highway speeds, depending on the roughness of the bitumen surfaces.

So, we recommend either installing a solid baffle (or using earplugs) to reduce noise levels if you plan to do regular highway driving in this configuration.

The 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine and nine-speed automatic transmission display great efficiency, with throttle response at its most immediate and lively when operating within the 450Nm peak torque band between 1400-2400rpm.

The facelifted car’s quick and smooth shifting gets the best out of this engine in most situations, without the need to downshift in manual mode.

The Sprinter did a simple job of hauling a 1.3-ton load around town.  (Photo: Mark Ostler) The Sprinter did a simple job of hauling a 1.3-ton load around town. (Photo: Mark Ostler)

To test its load-carrying ability, we used all our weight to lift 1,300kg into the cargo hold, which is still 400kg short of the GVM rating.

As a result, the Sprinter did a simple job of hauling this 1.3-ton load around town, with the only differences being a slightly firmer ride and the need for more throttle to keep the engine performing.

It easily carried this load to the top of our 13 per cent incline, 2.0km climb at 60km/h, although engine braking on the way down wasn’t as strong (as expected) given its small displacement.

In manually selected second gear, road speed quickly increased as the engine climbed toward the tacho redline on overtaking, before the car ignored our manual gear selection and shifted into third.

This automatic engine protection protocol is common on European trucks. However, if you’re not prepared for this, you may be surprised when you lean on the transmission to help with engine braking during a steep descent, and then it suddenly lifts up and begins to run away from you. However, the quad disc brakes easily make up for this deficiency.

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