Company Van Today - Issue 8 - Winter 2018

The Mercedes Sprinter range takes another step towards completion with the 4x4 version’s arrival. It goes on sale this February, and the model brings a hefty dose of improved off-road ability at the slight expense of some practicality. One notable element, fitted to the 4x4 tested, was a raised suspension set-up that increases the ride height by a full 100mm and the overall height by 165mm. This gives the Sprinter two things. First, it helps boost ground clearance and therefore the van’s ability to traverse really tricky terrain. And secondly, it helps give the van a more capable and elevated look. With so much extra height in the suspension, it is perhaps no surprise that the ride feels different from that of a standard Sprinter. Inevitably there is a little extra bounce and movement over bumps, but the big caveat is that our test took place entirely on snowy mountain roads, and certainly never got up to anything like motorway speeds. This movement is controlled, though, and it never feels like control is compromised. The Sprinter AWD doesn’t just come with four-driven wheels, though, because there are a host of technologies to help boost MERCEDES- BENZ SPRINTER 314CDI L2 AWD off-road ability. The electro-hydraulic 4x4 systemmeans that the van can be driven in two-wheel-drive mode, with a switch on the dash allowing you to toggle between the two at up to 6mph. A low-range gearbox mode and a downhill-descent control systemmean that drivers that are not familiar with tricky terrain should be able to head off with confidence. All these systems are easily turned on and off using a few simple buttons on the dash There are three engines available on the 4x4 version, ranging from this 2.0-litre 143hp 314CDI up to a 190hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel. A 163hp 2.0-litre diesel completes the range. Another option of note is the slick seven-speed auto gearbox – the first time a 4x4 has come with an auto. The 314CDI struggled a little more on straight faster roads, having to work harder to keep up with traffic, but this just meant keeping the revs a little higher – it never actually failed to keep pace. The V6 version is a powerful beast, though. It is smooth and quiet, and will easily cope with towing, high-speed cruising and acceleration. Few operators will be able to justify the extra expense, though, as this boost in pace adds more than £5000 to the pre-VAT price. The extra weight of the 4x4 system impacts payload, with the overall carrying capacity around 235kg less than the FWD equivalent – that’s a bigger dip than the VW Crafter 4WD takes versus its 2WD version. However, this still means the 314 is able to take around 1220kg, and the loading space is unchanged. VERDICT: Excellent off road ability from a technologically supreme large van. TomWebster SPECS PRICE: £38,605 PAYLOAD: 1220kg (est) POWER: 143hp FUEL ECONOMY/CO 2 : 35.8mpg/207g/km SPECS PRICE: £20,816 PAYLOAD: 675kg POWER: 120hp FUEL ECONOMY/CO 2 : 56.5mpg/ 130g/km Ford’s facelifting of its van range means that its Connect small van gets a revised look inside and out. The Connect also now gets a new diesel engine that has already seen service in various other parts of the Ford range, and which makes the Connect compliant with the latest Euro 6.2 emissions standards. This engine is a 120hp 1.5-litre diesel, and its official WLTP economy figures are 56.5mpg and 130g/km. As intended when the WLTP test was introduced, these figures should be much more indicative of what you will get in the real world. Elsewhere, the changes to the van are comprehensive, visually at least. The front end has been brought into line with the rest of the van and car range, while the interior is smarter and better equipped than the previous model. The new seats are a welcome change, while the option of touchscreen infotainment system brings a spot of modernity. Although there are versions in the Transit Connect range with a decent payload, this is not one of them. The 675kg limit means that this is better suited to lighter loads, which is a shame because the powerful engine is capable of hauling a lot more. VERDICT: Welcome and needed facelift smartens up the popular small van. FORD TRANSIT CONNECT CONNECT 1.5 TDCI LIMITED REVIEW COMPANY VAN TODAY.CO.UK 17