For a pretty long period of time, the old Sprinter was considered the best van on the market, but in its latest years of existence the German LCV was starting to show its age and some rivals caught up and managed to overtake it.
The previous sprinter was sold between 1995 – 1996 and has managed to conquer the world of big panel vans pretty fast, thanks to its superior technologies and the famous German reliability.
Even today, the used Sprinters hold their value well and you can pay a pretty big price for vehicle in decent condition.
Like the new model, the old Mercedes Sprinter was also offered in various shapes with gross vehicle weights ranging from 2.8 tonnes to 4.6 tonnes with three lengths and roof heights. Mercedes had always lead the way when it comes to modern technologies and the old Sprinter made no exception as it was the first van to come with standard ABS brakes (from 120 versions above). Moreover, since 2003 the ABS was offered as standard equipment on the entire Sprinter range and ESP was also added.
Back in the 90s, vans looked more or less the same and featured a boxy shape with nothing worth to catch your eyes interest. The Sprinter’s design was also on the boring side of things, as Mercedes didn’t struggle too much to disguise its boxy shape.
Though, a keen eye will spot a few small details which proved that Mercedes’s engineers have tried to give it a touch of modernism to help it to differentiate from the crowd. For instance, take a closer look at the front grille which is simple but elegant, while the headlights have also an attractive style and give the entire vehicle a touch of dynamism. We also like the wraparound bumper that features a few air intakes which gel great with the front fascia.
Depending on the body type, the Sprinter offers a load volume ranging from 7 to 14.3 cubic meters and can tow maximum weights between of up to 2490 kg. The van comes with rear side-hinged doors and a convenient rear step integrated into the bumper for easier access. There are also side sliding doors which further increase the vehicle’s functionality.
Step inside and a calm and relaxing environment welcomes you. Every bit of plastic received maximum attention from the German engineers and the previous Sprinter offered by far the best interior in the class.
Plastics were also slightly better than any other van from the market and the fittings were faultless, proving once more than Mercedes knows how to build quality products, regardless of their application.
On the front seats there is ample space in all directions for up to three people to sit comfortably and none of them will complain about head- or leg-room.
The dashboard had a functional design while the center console was laid out in an intuitive way with most of the controls placed within easy reach. We don’t have any complains about the instrument cluster either as it was fairly easy to read.
Keeping it up with the modern trends the Mercedes Sprinter was also fitted with a dash mounted gear knob which besides the fact that it left the floor clean, it had also an ergonomic design.
One of our favorite elements found inside, is the modern steering wheel which looks good even if you’ll judge it by today’s standards. Apart from the part that it offered a good grab and had perfect dimensions it was also available with a few adjustments to help you find a good driving position.
Talking about driving position, the seats are a bit hard but and they aren’t as comfortable as the new ones. Yet they offered decent side and back support, being also available with a set of useful adjustments.
Engines and performance
Mercedes had three engines on offer for the Sprinter. The first is a 2151 cc four cylinder diesel with common rail technology that delivers 82 hp, 109 hp and 129 hp. There is also a stronger diesel which develops a maximum speed of 156 hp and even a 2.3 liter petrol engine that comes with 143 hp on tap.
The diesels are inherently more drivable, though the petrol offers brisker pace. Surprisingly even the weakest units offer decent performance and never feel underpowered.
All engines are mated on a five speed manual gearbox which offers a sharp response being able to deal great with the utilitarian nature of the vehicle and at the same time to offer decent fuel consumption.
Mercedes Sprinter Engines Specifications
|Engine capacity||Power – hp || Torque – Nm ||Fuel Type|
|2151 cc ||82||200||Diesel|
Ride and handling
The Mercedes Sprinter was designed especially for commercial purposes son don’t expect to any wonders when it comes to ride quality. On the other hand, thanks o its wise suspension setup, the Sprinter handles pretty well even at high speeds.
Naturally the body roll is present, but you’ll learn pretty fast how to live with it, as it isn’t as pronounced as the one found at other vehicles in this class.
Thanks to its good handling the Sprinter’s road manners were declared the best in the business. Moreover, the power assisted steering was also part of the high class, but it was a bit too light and could’ve come with better road feedback.
Just like the new model, the old Mercedes Sprinter was expensive to buy and compared to other vehicles in its class the running costs were also substantial even for the diesel versions. However, given Mercedes’ quality service, owning one of these vans it’s usually a hassle-free experience.
The vehicle was the best in its class in almost any department and also managed to hold its value well in time. The interior comfort was nothing short of excellent, while the numerous body styles and gross weights available helped it to be suited for various commercial duties. We also need to send a shout to its superior handling abilities which, at that time, have propelled the old Sprinter ahead of the pack.