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Mercedes-Benz eSprinter review

Overall Rating: 7/10

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again – that’s could well be the motto for the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter and the rest of the Merc electric van range.

The latest eSprinter is the second generation of the van to be electrified and this time Mercedes means business. They’ve upped the power. There’s an increase in battery sizes. There’s even a choice of van sizes and body variants. It’s a total overhaul of the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter range and it couldn’t come soon enough.

As a reminder, the first generation eSprinter was powered by an 85kW motor. It used a 55kWh battery pack, and it was a quick fix solution for an electric large van that they didn’t have in the range.

It borrowed some of its equipment from the medium-sized Mercedes-Benz eVito and it used the chassis and body of the regular diesel combustion engine Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

It was a hefty compromise and it had none of the nice features that top-spec Mercs usually come with. Most notably was the absence of the MBUX infotainment system – a system that was first introduced in all Mercedes products in the Sprinter van.  

Weirder still was that there was also only ever one body size of the eSprinter. The first generation eSprinter was only available as a panel van in high roof and standard wheelbase Sprinter dimensions.

That really went against the grain for a model that is known for its broad range of bodies and otions.

Fortunately, that has been corrected with this latest version of the eSprinter which can now be had as a panel van or chassis cab in two body lengths. There’s also the option of either Pro or Select trim levels. Mercedes even plans to make the eSprinter available with off-the-line body conversions that will include dropside and refrigerated van models. Maybe one day they'll even be a Luton van too.

Battery sizes have increased from the 55kWh of old to three differing options with 56kWh, 81kWh and 113kWh batteries – but UK customers will officially only get the choice of the top two and will have to make special requests for the smaller battery. They’re also now made of lithium iron phosphate and contain no nickel or cobalt, which is better for the environment and the countries that endure the fight for these precious earth minerals. They range in weight from 470kg for the smallest pack up to 850kg for the largest, which also helps with the new eSprinter’s carrying capacity, returning a maximum load of up to 1575kg for the most payload hungry van.

Of course, in order to accomplish that figure the model has had to increase in gross vehicle weight with the largest versions topping out at 4.25-tonnes.

The flagship 113kWh battery, which we tested at launch, is, as a result, only available at the top GVW and in an L3 body size. Even at that weight it’s still only capable of just over one tonne thanks to its hefty kerbweight of 3248kg. On the plus side, however, the large battery pack does return a substantial number of miles.

Mercedes’ own testing managed to squeeze out 475km (295 miles) in a long distance drive and the official WLTP figure says it’s good for 271 miles. Invariably in the real world with a payload it will be less, but it’s a far cry from the 95-mile range of the previous model.

Charging is also less of an issue with a maximum charging speed of up to 115kW using a DC supply. A charge from 10% to 80% will take just 42 minutes. For those looking to charge away from ultra-fast networks, it can also take up to 11kW on an AC supply which will take around 11 hours for a full charge to 100%. What to charge on a single phase 7kW supply? Don't. Charging at 7kW will apparently take up to 17 hours - we did say the battery was big.

More body sizes mean differing maximum load volumes too. The eSprinter was originally only available in one size with a 11m3 capacity, but the new model will have a loadspace of up to 14m3 for the largest panel van. Like most electric vans now coming to market, the eSprinter will be able to tow, and gets a two-tonne towing capacity.

On the inside, the eSprinter has had a significant upgrade and now gets the full MBUX system with digital dash and infotainment system. The central screen is 10.25 inches in size and standard on all models with a touchscreen that includes DAB radio, Bluetooth and wireless smartphone connectivity. The van will also be able to create its own wi-fi hotspot and receive over the air updates.

Standard equipment on the entry-level Pro model includes heated electric mirrors, multifunction steering wheel, heated front driver seat, air conditioning and a reversing camera. There’s also a huge number of safety systems fitted as standard with particular highlights being Blindspot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and Intelligent Speed Assist. Cruise control is also standard.

Upgrading to the Select model doesn’t add a great deal in terms of equipment that you’re likely to miss. The van gets front and rear mud flaps, there’s a leather steering wheel and a more comfortable driver’s seat. You do get two more cupholders in the position where the gearshift would normally be found, and covered compartments in the top of the dash. There’s also LED headlights and automatic high beam headlight assistance.

While the outgoing and incoming eSprinters share the same appearance, there are significant changes to the technology going into the van. The rear plays home to a brand-new axle containing the electric motor, while new high voltage components and control systems are in the front portion of the van. The battery packs are all housed under the floor in the centre of the van in a toughened protective case to prevent damage. It’s a complete overhaul of the entire driveline that makes this eSprinter something of a halfway house – closer to a purpose-built EV than an ICE chassis with EV components shoehorned into it.

The proof, though is in the driving and the performance of the new larger battery and more powerful motors. With 150kW, the equivalent of 201hp, on tap, the eSprinter is brisk off the line. Testing it with a 200kg payload wasn’t going to overly stretch its capabilities, but 400Nm of torque, rear-wheel-drive and the typically sweet and responsive feedback you get from the Sprinter chassis makes it an entertaining van to drive.

Always a strong point of Mercedes vans, the ride comfort is particularly good, while its road holding is greatly improved over the ICE van because of a lowered centre of gravity from the hefty 113kWh batteries in its belly. The eSprinter is surprisingly nimble for a large van, and while we weren’t able to test it on a typical British winding road – a good portion of our route was urban or freeways in California – it responds well to a quick change in direction with accuracy and agility.

It also seemed possible that the eSprinter could live up to the manufacturer claims and get close to the range figures.

With three battery modes to choose from, Comfort, Eco and Maximum Range, you get differing profiles of power with the most miserly Maximum Range trimming 20% off the top end to ensure you can’t scream between the lights. It’s a tried and tested system of driving modes deployed in the previous eSprinter which used Comfort, Eco and Eco+ names instead.

The regenerative braking system procedures will also be familiar to those who’ve previously experienced the eSprinter with the same paddle shifter giving access to D-, D, D+ and D++ modes. However, there’s a newly introduced tier called D Auto.

It uses the radar-sensor to select the best of all the modes based on the traffic or the terrain. So, if you’re approaching stationary traffic and you lift off the accelerator it will automatically put it into the most severe mode (D-) to try and regenerate the battery as much as possible and scrub off speed. Conversely, if you’re going up an incline and you lift off, it will select D++ where there is no recuperation, allowing you to coast without losing unnecessary momentum. It’s a really great addition that takes the hassle out of regen modes and also smooths out the driving. It’s not perfect, and there were a few instances of it not reacting to stationary traffic, or selecting an overly zealous level of regen when it probably wasn’t needed, but it’s a mostly effective system that takes the hassle out of trying to optimise regeneration yourself.

Overall there’s a lot to like about the eSprinter. Firstly, it’s an improvement over the existing model with power, range and practicality all getting a much needed boost. Is it a gigantic step forward? No, probably not. Is it now a more attractive option? Definitely. With the largest battery it definitely feels like a product for the right type of person, but with the lesser size battery it could be a sensible option for a wide range of customers. We’ll know more when it arrives later in the year.

How long does the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter take to charge?

Charging times using a 7kW wallbox are 17 hours, which is reduced to 11 hours for a full charge from 0-100% on an 11kW supply. Rapid charging with a 115kW DC supply will take 42 minutes from 10%-80%.

How much is the eSprinter UK?

The eSprinter has a launch price of £72,360 ex VAT for the 113kWh eSprinter 414 Pro which rises to £76,920 for the Select trim level

What is the consumption of Mercedes eSprinter?

At its most efficient the eSprinter is claimed to have an electrical consumption of 28.2kWh/100km according to the WLTP combined cycle test. During the extra-urban test cycle consumption drops as low as 21kWh/100km while on the extra-high motorway test cycle consumption is as high as 34.9kWh/100km.

What is the range of the eSprinter?

The Mercedes-Benz eSprinter has a range of up to 271 miles according to the WLTP combined cycle for the 113kWh battery version. In a real-world test conducted by Mercedes, the also managed to drive the van between Los Angeles and Las Vegas on a single charge, achieving a total of 295 miles.

Where is the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter built?

The Mercedes-Benz eSprinter is produced in three locations. Charleston in North Carolina, USA, is the production site for all North American Mercedes-Benz eSprinter vans. European versions of the eSprinter are built in two locations, with Ludwigsfelde manufacturing chassis cabs and Dusseldorf producing panel vans.

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter

Price: £- £

Power: -
Torque: - Nm
Payload: - kg
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Loadspace Length Max: - mm
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Overall: 7/10

Driving: /10
Interior: /10
Practicality: /10
Value: /10
First Published: February 5, 2024
Last Modified: March 12, 2024  
Written by: thevanreviewer

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