New-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinters car-like comfort impresses Martin Blands long-haul drivers
Proven product reliability and top-quality aftersales support brought Martin Bland Transport back to Dealer Mertrux Truck & Van for its first vehicle from the recently-launched third-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter range.
The operator is based in Rugeley, Staffordshire, and runs a fleet of 13 Sprinters, which it uses to make urgent, same-day deliveries of parts to major industrial customers across the UK and Europe. The landmark 316 CDI L3 long chassis cab is fitted with dropside bodywork by Delicarta Coachbuilders, of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Director Martin Bland, who founded his business in 1991, said: "The new Sprinter has quickly racked up several thousand miles and been very well received by our drivers, who love its smart, comfortable cab. The previous model was great, but this is far ahead of anything we've ever seen in a van."
Mr Bland continued: "Our vehicles cover high mileages, but as they're invariably making urgent deliveries we can't afford to have them breaking down or stuck in a workshop when they should be out on the road.
"The Sprinter has proved over several years to be superbly reliable, while we are also very well served by Mertrux, whose flexible back-up is second-to-none. Van Sales Executive Peter Gilbert handles all our enquiries quickly and professionally, and Aftersales Executive Lee Comelio is very helpful when it comes to getting our vans serviced.
"The fact that the Dealer's Derby workshop remains open at night is invaluable. Peter or Lee will always pick up a van at the end of the day, then drop it off again ready to go the next morning. By turning our vehicles around so quickly, Mertrux keeps downtime to a minimum and plays a big part in keeping our business moving."
Like its predecessors, Martin Bland Transport's latest van is the subject of a Mercedes-Benz ServiceCare plan, under which maintenance costs are covered by fixed monthly payments. "This represents excellent value for money and allows us to plan ahead with confidence, knowing there are no nasty surprises around the corner," said Mr Bland.
While external revisions are restricted to a reworked front end, slender new LED lights, a more upright windscreen and blistered wheel arches, new Sprinter has been transformed inside. The 2018 model's cab interior combines class-leading style, practicality and quality The result is the most car-like driving experience yet seen in a van, one that offers unrivalled levels of comfort, quietness and smoothness.
New Sprinter also breaks new ground thanks to its 4G Internet connectivity. This advanced manufacturer solution incorporates the Mercedes PRO connect range of fast, efficient and cost-effective vehicle management services, as well as the cutting-edge Mercedes MBUX infotainment system, which features a user-friendly voice control function that responds to "Hey Mercedes!" followed by the command, in conjunction with Navigation.
"The voice recognition system is proving really popular," confirmed Mr Bland. "Some of the guys didn't think it would be very useful - until they tried it. Now they all say it's easy and intuitive to use, and a definite advantage."
Meanwhile, to a reassuring armoury that has enabled the Sprinter to dominate the safety category at awards events for years, Mercedes-Benz has now added more innovation. New features include the autonomous Active Brake Assist system with another 'first' in the shape of pedestrian recognition technology, and ATTENTION ASSIST, which detects drowsiness in the driver and encourages them to take breaks when tired.
Like all Mercedes-Benz vans, Martin Bland Transport's Sprinters are backed by three-year, unlimited mileage warranties and came with MobiloVan cover, which includes free, 24-hour emergency roadside assistance.
"The warranty demonstrates the faith Mercedes-Benz has in its product, and is a big plus for us," added Mr Bland. "Our vehicles typically cover 60-70,000 miles per year so the fact that there is no mileage restriction is very welcome. We're delighted with our new Sprinter, which I'm sure will prove to be the first of many."