I enjoy using the Mercedes Sprinter we have here at work…until one of two things happens…
It’s a great rig when you look at the Mercedes Sprinter. A doddle to drive and maneuver around which is truly impressive given it’s vast dimensions, the ability to pretty much throw in the equivalent of a couple of c-classes in the back and still have room for an entire living room complete with family on top and then there’s the feeling of being high up in the air and pretending you’ll rolling around in a panzer tank. I’ve used it for work, to help move people from house to house, to help drag home any large purchases – heaps of uses!
To be honest, parking a Mercedes Sprinter is an interesting challenge (and other drivers probably hate me parking next to them as you literally have to reverse 5 meters past the back end to see any oncoming traffic – first world bus like problems) and as good as the range is with a full tank (and it is great), you do have to take half the afternoon off to fill it full again. But they are not the things that put me off the mighty mover from Mercedes.
Usually our Mercedes Sprinter just pops over from one side of the town to the other but yesterday I took the beast out to a neighboring town 40kms away which meant I quickly discovered two things not high on the list of things I enjoy.
At 60kph it feels like the king of the road – strong, tough, able to knock garbage trucks off the road with the merest nudge. But right out of town when speeds hit 100kph it feels a little lighter on it’s feet and given the size, weight and overall capacity of this thing, it’s not a vehicle you’d expect would want to feel nimble at that speed. At all. I would take turns and bends very gingerly due to the strange and unwarranted feeling that the nimbleness would probably lead to my undoing, (which obviously it wouldn’t). With the light steering involved I felt I needed 120% focus to keep everything right and straight – not a feeling I’m used to at all given my fondness for cars with a very low center of gravity. Over time I’m sure I’d get more than used to it but it came as quite a surprise given how it normally feels doing town runs.
The second niggle I had was the (probably not that size in reality) gale force winds that joined the 100kph speeds for a catch up chat. It wasn’t a pretty day by any stretch of the imagination and after the rain introduced itself, the wind quickly followed. The odds of the winds being strong enough to even shift the Mercedes Sprinter even an inch sideways were pretty remote but boy do they feel pretty mighty at that speed. Having the windows down when I took off didn’t help my concerns as the space in the back amplified the rattles (and the gear I didn’t secure down before I took off of course..). Decent speed + strong winds + tall and narrow vehicle = fun with nerves and a pretty tired driver at the end of the trip.
Of course it’s not a rig from the 70’s, it’s a 2014 Mercedes Sprinter which means it’s probably safer than half the cars I’ve driven in the last 5 years (although nowhere near the fun tech level of a C or E class Merc) and the chances of it tipping over while driving it will full focus and proper attention would be super slim – but yeah, I was quite happy to hand the keys back at the end of the day and crawl into my station wagon to drive home (which now felt like an impenetrable fortress in comparison.)
Will this stop me from using it in the future? Oh god no! As mighty movers go this thing is far more enjoyable than the Ford Transit I had to drive once that constantly want to die at every set of traffic lights (and felt like a lumbering steam barge around corners) and knowing Wifey, they’re be plenty more furniture bargains to bring back home in it. However the next time I have to drive out of town with it, I might see if the company Kia Cerato is free instead…