Heart or mind, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter AWD’s a winner from both angles for Mectek’s Martin

Off-road enthusiast Martin Wright is loving his latest four-wheel drive vehicle – this time, though, instead of another American pickup he’s opted for a Mercedes-Benz van!

The Sprinter AWD bears the name of Mectek Mechanical Services, the Burton upon Trent business that Mr Wright established in 1999. A real head-turner in its metallic silver paintwork, with chrome grille and tough-looking Black Rhino hardened alloy wheels, the high-riding van is also fitted with spotlights, front-mounted hitch points and a tow hook.

It arrived via Mertrux Truck & Van, and was delivered by Van Sales Executive Annabelle Wright, who is based at the East Midlands-based Dealer’s Derby headquarters. No introductions were necessary, though, as she happens to be Mr Wright’s daughter!

Mertrux also supplied the operator’s six other Mercedes-Benz vans – two Sprinters, one a dropside-bodied chassis cab, four mid-sized Vito models and a small Citan – as well as the 7.5-tonne Atego truck it bought as an ex-demonstrator 16 years ago.

Mectek specialises in the installation, maintenance and fabrication of materials handling equipment, process control systems, associated steel work and general fabrication. Although it serves customers nationwide, the company undertakes much of its work for the major brewers with which Burton upon Trent is synonymous.

Mectek’s first Sprinter AWD has replaced the rear-wheel drive variant Mr Wright used previously in the course of his job. Although this entails venturing off-road from time to time – Mectek is also engaged by quarries, for example – he is happy to admit that his decision to opt for the all-wheel drive version on this occasion had as much to do with the heart as it did the head. “I’m a bit of an off-road freak,” he laughed, “and own a few American cars and pickups, among them a Chevy C10 from 1970.”

Martin Wright was a guest of Mertrux at a Mercedes-Benz Van Experience presentation, held at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire a couple of years ago. “It was a great event, but the off-road section made the biggest impression on me,” he recalled. “I was struck by how well the Sprinter AWD coped with some pretty challenging terrain, and decided there and then that I’d get one at the first opportunity.”

The Sprinter AWD is a genuine, factory-built option, rather than an aftermarket conversion, and sits higher than its standard counterpart, which assists when fording water as well as tackling uneven ground. It employs rear-wheel drive for road use, but all-wheel drive can be selected when venturing off road.

Conventional 4×4 vehicles rely on mechanically operated differential locks to prevent spinning wheels and guarantee equal speed at all four corners. The Sprinter AWD, by contrast, employs a development of the Mercedes-Benz 4-ETS (Electronic Traction System), which is integrated with the Adaptive ESP® anti-skid technology – on slippery ground this senses when a wheel starts to spin, and sends drive to those with good grip.

Although it doesn’t offer the V8 ‘grunt’ of the American-built vehicles in his personal collection, Mr Wright’s medium-length L2 Sprinter is a 319 CDI model, so powered by a range-topping 3-0-litre V6 that delivers a muscular 190 hp.

Acquired with competitive funding support from Mercedes-Benz Finance, the van is also fitted with a host of optional features including air-conditioning, a heated Comfort driver’s seat with arm rest, and a Parking package with 360-degree camera.

“I love my new Mercedes-Benz!” Mr Wright declared. “It looks fantastic, offers all the performance I could possibly need, and is easily the most comfortable and well-equipped van I’ve ever driven. I also use it to tow our mini spider cranes, a role for which it is very well suited.”

Mr Wright is a fan, too, of his new van’s Mercedes PRO connect technology. Like its rear- and front-wheel drive stablemates, the latest Sprinter AWD comes with 4G internet connectivity as standard. This means that as well as benefiting from the Mercedes MBUX infotainment system, customers can take advantage of Mercedes PRO connect’s range of fast, efficient and cost-effective vehicle management services.

Fleet managers can pinpoint the locations of their vans in real time, and monitor everything from the maintenance status of each vehicle, to the efficiency of the driver’s style at the wheel, and even the amount of fuel in the tank. Mercedes PRO connect also provides high-level navigation, communication and security services, and allows certain vehicle functions to be controlled remotely.

“I wasn’t convinced initially, but have quickly come to appreciate how brilliant this technology is,” enthused Mr Wright. “Even the little things it can do are proving surprisingly useful. So, for example, when I’m working on sites I keep the van locked – but when a colleague needed to fetch something from the vehicle the other day I was able to unlock it remotely, using my phone.

“I live in the Peak District, where it can get pretty chilly in the winter. Thanks to PRO connect I’ll also be able to pre-heat the van by switching on the auxiliary heater from the house, so it’s nice and warm by the time I need to use it.”

Like all new vehicles supplied through Mercedes-Benz Vans’ official Retail network, Mectek’s latest Sprinter benefits from a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, and MobiloVan cover, which includes free round-the-clock emergency roadside assistance, 365 days a year.

As a commercial vehicle specialist Mertrux also appreciates the fundamental importance of keeping its customers’ vans on the road and earning, and offers night-time maintenance and repair support to minimise downtime. “The Dealer’s aftersales service is excellent,” confirmed Mr Wright.


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