Entry-level camper: Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI

By: Peta Stavelli


Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI The compact, two-berth roadster is a perfect entry-level vehicle. Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI
Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI No space issues with this nifty little Sprinter. Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI
Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI
Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI This is a well-designed and easy-to-use touring van for two people. Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI
Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI The easy-slide door and double rear doors open fully so you can enjoy the outdoors, even when inside. Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI

If you're serious about enjoying the champagne lifestyle, and you've only got a beer budget to spend, you should consider the Mercedes Benz Sprinter 311 CDI.

I often go online to the Motorhomes, Caravans and Destinations website to look at motorhomes and caravans for sale and imagine what I would buy, if I had the money to do so. Dreams are free, aren't they? And window shopping educates the serious buyer.

The first thing to decide is whether to buy a motorhome or a caravan. Regular readers will remember the easiest formula for deciding the answer to that question: do you plan to be constantly on the move, or to set up camp and stay for a while?

I want to set up camp and stay for a while to really explore the surrounding area, so I have always concluded I would most likely buy a caravan. But lately a new class of entry-level vehicle has begun to attract me: the compact two-berth roadster.

The Sprinter 311 CDI’s features

I took a Mercedes Sprinter (from the RV Supercentre in Albany) for a four-day road trip, and I am now absolutely convinced a two-berth is the way forward. I fell in love with this nippy little roadster, which is capable of keeping pace with any vehicle on the road observing legal speed limits.

Sprinter _311_specs

I was hugely impressed with the road-handling capability of this vehicle, which is small enough to get into compact spaces at supermarkets and parking spots, but which is also large enough to enjoy for an extended break away.

It’s a well-designed and easy-to-use touring van for two people. With many windows, the easy-slide side door and double rear doors open fully, you are sure to enjoy the outdoors even when inside. And at night the vehicle becomes a cosy, private cocoon when the curtains are pulled.

Preparing the van for sleeping was as simple as dismantling the table, retrieving the boards and dropping them into place as you pull each of the bench-seat squabs towards the middle. The bed itself is a firm-but-comfortable king-size bed.

There are plenty of storage options, both overhead and below. For the size of the vehicle it was apparent that the Sprinter's storage capacity was well suited to extended breaks away. The wardrobe is adequate and the galley better than adequate — in fact, it's a joy to work in.

The three-burner hob was put to good use over three nights. I found cooking a breeze with everything in easy reach and we encountered no difficulties passing in the passage between the stovetop and sink bench, with fridge under and microwave above.

Ex-rentals are always well thought out when it comes to ensuring glasses, cups, and crockery are safely stowed for conveyance. In this vehicle, we appreciated the plate-holders and wine-glass rack, as well as the cup and drinking glass holders inside the cupboard doors.

Of the few grumbles I had were the noisiness of the fridge, but, to be fair, I had been warned to turn the fridge off at night. If I owned this vehicle I would also have a compact electrical freezer box, so things would remain frozen even when the fridge was turned off at night.

The noise of the water pump was another small issue. We worried that its use at night might disturb our neighbours, but this could be a commonly-experienced issue in the narrow confines of campgrounds.

Sprinter _311_4

The verdict

Driving this nifty Sprinter was a dream. On-road handling owes a great deal to the diesel engine's powerful low-end torque. I was impressed by its fuel economy, too.

Without getting too technical, the get up and go, manoeuvrability, smooth-handling, and stability of this vehicle leaves both driver and passenger feeling secure and in control.

In summary, if I was in the market for an entry-level vehicle right now, the Mercedes Sprinter would most definitely be in my line of sight. Price starts at $49,990 and includes a 12-month mechanical warranty.

Pros

  • Powerful Mercedes engine
  • Lots of light
  • Overall layout
  • King-sized bed

Cons

  • Fridge noise
  • Water pump noise

For more information contact The RV Super Centre on (09) 259 5810 or visit rvsupercentre.co.nz

For the full, unabridged review, check out issue 116 of Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations. You can subscribe to the magazine here.

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