Story & photos by Patrick P. Tulfo
AUTO Nation Group, the exclusive distributor of luxurious Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the country, added two more models in their stable. The MB Sprinter Luxury Coach and the OF 917 Bus, which was showcased to selected members of the motoring beat recently at their impressive showroom in Greenhills along Edsa.
Unfortunately, the original plan of riding the two models to experience of what both have to offer (the Sprinter on the way to SantaRosa, Laguna, and the Midi Bus on the way back) didn’t push through as the Sprinter was bought by an affluent buyer before the event so, we just had to content ourselves in inspecting the Sprinter up close.
According to Joseph Aylon, assistant vice president, PR Communications of Auto Nations Group Inc., they had to request the new owner to just pick up the van after the morning presentations.
The Sprinter joins the growing number of car manufacturers who are now selling these tall vans. The Luxury Coach variant, the only variant that was on display, was very impressive, it sits nine passengers in comfort, with six of them enjoying their own personal space in their leather clad, diamond-cut pattern executive chair equipped head and leg rests.
Entertainment is provided via dual LCD monitors upfront (just behind the drivers and front passenger seats). The audio-visual and the air-conditioning control panels are also placed here. There is also an automatic privacy screen that separates the driver and the cabin that further isolates it from noise. Meanwhile, the pleated curtains on all windows not only shield the passenger from the sun, but provide additional privacy, as well.
The spacious side door entry on the right side is currently the widest in its class, measuring at 182.1 cm x 130.1. It makes getting in and out of the van a breeze, add the retractable step board and the automatic door completes the luxurious experience.
The Sprinter is powered by a 2.1 liter 4-cylinder, two-stage turbocharged diesel engine that is rated at 163hp, paired with a six-speed manual transmission it promises to deliver best-in-class fuel economy.
Safety-wise, its Adaptive Electronic Stability Program (ESP) features a Crosswind Assist that takes control of critical functions and measures load conditions to facilitate maximum stability. Brakeforce is instantly applied to one or more wheels when wheelspin, oversteer or understeer are detected, and engine output immediately adjusted to stabilize the van.
The Sprinter on display was equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and is priced at a very reasonable P5.99 million with Arctic white as the only color available.
Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz OF 917 Midi Bus that we rode on to Santa Rosa, Laguna, and back to the showroom was replete with luxury amenities, as well.
“The high-decker Midi Bus is sized perfectly for the city, in fact, this particular model is same one that is being used inside the Bonifacio Global City,” according to Don Ramos, assistant vice president for commercial vehicles of Auto Nation Group.
The bus features 32 reclining seats that offer ample room legroom for passengers. Each seat has its own aircon vents with standard reading lights. The rear compartment on the other hand boasts of being one of the largest with total of 4,783 liters of space.
It gets its motivation from a Euro-5 rated 4-cylinder, vertical in-line, turbocharged and intercooled diesel engine that puts out 170 hp and 520 N-m of torque. It boasts of 4-5 km/liter fuel efficiency and range of 1,000 kms if its 200 liters tank capacity is filled to the brim.
The chassis and engine are manufactured by Mercedes-Benz in India, while the body is made by the Malaysian bus body manufacturer Alpha M8. “But if the buyers prefer to have the body assembled locally, we can have it done by Almazora [the only local bus body maker accredited by the company],” Ramos said. He added, “We are also happy to work with customers on their preferred seating configuration, coverings and other amenities to meet their needs.”
The sleek-looking Mercedes-Benz OF 917 Midi Bus Standard Edition is priced at P4.9 million.