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Van of the Year 2021: Electric Van - Best to Drive
Maximising the range of an electric van requires you to recalibrate how you drive; fortunately, the brilliant Mercedes eSprinter helps you do just that...
WINNER: Electric Van - Best to Drive
Priced from £43,950 Range 96 miles CO2 emissions 0g/km Load space 11m3 Payload 774kg Power 114bhp Torque 217lb ft
Maximising your range in an electric van requires a great deal more forward-thinking than with a regular combustion-engined vehicle: you have to pay extra attention to working out how long it will take you to slow down, when you can let the van coast and when you should look to harvest more energy from the braking system back into the battery.
Fortunately, the Mercedes eSprinter makes that all a lot easier. It provides three driving modes that alter the characteristics of the van, including limiting power to extend the van’s range and varying the degree of regenerative braking between strong and gentle, and also providing a standard mode and a super-coasting mode for absolute peak efficiency. Importantly, the controls for the regenerative braking are also mounted on paddles behind the steering wheel, so you can cycle through the settings quickly and easily.
These modes help you to make the most of the eSprinter’s official range of 96 miles, which is closer to 80 miles in the real world – fractionally better than the 75 miles you’ll get from the Renault Master ZE.
In other respects, being powered by electricity doesn’t compromise the driving experience. While the battery pack makes the eSprinter a heavy van, all that weight is sited low within the chassis, so the handling is not unduly affected. And, like the regular Sprinter, it has a relatively soft ride that compliments the smooth and urgent power delivery. So much so that the fact it’s a large 3.5-tonne van is soon forgotten, and there are few greater dynamic compliments you could pay it than that.
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