Every year in wintry Finland vans from different manufacturers are judged by professional journalists from all over Europe. In focus is how well the cars behave in extreme conditions such as frost, snow and slippery roads. The test is divided into different categories. This includes handling, fuel consumption, load capacity and performance. The writers also take a close look at cold-starting ability, heater output and mirror and windshield de-frosting.
In the 3.5-ton class the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter went up against seven competitor vans. The cold test started in the city center of Helsinki. The vehicles were put to the test in typical driving situations such as repeated pulling away and slowing down. The objective is to consume as little fuel as possible despite of heavy strain. Acceleration, load capacity and interior noise are also assessed.
Then the vans go out into Finnish countryside. They must now show what they are made of. All the vehicles pass the cold-start test without any problems. However, the hammering from the engine compartment reveals just how tough this test is. Next up is a 700 km long-distance drive in the north of Finland. Focus here is the heating power of the vehicles. Therefore, shortly after starting the heaters are turned up to full power for 30 minutes. While the ice cold landscape passes by outside, the first drivers feel more like they are in a Finnish sauna.
The following day, the test is continued at a bitterly cold minus 35 degrees. Next on the program are tests on a cleared but completely ice-covered airstrip. The focus of these tests is ESP and driving characteristics at the limit. At the end of the various tests the Sprinter came out on top. It impressed the judges with the best overall package, and thus won the Arctic Van Test 2012 – incidentally, for the third year in a row.