German motorhome giant Hymer enjoys a particularly close working relationship with Mercedes-Benz, a relationship that was quite apparent at this year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. At Hymer's booth, the all-new Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 got out of the gates a little early, finding use as an off-road camper van concept. Hymer gave us a feel for what the new generation of off-road adventure Sprinter will look like while also showing one of the first production camper vans built on the third-generation Sprinter.
Mercedes debuted the all-new Sprinter van back in February. After inking a deal for thousands of vans several weeks later, it announced Hymer as a top new Sprinter customer. In fact, Hymer worked together with Mercedes on the development of the new Sprinter, particularly the newly added tractor head variant that sweeps the powertrain and other large components in front of the B-pillar, giving motorhome manufacturers more freedom on the back of the chassis for developing camper bodies.
Not long after signing that deal, Hymer took delivery of some of the first new Sprinter vans to roll off Mercedes lines. It presented its new Sprinter-based Hymercar Grand Canyon S camper van at a company product presentation in May.
Hymer could have just used the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon to show the all-new Grand Canyon S and larger Sprinter-based motorhomes in a much more public setting, but it went a step further, previewing the upcoming Grand Canyon S 4x4 with what it called an off-road show vehicle. It wasn't a pie-in-the-sky concept car or overdressed SEMA van, and actually looked quite straightforward and production-ready – it even wore a price sheet. The show van simply featured the Sprinter driver-activated AWD system that will be offered optionally in the future, along with the added bite of all-terrain tires.
Honestly, we like that Hymer didn't go too crazy, but it wouldn't have hurt to throw on a bull bar or kayak-loaded roof rack. But we guess it wanted to show something representative of the Grand Canyon S 4x4 models that will be rolling out to dealerships beginning in Summer 2019.
The AWD option won't affect the Grand Canyon S' interior layout or trim, which will look the same as the rear-wheel drives that are on sale now. The 19.4-foot (5.9-m)-long Grand Canyon S offers a single floor plan with a 77 x 53-in (195 x 135-cm) transverse rear bed made possible by the side expander panels you can see jutting out slightly at window level in the photos.
Moving forward from that bed, you'll find a central wet bath compartment with folding sink, shower and bench toilet; a kitchen area with dual-burner stove, sink and mid-height 90-L compressor refrigerator; and a dining area with expandable table between a dual-seat bench and swivel driver cab seats. An optional pop-up roof offers sleeping space for two more people, bringing total sleeping capacity up to four.
The Grand Canyon S may not be available as an all-wheel adventure van just yet, but it does have some features that are sure to be appreciated by both RWD and AWD owners. The elevated rear bed includes a fold-away mid-section that opens up a central aisle for storing bikes, boards and other oversized gear. The extended space is directly accessible via the rear double doors for easy loading/unloading, taking the hassle out of escaping off the beaten path with your favorite tools of the trade all packed up and ready for action.
Another handy feature for the adventure set is the bathroom shower that extends out the window and mounts to the side of the van, working as an outdoor shower - perfect for weary, trail-spattered weekend warriors, throughly used, dirtied gear, and muddied, exhausted canines.
The new Sprinter doesn't look dramatically different from the old Sprinter (in Düsseldorf we learned to look for the horizontal headlights to differentiate the new model), but it does bring with it an impressive suite of standard and available driver-assistance and interior technologies. The driver and front passenger will notice the upgrade immediately upon stepping into the cab, where the optional MBUX infotainment system with voice control brightens things up with its 10.3-in HD touchscreen.
On the road, car-derived driver-assistance technologies move new-Sprinter motorhomes ever closer to the dream of the camper van that drives itself while you relax and enjoy the views. Distronic radar-based distance control, active brake assist, and parking package with 360-degree camera are among the systems that can help the driver maneuver the commercial-size vehicle. Crosswind assist is another technology that's sure to be appreciated at the wheel of the broadsided van.
Other Grand Canyon S onboard bits and pieces of note include a 100-L fresh water tank, 85-L waste water tank, 95-Ah battery, dimmable LED lighting, and air heating/hot water system. A 135-Ah lithium Smart Battery upgrade is available optionally.
The rear-wheel drive Grand Canyon S launched this month and starts at €56,990 (approx. US$66,350) in Germany with 113-hp CDI engine and six-speed manual transmission. The all-wheel drive option will cost €11,390, or €11,990 ($13,260 or $14,000) with gear reduction.
The off-road show van from the Caravan Salon was fully equipped with a variety of upgrades above and beyond the AWD and wore a sticker of €92,074 ($107,200). Some of its notable add-ons included the 161-hp engine, 7G-Tronic transmission and MBUX infotainment system.
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