Mercedes has announced a series of improvements for their popular Sprinter van. Notable highlights a seven-speed automatic transmission, a high-ratio rear axle and a new BlueEFFICIENCY package.

Mercedes has announced a series of improvements for their popular Sprinter van.

First and foremost, the model will become the world's first van with an optional seven-speed automatic transmission. It's the familiar 7G-Tronic unit and promises to deliver "silky smooth gear changes" even at temperatures as low as -30°C (-22°F).

To reduce operating costs, the BlueEFFICIENCY package includes an engine start/stop system, low rolling-resistance tires and an ECO steering system. Thanks to these changes, the typical four-cylinder diesel Sprinter van can have a fuel consumption rating as low as 7.4l/100 km. The package can also be combined with a high-ratio rear axle which can lower that figure to 7.0l/100km.

Lastly, there's an adaptive Electronic Stability Program with two new functions: Brake Disk Wipe and Electronic Brake Prefill. The first function removes water from the brake discs, while the latter gently activates the brakes when the driver quickly removes their foot from the accelerator.

The improved Sprinter will be available this spring.

Gallery: 2013 Mercedes Sprinter revealed with minor updates

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