Transport for all

News stories are free to read. Click here for full access to all the features, articles and archive from only £8.99.

EVM has introduced an updated specification Elegance Accessible to its range. Richard Sharman visited its West Sussex site to see what improvements have been made

EVM is well known in the industry for providing a vast array of options for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, with everything from basic specification to luxury versions and anything in between. The latest addition to its extensive range looks at catering for the less able-bodied users in the minibus sector.

Expanding its horizons

2020 has not been the best year for anyone in this industry, but EVM has continued to expand its offerings with the introduction of the Iveco Daily-based Altas Viator and by undertaking conversions of Mercedes-Benz Tourismo coaches to full PSVAR specification. But, as EVM’s Sales and Marketing Director Peter Flynn explained, it is also expanding its accessible range on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: “EVM has focused on expanding its engineering capabilities over the last couple of years with the addition of key design and engineering personnel to the team. This focus on continual improvement through engineering has resulted in a ground-up review of every nut, bolt, weld and seam of our vehicles.

EVM manufacture bespoke Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibus and minicoach from 8 to 22 seats in low and high floor variants and accessible options.We take a concept from design to reality through the latest design software and state of the art manufacturing facility. We are now taking EVM to the next level, building partnerships that will enable us to provide a complete package across Ireland, the UK and Europe.

Are you enjoying this feature? Why not subscribe to continue reading?

Subscribe for 6 issues/weeks from only £6
Or login if you are already a subscriber

By subscribing you will benefit from:

  • Operator & Supplier Profiles
  • Face-to-Face Interviews
  • Lastest News
  • Test Drives and Reviews
  • Legal Updates
  • Route Focus
  • Industry Insider Opinions
  • Passenger Perspective
  • Vehicle Launches
  • and much more!
[/wlm_nonmember] [wlm_ismember]

“The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has also added impetus to our shift to accessible and service vehicles including the Elegance 22-seater. Our goal has been to consult with as many of our customers as possible to steer our development with customer focus to the fore. 2021 will see EVM emerge with a new and improved range of accessible offerings for our customers. Our Elegance accessible is the first of this new range and we believe the flexibility of its layout and quality of build will endear it to customers all over the UK.”

Passionate about its products

Having driven several EVM-converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinters now I always think I know what to expect, but the continued improvement of the products and the innovation of the team always brings something new to a vehicle. Before taking the Elegance Accessible for a test drive I was sat in the EVM Direct offices in Crawley talking to Peter Flynn and Managing Director Danny McGee, and it is fair to say that customer service and getting a product 100% right is at the heart of everything they do. That doesn’t end once you drive that new vehicle through the narrow gates at the Crawley site, either. They believe in ensuring they are always there to provide backup to their customers. It was great to hear two people talking with such passion about a range they believe in.

The Elegance Accessible is all about ensuring that everyone can get about with ease, and that is what makes it such a versatile fleet addition. It has 22 seats which is ideal for school contracts, but also has the flexibility to carry up to six wheelchairs.

Exterior impressions

The weather in December is never very predictable, but on this occasion, the sun was out, so it was time to take a look at the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter conversion. The base model for this conversion is a VS30 514cdi XLWB. You may think that a Sprinter is a Sprinter, but it all depends on how it has been converted. The Elegance Accessible conversion certainly looks the part thanks to its six large panoramic side windows and extra-long wheelbase, which gives the Sprinter more a coach-style look. The original rear doors have been retained and have also been fitted with OEM grey privacy glass. The test vehicle is painted in Mercedes-Benz Arctic White MB9147, which suits this conversion, as the grey windows go well with the standard bumpers and side trim mouldings.

The rear-mounted under floor PLS wheelchair lift is obvious when looking at the vehicle from the rear, but from the side profile, it is only just visible.

Interior quality

The test vehicle was fitted with the standard Mercedes-Benz Sprinter door with a very neat and tidy three-stage step conversion and smartly illuminated LED step edges. Operators can specify the vehicle with a Masats powered plug door which would add additional cost, but may suit some operators depending on what work the vehicle will be allocated to.

Boarding the vehicle, there are a number of yellow grab rails around the platform to assist passengers. The driver’s cab benefits from a full-height partition behind the driver’s seat.

Headroom is very good once inside the saloon, with the window surrounds and lower panels being trimmed in soft-touch velour. All saloon cavities have been filled with Rockwool insulation before interior fitment to ensure heat is maintained in the saloon.

The NMI composite Smart Floor with its eight-rail track system has a high-quality look and feel about it, whilst the 22 Phoenix Sirius seats look equally well built and are fitted with Phoenix’s NMI Millenium System with wheels, meaning they can easily be removed when a wheelchair needs to be carried. The seats are finished with UEG wipe or wash bases, and trimmed seatbacks. ABS rears ensure easy cleaning. All-age yellow seatbelts are fitted, along with yellow open headrests. Saloon heating is provided by Pedro Sanz Clima radiators that run the length of the vehicle, whilst ventilation is via an opening skylight in the saloon roof.

Full length LED night lighting is fitted on both sides of the saloon, with the option to have white or blue light. Additionally, a bright LED light is provided at the rear of the vehicle for night operation of the PLS Access under floor lift, which is smooth and quick in operation, with driver only having to release the lift, unfold the handrails and pull out the extension platform. The automated lift does the rest with a press of a button. It also has a soft edge fitted on the roll off ramp. Full details on the operation of the ramp can be found here:

The conversion is finished to a high standard throughout.

Ride quality

The EVM Elegance Accessible conversion brings the unladen weight of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to 3,210kg. Out on the road this brings a nice ride quality with no bouncing about in the saloon – on the roads of West Sussex it felt planted to the tarmac.

The 7-speed Mercedes-Benz G Tronic gearbox is a joy to use, meaning that passengers can enjoy a smooth journey whilst the driver benefits from an electric cab window, DAB radio, central locking, multi-function steering wheel – with paddle shifters for the gear changes when required – and a Siemens JD2 digital tachograph. The vehicle tested did not have in-dash air-conditioning, although this can be specified when ordering the vehicle, as can saloon air-conditioning.

In conclusion, the Elegance Accessible upholds EVM’s reputation for build quality and innovation, and sits alongside the rest of the range well, offering value for money and strong residuals.