Volkswagen influences allow the TGE to MAN up and take on the world’s best as John Maslen finds in his van review.
As far as challenges go, they don’t come much tougher than the one facing MAN as it launches its new TGE against the world’s best van manufacturers.
However, MAN’s truck and bus heritage, along with its ownership structure within Volkswagen Group, gives it a significant head-start both in terms of build quality, range, technology and design.
In addition, the TGE, offered in weights from 3-5.5 tonnes, will be produced at the same €800 million (£710m) plant in Poland as the Volkswagen Crafter.
But while the models share a platform, there are critical differences for buyers, according to the company.
The commercial vehicle focus of MAN is seen as a key differentiator, with its dealer network dedicated to minimising downtime.
In response to bus and truck sector demands, the 65-site dealer network is open six days a week for more than 16 hours a day on average and that coverage will be extended to van fleets.
The TGE will come in three lengths and three heights, with capacity ranging from 9.3-17.4 cu m, in a range of panel vans and chassis cabs, offering various combinations of front-wheel drive, available now, followed next year by rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
In the critical 3.5-tonne segment, all three drive options will be available.
Power comes from a 2.0-litre diesel offering 103-180PS, mated to the wheels through a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto gearbox, with the 142PS model expected to be the best seller.
The strong start provided by its Volkswagen Group parentage is evident when driving the TGE.
The cabin is solid and well designed; built with the driver in mind, there is plenty of storage for documents and drinks, with a clever compartmentalised approach at the back of the dashboard to stop items sliding around on corners, while a folding table on the middle seat is a worthwhile option. USB ports add to the flexibility in the cabin.
The electro-mechanical steering can adjust the level of assistance provided, so it is light at low speeds, but weights up well during cruising, providing the right level of feedback through the multi-function steering wheel.
Engine noise from the free-revving unit in the 3.140 version tested is subdued and there is plenty of power available from the 142PS engine, although the TGE 3.100, with 103PS, would also be a good choice for fleets requiring less power, as it also pulls strongly from low revs.
In the six-speed manual version, the engine provides a wave of torque through the easy-shifting gearbox. However, it will be well worth reviewing the eight-speed manual as more models become available, particularly for city use.
Payloads on the 3.0-tonne models are just in excess of 800kgs, while the 3.5-tonne model takes just more than 1,300kgs, with the rear payload area free of obstructions and offering plenty of mounting points.
Prices start at £23,990 for the 2.100 103PS 3.0-tonne and £26,490 for the 3.100 103PS 3.5-tonne model, including a three-year unlimited manufacturer’s warranty.
There is a wealth of options that can increase the final cost, ranging from upgraded seats that provide truck levels of comfort, to improved lights and electronic upgrades, including trailer assist and parking assist, that allow hands-free manoeuvring, as the electro-mechanical steering takes over.
Model tested: MAN TGE 3.140 FWD