Fleet News

Road test: Vauxhall Movano

THREE weeks ago, I was sitting in a cafe on the waterfront at St Tropez, having driven a new Renault Master on a two-hour run from Nice. The sun was shining and all was right with the world.

Today the rain is beating down on a grey November day in Peterborough and I find myself behind the wheel of the Master's twin brother the Vauxhall Movano. It is hard to believe that these two vans are essentially the same vehicle.

What I must remember is that rainy Peterborough is the real world – the real fleet world at least – and sunny St Tropez is little more than a dream for most drivers.

At least I will now have a chance to test out those standard ABS brakes on the Movano, something I was unable to do on the dry French roads. I look in the mirror to check that there is nothing behind and jump on the brake pedal. Wow. The anti-locking mechanism snaps into action and the van pulls up safely as if by magic.

From the outside, the Movano has gained a chunky new look with angled headlights which give the van a look more in keeping with the Vauxhall family. The Movano's bottom half is almost entirely encased in plastic rubbing strips and bumpers, which should keep the body free of scrapes and scratches during its life. Side mirrors are increased in size over the old model too.

Climbing aboard, the cab has been treated to a makeover which sees a more stylish dashboard and improved seats. The driver's seat adjusts three ways but there is no adjustment on the steering column.

I anticipated a problem here as I stand well over six feet tall and normally need the steering wheel in its highest position, but in the event I fitted comfortably behind the wheel. So if I fit, most other people should too. The driver's seat is a dream. Not only does it feature plenty of support under the legs but it hugs the figure right up to the shoulders.

There are plenty of storage spaces in the cab, including an A4 paper sheaf holder in the centre, two-litre cola bins in each door and a docket clip.

There is also a handy grab rail in the centre of the roof for middle seat passengers.

Drivers will be pleased to note that a CD player comes as standard, as does a driver's airbag. In the old Movano, this basic safety device was a paid-for option. Also included in the basic price is remote central locking and an anti van-jacking device which locks all the doors when the van hits 5mph.

In the back, the Movano is much as it was before, although the rear doors are shaped now so that even when open to 90 degrees, the rear lights are visible behind the vehicle. My test vehicle was the 2.5-litre long wheelbase 115bhp version. The unit fires up with a nice meaty growl and the short-throw dash-mounted gearstick snicked into place nicely – gear changing requires only two fingers, such is the smoothness of the 'box. The steering wheel is almost horizontal, as in your average HGV and it gives the vehicle a satisfyingly truck-like feel.

Granted, this vehicle was unladen but up hills and down dales there was never any shortage of smooth pulling power. Even in sixth gear on a reasonably steep incline, the Movano pulled without complaining from 1,500rpm.

Fact file
Model 1.9 2.5 2.5 3.0
Power (bhp/rpm): 82/3,500 100/3,500 115/3,500 136/3,600
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 147/2,000 191/1,500 213/1,600 236/1,800
GVW (tonnes): 2.8 2.8-3.5 2.8-3.5 3.5
Payload (kg): 1,043 1,001-1,551 1,001-1,551 1,513-1,652
Prices (ex-VAT): £13,895-£21,995

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