Fleet News

Buyers guide: sector by sector – large car-derived vans

However, for most manufacturers that label is no longer accurate. Apart from Vauxhall’s trusty Astravan, this mid-weight sector is now made up of dedicated van designs, although many of those vans can also be bought with rear seats and windows.

As is so often the case with design, the French led the way, with Kangoo, Berlingo and Partner showing that bolting a square box on to the back of a small car chassis was no longer good enough. It took some time for others to respond, but Transit Connect, Doblo Cargo and Caddy prove that the wait has been worthwhile. Few sectors are as well-served as this one, with customers able to specify almost to the kilogram and the cubic metre what payload and load volume they require for their specific uses.

And it’s not just at the back end that things have developed. The latest breed of common rail diesel engines, including some remarkable small motors, provide power aplenty, with fuel consumption improvements and service times that now run into years rather than months.

Ford Transit Connect

FOR many years Ford dominated this sector of the van market, with the trusty Escort van. But rather than follow this up with a commercial version of the Focus, the Blue Oval saw the writing on the wall and invested in production of a dedicated van, although, as with many models, you can now have that with windows and seats in the back. Enter the Transit Connect, in all its glory.

Wearing the Transit name was no accident, it immediately makes you think tough commercial vehicle. And to be fair, Connect ticks plenty of boxes for the van buyer.

There are short and long wheelbase models, the longer of the two also getting a higher roofline to boost capacity from 2.8cu m to 4.4cu m, which is why we’ll cover that in the next class up in two months time.

Despite being very much the rugged box on wheels, Ford has managed to make Connect fun to drive, with much of the flair of the Focus with which it shares some of its running gear. The van handles really well and is a joy to punt along the road.

There’s a choice of three trim levels, two diesel engines, a petrol and, like Vauxhall and Citroen, Ford offers a factory-built bi-fuel LPG variant. You also get a choice of two payloads for the short wheelbase van, three if you include the bi-fuel, so there really should be something for everyone. Unlike many other manufacturers who offer a fold-flat front passenger seat as an option, it’s a standard fit in all Connects. A wrap around bulkhead remains an option.

  • Transit Connect 200SWB 1.8 TDdi
    Power: 75bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 129lb-ft at 1,800rpm
    Load volume: 2.8cu m/3.4cu m with passenger seat folded
    Gross vehicle weight: 2,025kg
    Payload: 625kg
    Price: £9,575 + VAT/£10,075 + VAT in L spec/£10,615 + VAT in LX spec

  • Transit Connect 200SWB 1.8 TDCi
    Power: 90bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 162lb-ft at 1,750rpm
    Load volume: 2.8cu m/3.4cu m with passenger seat folded
    Gross vehicle weight: 2,035kg
    Payload: 625kg
    Price: £10,575 + VAT in L spec

  • Transit Connect 200SWB 1.8 16v petrol
    Power: 115bhp at 5,750rpm
    Torque: 118lb-ft at 4,400rpm
    Load volume: 2.8cu m/3.4cu m with passenger seat folded
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,970kg
    Payload: 625kg
    Price: £9,575 + VAT in L spec/£10,115 + VAT in LX spec

  • Transit Connect 200SWB 1.8 16V Bi-fuel
    Power: 115bhp at 5,750rpm
    Torque: 118lb-ft at 4,400rpm
    Load volume: 2.8cu m/3.4cu m with passenger seat folded
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,970kg
    Payload: 557kg
    Price: £11,375 + VAT in L spec/£11,915 + VAT in LX spec

  • Transit Connect 220SWB 1.8 TDdi
    Power: 75bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 129lb-ft at 1,800rpm
    Load volume: 2.8cu m/3.4cu m with passenger seat folded
    Gross vehicle weight: 2,230kg
    Payload: 825kg
    Price: £10,375 + VAT in L spec

  • Transit Connect 220SWB 1.8 TDCi
    Power: 90bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 162lb-ft at 1,750rpm
    Load volume: 2.8cu m/3.4cu m with passenger seat folded
    Gross vehicle weight: 2,240kg
    Payload: 825kg
    Price: £10,875 + VAT in L spec/£11,415 in LX spec

    Nissan Kubistar

    IF the Kubistar looks more than vaguely familiar, don’t worry, you’ve seen it before with Renault badges. As a quick, relatively low cost way into the car-derived market, Nissan couldn’t have picked a better base than the Kangoo.

    Kubistar is available with a choice of three ratings from its 1.5 litre common rail diesel engine, 57bhp, 65bhp and 82bhp, or a 1.2 litre petrol motor with 60bhp on tap. There are two specification levels, E and SE, though the top of the range dCi80 diesel is only available as an SE.

    What does SE get you? It includes ABS brakes with brake assist, electric windows and mirrors, including mirror heating, a radio/CD player, adjustable front headrests and an overhead storage shelf.

    The van’s load space is of course identical to Kangoo, at 2.75cu m or 3cu m with the Modularity Pack that folds the passenger seat flat to extend load length. Not bad perhaps, but some way behind vans like the Fiat Doblo Cargo. Payload is on a par though, with standard vans at 620kg and two high payload models capable of handling 800kg.

  • Kubistar 1.2-litre petrol 60
    Power: 60bhp at 5,250rpm
    Torque: 68lb-ft at 2,500rpm
    Load volume: 2.75cu m (3cu m with Modularity Pack)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,600kg
    Payload: 625kg
    Price: £7,600 + VAT (S), £7,950 + VAT (SE)

  • Kubistar 1.5 dCi 60
    Power: 57bhp at 5,250rpm
    Torque: 95.7lb-ft at 2,000rpm
    Load volume: 2.75cu m (3cu m with Modularity Pack)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,660kg
    Payload: 620kg
    Price: £9,400 + VAT (S), £9,750 + VAT (SE)

  • Kubistar 1.5 dCi 70 (standard payload/high payload)
    Power: 65bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 117lb-ft at 2,000rpm
    Load volume: 2.75cu m (3cu m with Modularity Pack)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,675kg/1,875kg
    Payload: 620kg/795kg
    Price: £9,950 + VAT/£ (S), £10,300/£ + VAT (SE)

  • Kubistar 1.5 dCi 80 (standard payload/high payload)
    Power: 82bhp at 4,250rpm
    Torque: 136lb-ft at 1,750rpm
    Load volume: 2.75cu m (3cu m with Modularity Pack)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,680kg/1,885kg
    Payload: 620kg/800kg
    Price: £10,900/£ + VAT (SE)

    Peugeot Partner

    SOMEHOW, the French manufacturers just seem to have a knack for spotting future trends. While Renault opted for its dedicated van design with Kangoo, fellow French makers Peugeot and Citroen were busy developing their combined answer to the problem.

    In Peugeot’s case the van was called Partner and like the others, it soon went on to take the market by storm.

    Facelifted two years ago, Partner now comes with a choice of 1.4-litre petrol, 1.9 litre diesel and 2.0-litre HDI turbodiesel engines. There are a choice of 600kg and 800kg payloads, and Partner manages a class competitive 3cu m of loadspace.

    The restyle made the front end look a little bit blobby, with that heavy black bumper, but inside the story was all good.

    The load height at the back is just 570mm, making it easy to fill that cavernous area. Up front Peugeot decided to use components from the 307 car range in the cab, so you get handy features like remote radio controls on the steering column and a four dial dash.

    You even get radio volume linked to the speed of the vehicle, so you don’t have to turn it up manually at motorway speeds.

  • Partner L 1.9-litre diesel
    Power: 70bhp at 4,600rpm
    Torque: 94lb-ft at 2,500rpm
    Load volume: 3cu m
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,755kg
    Payload: 600kg
    Price: £8,990 + VAT

  • Partner LX 1.4-litre petrol
    Power: 75bhp at 5,500rpm
    Torque: 90lb-ft at 3,400rpm
    Load volume: 3cu m
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,690kg
    Payload: 600kg
    Price: £8,800 + VAT

  • Partner LX 1.9-litre diesel
    Power: 70bhp at 4,600rpm
    Torque: 94lb-ft at 2,500rpm
    Load volume: 3cu m
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,755kg/1,955kg
    Payload: 600kg/800kg
    Price: £9,350 + VAT/£9,650

  • Partner LX 2.0-litre HDI turbodiesel
    Power: 90bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 154lb-ft at 1,900rpm
    Load volume: 3cu m
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,790kg/1,990kg
    Payload: 600kg/800kg
    Price: £10,100 + VAT/£10,400 + VAT

    Renault Kangoo

    RENAULT was one of the first manufacturers to turn the tables on the traditional car-derived van, coming up with the van first and then creating a car from it. Kangoo was an instant hit and has remained a favourite with many, its combination of practical dimensions and easy driving proving a winner with large fleets and owner operators alike.

    There are five engine power options – two petrol and three versions of the 1.5-litre common rail dCi diesel. The petrols start with a 1.2-litre putting out 60bhp rising to a 1.6-litre 16v engine kicking out 95bhp. The three diesel ratings are 57bhp, 65bhp and 80bhp.

    There are two specification levels, the basic SL and the SL+. Those opting for the more expensive interior can expect to find electric windows, a side loading door, side anchorage points, rubber floor covering, an overhead parcel shelf, rear wheel arch covers, glazed rear doors and fully adjustable headrests.

    Of course the Kangoo is also the only van of its size on the market that comes with four wheel drive option. The 4x4 comes with the 80bhp diesel engine only, in SL and SL+ specifications. Although no Land Rover Defender, the high-riding 4x4 is actually a very good van, on and off the road. However, the all wheel drive bits will rob you of a bit of speed and raise the fuel consumption.

  • Kangoo SL16P60 1.2-litre petrol
    Power: 60bhp at 5,250rpm
    Torque: 68lb-ft at 2,500rpm
    Load volume: 2.75cu m (3cu m with swivelling tubular bulkhead and folding passenger seat)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,600kg
    Payload: 625kg
    Price: £7,300 + VAT (SL), £7,850 + VAT (SL+)

  • Kangoo SL17P Auto 95 1.6-litre 16v petrol
    Power: 95bhp at 5,000rpm
    Torque: 109lb-ft at 3,750rpm
    Load volume: 2.75cu m (3cu m with swivelling tubular bulkhead and folding passenger seat)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,620kg
    Payload: 625kg
    Price: £10,550 + VAT (SL+)

  • Kangoo SL17dCI60 1.5-litre diesel
    Power: 57bhp at 5,250rpm
    Torque: 95.7lb-ft at 2,000rpm
    Load volume: 2.75cu m (3cu m with swivelling tubular bulkhead and folding passenger seat)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,660kg
    Payload: 620kg
    Price: £9,060 + VAT (SL)

  • Kangoo SL17dCi70 1.5-litre diesel (standard payload/high payload)
    Power: 65bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 117lb-ft at 2,000rpm
    Load volume: 2.75cu m (3cu m with swivelling tubular bulkhead and folding passenger seat)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,675kg/1,875kg
    Payload: 620kg/795kg
    Price: £9,510 + VAT/£9,760 + VAT (SL), £9,900/£10,150 + VAT (SL+)

  • Kangoo SL19dCi80 1.5-litre diesel (standard payload/high payload)
    Power: 82bhp at 4,250rpm
    Torque: 136lb-ft at 1,750rpm
    Load volume: 2.75cu m (3cu m with swivelling tubular bulkhead and folding passenger seat)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,680kg/1,885kg
    Payload: 620kg/800kg
    Price: NA/£10,210 + VAT (SL), £10,350 + VAT/£10,600 + VAT (SL+)

  • Kangoo SL19dCi80 4x4 1.5-litre diesel
    Power: 80bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 132lb-ft at 2,000rpm
    Load volume: 2.65cu m (2.9cu m with swivelling tubular bulkhead and folding passenger seat)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,890kg
    Payload: 600kg
    Price: £12,600 + VAT (SL), £13,000 + VAT (SL+)

    Vauxhall Combo

    IT’S a case of all change with Vauxhall’s evergreen Combo over the next couple of months, at least under the bonnet. Out will go the trusty 65bhp 1.7DTi diesel and the old 1.6-litre petrol engine, to be replaced by a 90bhp petrol and a 70bhp 1.3-litre CDTi diesel engine. A new range-topping version of the 1.7-litre common rail diesel engine kicking out 100bhp will also be available. That’s a third up on the current motor.

    Given that the Combo is already a bit of a roller skate to drive, these engines should put a smile on drivers’ faces across the land. And with a very competitive 3.2cu m of load space, and payloads right up to 810kg, it’s no wonder that Combo rides high in the sales charts.

    Whereas many manufacturers are offering these vans as cars, with rear seats and windows, Vauxhall has chosen to keep the Combo range for work. However, you can specify the two-tonne GVW Combo as a crew van, which gives you back seats and twin side sliding doors but no rear windows. When not in use, the rear bench seat folds flat to provide a full 1.98m of load length. If that’s not enough, you can still specify the fold-flat front passenger seat too, for the full van effect.

  • Combo 1.4i Twinport petrol (1700/2000)
    Power: 90bhp at 5,600rpm
    Torque: 92lb-ft at 4,000rpm
    Load volume: 2.76cu m (3.2cu m with FlexCargo folding passenger seat)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,710kg/1,925kg
    Payload: 588kg/803kg
    Price: £9,500 + VAT/£9,725 + VAT

  • Combo 1.4i 16v Twinport dualfuel (1700/2000)
    Power: 90bhp at 5,600rpm
    Torque: 92lb-ft at 4,000rpm
    Load volume: 2.76cu m (3.2cu m with FlexCargo folding passenger seat)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,710kg/1,925kg
    Payload: 530kg/745kg
    Price: £11,460 + VAT/£11,685 + VAT

  • Combo 1.3CDTi 16v diesel (1700/2000)
    Power: 70bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 125lb-ft at 1,750rpm
    Load volume: 2.76cu m (3.2cu m with FlexCargo folding passenger seat)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,805kg/1,995kg
    Payload: 595kg/785kg
    Price: £9,725 + VAT/£9,950 + VAT

  • Combo 1.7CDTi 16v diesel (1700/2000)
    Power: 100bhp at 4,400rpm
    Torque: 176lb-ft at 2,300rpm
    Load volume: 2.76cu m (3.2cu m with FlexCargo folding passenger seat)
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,840kg/1,995kg
    Payload: 588kg/743kg
    Price: £10,300 + VAT/£10,525 + VAT

  • Combo Crew van 1.3CDTi (with rear seats down)
    Power: 70bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 125lb-ft at 1,750rpm
    Load volume: 2.70cu m
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,995kg
    Payload: 708kg
    Price: £10,715 + VAT

  • Combo Crew van 1.7CDTi (with rear seats down)
    Power: 100bhp at 4,400rpm
    Torque: 176lb-ft at 2,300rpm
    Load volume: 2.70cu m
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,995kg
    Payload: 666kg
    Price: £11,290 + VAT

    Vauxhall Astravan

    WHILE virtually every other van in this class has been purpose designed as a commercial vehicle first, and then made into a car in many cases, the Astravan remains faithful to the old car-derived philosophy.

    But that doesn’t stop it selling. Tradesmen on construction sites in particular love the Astravan, mainly because it drives to and from the site like a car.

    Of course, from a purely practical point of view, Astravan struggles to justify its high price in this sector, with a load volume of just 1.6cu m, it’s less than half that of many of its competitors. Payloads too are nothing to write home about, maxing out at 610kg, where most others are just getting started.

    Yet Astravan remains a big seller, which perhaps shows that many customers don’t actually need vast load areas or truck-like hauling capability. It’s also one of the few in this sector that can be had with sporty bits, like alloy wheels, sports seats and body-coloured bumpers if you order it in Sportive guise.

    Changes for next year include dropping the old 2.0-litre diesel engine in favour of a new 80bhp 1.7- litre CDTi. Astravan, like so many Vauxhalls, can also be had with dual fuel capability, although that will steal even more precious cargo space.

  • Astravan 1.6i 16v Twinport petrol (Envoy/LS)
    Power: 105bhp at 6,000rpm
    Torque: 110lb-ft at 3,900rpm
    Load volume: 1.6cu m
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,710kg
    Payload: 600kg
    Price: £10,290 + VAT/£11,430 + VAT

  • Astravan 1.6i 16v Twinport dual fuel (Envoy/LS)
    Power: 100bhp at 6,000rpm
    Torque: 110lb-ft at 3,600rpm
    Load volume: 1.6cu m
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,710kg
    Payload: 517kg
    Price: £12,200 + VAT/£13,340 + VAT

  • Astravan 1.7CDTi 16v diesel (Envoy/LS/Sportive)
    Power: 80bhp at 4,400rpm
    Torque: 125lb-ft at 1,800rpm
    Load volume: 1.6cu m
    Gross vehicle weight: 1,795kg (1,205kg Sportive)
    Payload: 610kg
    Price: £10,755 + VAT/£11,895 + VAT/£11,855 + VAT

    Volkswagen Caddy

    IF you remember the old Caddy, which was based on the Polo, and think you’re looking at the wrong class, think again.

    New Caddy, introduced last year, takes its underpinnings from the latest Mk V Golf family, in particular the Touran people carrier and so is much more impressive. It’s a cracking van, with a really solid feel.

    Under the bonnet there are two diesel engines available, a normally aspirated 2.0 litre SDI PD, throwing out a rather meagre 69bhp, and the old faithful 1.9 TDI PD that pushes out a much more respectable 104bhp.

    That’s right, the smaller engine makes the most power, it’s all down to the turbo.

    The bad news for many drivers is that the lower-powered van will probably be the best seller by some considerable margin. It is £900 cheaper after all. But the 1.9 turbo is by far the better motor if you want to get somewhere with a load in the back.

    There’s only one body shape, with a competitive 3.2cu m of load volume. However VW has trumped Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, Nissan and the short wheelbase Connect with a payload of 815kg-819kg, depending on the engine.

    And that motor really is the only decision that Caddy customers have to make, unless they want to dip into VW’s extensive options bag. But the Caddy comes with a pretty comprehensive specification as standard, including driver airbag, a full bulkhead, six load lashing points, overhead storage and heated rear glazing with wash/wipe.

  • Caddy SDI PD diesel
    Power: 69bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 103lb-ft at 2,200rpm
    Load volume: 3.2cu m
    Gross vehicle weight: 2,205kg
    Payload: 815kg
    Price: £9,650 + VAT

  • Caddy TDI PD diesel
    Power: 104bhp at 4,000rpm
    Torque: 184lb-ft at 1,900rpm
    Load volume: 3.2cu m
    Gross vehicle weight: 2,235kg
    Payload: 819kg
    Price: £10,550 + VAT
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