Fleet News

Van Buyers Guide: City Vans

THE compact city van concept is not new, in fact it has been around for many years. Indeed sitting in even the most modern city van you could be forgiven for thinking that little has changed over the intervening years.

A six-footer can gain access to any of these vehicles, but they’d have to really want to get somewhere to spend a lot of time in the cab. As the external size suggests, these really are compact vans.

That said, they can carry a reasonable load, in some cases considerably more than a more expensive car-derived van, and they will whizz about town with the greatest of ease, parking in the smallest spaces.

If you have urban deliveries to make, and your parcels are not particularly large or heavy, a compact city van may well be the option you are looking for.

Daihatsu Extol

DAIHATSU has been in the compact van sector for many years, the Hijet range campaigning on merrily with an increasingly diverse range of vehicles and options.

These included a truly arthritic diesel, an LPG conversion for the petrol-engined van and a pick-up.

A couple of years ago the Hijet was replaced by an all new model, Daihatsu’s Extol, which has moved the game on some way.

Powered by a 1.3-litre petrol engine the Extol can handle a payload of 615kg and has a remarkable internal load volume of 2.2cu m. You also get twin sliding side doors and a tailgate at the rear to provide access to the load area in even the tightest parking space. Unlike the old forward control Hijet, the driver sits behind the front wheels in the Extol, making this a little bit more comfortable for the taller operator.

This move to the rear will also help in the case of an accident, providing more crumple zone between you and the vehicle in front. The Extol now comes with both driver and passenger airbags as standard.

Perhaps its biggest selling feature though was last year’s price reduction of £1,000, dropping the list price to just £5,995. If this is the sort of vehicle that suits your operation, you’ll be hard pressed to get more for the money.

Fact file

Daihatsu Extol 1.3 petrol
Power: 84.5bhp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 88.5lb-ft at 4,400rpm
Load box (lxwxh): 1,700mm x 1,330mm x 1,175mm
Gross vehicle weight: 1,600kg
Payload: 615kg (incl driver)
Price: £5,995 + VAT

Piaggio Porter

ITALIAN scooter manufacturer Piaggio decided to join this somewhat exclusive club a couple of years ago, with the introduction of the Porter van. Or should that be van range, as the Porter is available as panel van, window van, pick-up, tipper, Big Deck extended pick-up and the Maxxi, which is a pick-up with a twin rear wheel axle to enable it to carry larger loads.

Piaggio has retained the forward control layout, with the engine snuggling below the cab, rather than opting for a more laid-back driving position. That motor is, like all the others in the class, a 1.3- litre petrol pushing out a fairly pedestrian 64.3bhp. However unlike the competition, you can order your Porter with diesel power, though anyone who wants to drive a van with just 38bhp under their right foot must be doing some seriously short deliveries.

In addition you can order any of the petrol models with four wheel drive, should you need to climb a 20% hill. Given that the option will cost you £2,555, or around 40% of the price of the entire vehicle, it seems unlikely that there will be many takers. You can even opt for electric power if you fancy the milk float approach.

Piaggio certainly wins the prize for choice in this market, with no fewer than seven models, two chassis and more than 50 aftermarket body options. Maybe there’s one to suit your operation.

Fact file

Piaggio Porter 1.3 petrol panel van
Power: 64.3bhp at 4,800rpm
Torque: 99lb-ft at 2,800rpm
Load box (lxwxh): 1,760mm x 1,270mm x 1,340mm
Gross vehicle weight: 1,550kg
Payload: 560kg (incl driver)
Price: £5,995 + VAT

Piaggio Porter 1.4 diesel
Power: 38bhp at 4,300rpm
Torque: 65lb-ft at 2,600rpm
Load box (lxwxh): 1,760mm x 1,270mm x 1,340mm
Gross vehicle weight: 1,550kg
Payload: 575kg (incl driver)
Price: £6,495 + VAT

Suzuki Carry

VERY much in the current mould, Suzuki’s Carry is powered by a 1.3-litre petrol engine with the cab slightly back from the front wheels. The Carry is available as a panel van or a pick-up and the van benefits from twin sliding side doors and a tailgate, the same as Daihatsu’s Extol.

The Suzuki is slightly down on power compared to its main competitor, at 77bhp, though you don’t have to have the tappets bouncing to achieve it. It is also down on specification in some areas, with only a driver’s airbag on the standard list. You do get a collapsible steering column and side protection however.

At the business end of the van the load area is slightly shorter, at 1,620mm, but a little wider at 1,240mm. The Carry also loses out slightly on interior height to the Daihatsu.
But let’s face it, if you are filling one of these compact movers to the roof then you really need a bigger van. To be fair, there is little to choose between all of the manufacturers here in terms of their standard van offering. Unless you need diesel power, four wheel drive or some unusual specification, the choice is probably going to be made on location and the service provided by their dealers.

Fact file

Suzuki Carry 1.3 petrol
Power: 77bhp at 5,700rpm
Torque: 74.5lb-ft at 3,000rpm
Load box (lxwxh): 1,620mm x 1, 340mm x 1,100mm
Gross vehicle weight: 1,450kg
Payload: 577kg (incl driver)
Price: £6,895 + VAT

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