A rear-end shunt the other day allowed me to put our long-term Relay to the test in terms of crash-worthiness.
I was waiting at a roundabout ready to pull out into the stream of traffic when a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter loaded up with pre-packed sandwiches slammed straight into the back of me.
After ascertaining that my partner, who was sitting in the passenger seat, was uninjured, I alighted and scuttled round to the back of the van, where a rueful driver immediately admitted his guilt.
I felt quite sorry for him, actually – he was obviously in a tearing hurry to get his sandwiches delivered before lunchtime (our accident having occurred at 12.30pm) and just hadn’t seen that I’d pulled up.
And his Sprinter was in a much worse state than my Relay.
It had piled right into the rear step of the Citroën and a fair number of bits of plastic were hanging off, whereas my van suffered only a small dent to one of the rear doors.
Rather curiously, he told me: “Sorry mate but the brakes are cr*p on this van!”
I felt like pointing out that, as editor of the UK’s most vibrant van magazine and as a tester who has driven just about every van available to mankind, I happened to know that the Sprinter has some of the best stoppers in the business, backed up by ABS brakes and ESP traction control as a standard fitment.
But not wanting to prolong the ordeal, I simply swapped details.
To my amusement, as he drove off I noticed there was one of those How’s My Driving? stickers on the back of his van.
“Not very good,” is the obvious answer to that particular question.
The main problem with a ding like this is the hassle that comes afterwards.
I firstly had to call Citroën to tell them about the incident and then there was a big form to fill in.
I have had to take the van to the local Citroën dealer for an estimate of the damage and soon I will lose it for a couple of days while the repair is being carried out.
It’s all time out that a busy fleet manager can do without.
This incident apart, the Relay is continuing to disport itself with the utmost aplomb.
We’ve put almost 4,000 miles on the clock in the past couple of months and on several occasions the van has been loaded down to the gills with furniture, a fact that didn’t seem to have any effect at all on the ride and handling.
As reported in the last issue, we are particularly impressed with the fuel economy of the Relay.
True, a lot of the miles covered have been the motorway variety but even still, the onboard computer is reading a steady 37.8mpg, which is little short of amazing for a van of this size.
Price: £15,150 (ex VAT)
Company car tax bill (2007) 22% tax-payer: £55 per month
Insurance group: 5
Combined mpg: n/a
Test mpg: 37.8
CAP Monitor RV: £4,325/28%
Expenditure to date: Nil