The microvan sector is a relatively small part of the total LCV scene in the UK. For example, out of 327,000 odd vans sold, just 6,500 were tiddlers.
On this basis you’d imagine – although you would be wrong – that most of the manufacturers don’t try very hard when it comes to the small end of the market. Take a small car, hoik the seats out of the back, blank in the rear windows and bingo! – a new van is born.
That might do for some, but at Vauxhall, they are rightly proud of their latest little baby the Corsavan. It might be small but a great deal of effort has gone into making it just right.
This van’s lineage goes back a fair old way. The Corsavan was first introduced in 1993 and before that there was the Novavan which started life in 1983. Vauxhall sells around 1,500 Corsavans a year and is launching this new one six months after the fresh Corsa car.
That model has been breaking all the records for Vauxhall and the firm is hoping that this will have a halo effect in the van market and boost sales.
It would be easy to assume that most Corsavan sales are retail but in fact Vauxhall sells 80% of its vehicles to fleets – BT among them. Apparently British Gas is also taking an interest in the new model.
From the B pillar forwards, the van matches its car brother, but at the rear a fair amount of work has been carried out turning the car into a commercial vehicle.
Access to the business end is easier, with a taller loading aperture and a low sill height, thanks to a large tailgate that lifts well out of the way to give greater headroom, yet extends down into the bumper moulding to make the van easier to fill up with heavy or cumbersome objects.
A half-height steel bulkhead and plastic panelling around the edge of the load bay add further protection, while load-lashing eyes are provided to help prevent shifting cargo.
Options include a full-size rubber floor mat (£75), an upper load restraint mesh (£65) and a four-piece load compartment cover (£75), which was purposely designed to fit into the load bay and offer the same protection from prying eyes as would a parcel shelf in a hatchback, yet at the same time be easy to fit, fold and stow away (all prices ex-VAT).
Security features include remote central door locking with deadlocks on both models, anti-theft protection for audio equipment, an electronic engine deadlock immobiliser and a dash-mounted button which allows the doors to be locked or unlocked from the comfort of the driver’s seat. New Corsavan will also fit into a standard-sized garage.
Payload is 550kg and load volume is 0.92 cubic metres.
The van comes with either a 75bhp 1.3-litre CDTi diesel or an 80bhp 1.2-litre Twinport petrol engine, allowing for LPG conversions (although Vauxhall won’t be doing these as a factory-fit item).
The 1.3 CDTi is expected to account for the lion’s share of sales and delivers 125lb-ft of torque between 1,750rpm and 2,500rpm, while the 1.2, has an output of 81lb-ft of torque.
Both units are from the Corsa car, and come with a five-speed manual gearbox. In the Corsa car, the 1.2 returns a combined mpg figure of 48.7mpg and up to 60.1mpg in extra-urban driving, while the 1.3 CDTi returns 61.4mpg combined, or 72.4mpg in extra-urban conditions.
The 1E T2 insurance group rating is the equal lowest in class.
There is just one trim level and prices are £8,740 ex-VAT for the petrol and £9,125 for the diesel.
Behind the wheel
Van testers like me – ie those who measure 6ft 3in – usually dread trying out small vehicles. I well remember trying to get into a Citroën Saxo once and failing miserably.
So the first thing I noticed, apart from this van’s dashing good looks (from the front it could well be a sportscar) was the fact that there is an awful lot of space in the cab – I asked the men from Vauxhall if it was it some kind of fiendish trick.
Even now I don’t know how they managed it but the new Corsavan has acres of legroom – and thanks to that forward-thrusting front windscreen, the top half of the cab feels voluminous too.
While I was driving, I didn’t even have the seat at full stretch, while a reach and rake adjustable steering column allowed me to find the ideal position.
And talking of seats, these are wonderful. In many small vehicles, the manufacturers create the illusion of extra cab space by making seats that would only fit a midget, but the Corsavan has full-size ones and more. There is plenty of back support all the way up to the neck and plenty of depth in the squab too.
Meanwhile the dash – all black and silver – would look at home in any high-powered sportscar.
As for cubbyholes, you are never going to get many on a vehicle of this size but Vauxhall has done its best, even providing a pull-out tray under the passenger seat.
In the rear, there is a wipe-clean floor and four load-lashing eyes to keep things in place.
There isn’t a great deal of room to be honest but then if you want to lug big items around in the course of your job, you aren’t going to pick the Corsavan in the first place.
This vehicle is firmly aimed at couriers, meter readers and the like, with the odd dog handler thrown in.
Under way, the Corsavan proves a smooth and capable performer. The 1.3CDTi engine is found in a variety of other vehicles – including the Fiat Doblo Cargo – and it’s an absolute gem.
Although 75 bhp doesn’t sound a lot on paper, it’s plenty for this van which will whip up to a ton with no problems if required.
My only gripe is that the power steering is a little on the light side for me and gives a rather vague feeling on the corners.
Others would, no doubt, disagree.
It looks superb, it’s supremely comfortable and it’s cheap to run. Not a bad tally for a little ’un. Vauxhall has great expectations from the new Corsavan and I reckon the bosses might just be right.
|1.2 petrol||1.3 CDTi diesel|
|Load volume (cu m):||0.92||0.92|