Fleet News

Van buyers guide: medium panel vans


Nine of the leading medium panel vans in the marketplace assessed by Fleet Van, with running cost comparisons.


LAUNCHED last year, the Citroën Dispatch is one of the newest contenders in the sector and comes off the same factory line as its brothers the Fiat Scudo and Peugeot Expert.

Apart from the grille, there isn’t a lot of difference between the three but to add value, Citroën offers a free sat-nav and stolen vehicle tracking unit.

And it’s not just a cheapo one either – it’s linked to the Trafficmaster system so will take you round any obstructions.

Unlike its predecessor, this van comes in short and long wheelbase formats and offers a high roof in LWB guise.

Payloads go from five to seven cubic metres and there’s a choice of a 1.6-litre diesel with 90bhp or a 2.0-litre unit with either 120bhp or

ABS brakes comes as standard along with twin sliding doors but traction control is sadly a paid-for extra.

Fact file

GVW (kg): 2,661-2,963
Payload (kg): 988-1,188
Load vol (cu m): 5-7
Bhp: 90-136
Torque (lb ft): 132-236
Prices (ex-VAT): £13,870-17,105

Fiat Scudo

AS stated above, the Fiat Scudo is one of a trio of vans that come off the same production line (Citroën Dispatch and Peugeot Expert being the other two).

2008 Fiat Scudo

And while being very similar, the Scudo takes the prize of having the lowest monthly rental cost of any in the sector.

That’s probably owing to Fiat slightly undercutting Citroën and Peugeot on prices.

There are three seats in the front but not a lot of legroom for the middle passenger as the dash-mounted gearstick intrudes rather a lot.

Unlike some others in the sector, it’s a single step up into the cab, which might be important for drivers who have to do multiple drops.

This is because the Scudo is based on the Ulysse MPV, which means buyers can expect car-like levels of comfort and drivability.

Engines and cargo sizes are the same as for the Dispatch above.

Fact file

GVW (kg): 2,661-2,963
Payload (kg): 1,000-1,200
Load vol (cu m): 5-7
Bhp: 90-136
Torque (lb ft): 132-236
Prices (ex-VAT): £13,400-16,500

Ford Transit

THE Ford Transit is better known as a 3.5-tonner but the firm makes some excellent offerings in the 2.6-2.8-tonne gross vehicle weight sector – so much so that this van is the
current holder of the Fleet News medium panel van of the year title.

2008 Ford Transit

Ford has adopted a total ‘mix and match’ policy with Transit so you can order just about any combination of roof height, engine and wheelbase you want, along with – unique in the sector – either front or rear wheel drive.

Ford also offers ABS brakes and ESP traction control as standard, a major move towards safer driving on the roads.

The smaller Transits come in FWD only and offer short or medium wheelbases and low or medium high roofs.

A single 2.2-litre common rail diesel powerplant offers 85bhp, 110bhp or 140bhp and torque ranges from 184lb-ft to 258lb-ft.

Fact file

GVW (kg): 2,600-2,800
Payload (kg): 890-1,101
Load vol (cu m): 5.6-7.7
Bhp: 85-140
Torque (lb ft): 184-258
Prices (ex-VAT): £14,325-17,275

Mercedes-Benz Vito

IT’S not a tremendous surprise that the Vito has the highest monthly rental rates in the sector – after all, for that extra money you get a three-pointed star on the front of your van, Mercedes-Benz build quality and a host of standard goodies that come as paid-for extras among some of the rivals.

The Vito is a graceful looker – unless you plump for the high roof version which is rather ugly – and boasts short and long wheelbase models in addition to the extra height.

2008 Mercedes-Benz Vito

Load volumes range from 4.7cu m to 6.5cu m and payloads go from 863kg to 1,100kg.

Standard spec includes ABS brakes and ESP traction control – something most of the rivals charge for.

Under the bonnet goes a 2.2-litre common rail diesel unit offering anything from 109bhp to 150bhp and for owner-drivers, there’s a blistering 3.0-litre V6 powerplant blasting out no fewer than 204 horses.


Fact file

GVW (kg): 2,700-2,940
Payload (kg): 863-1,100
Load vol (cu m): 4.7-6.5
Bhp: 95-204
Torque (lb ft): 162-243
Prices (ex-VAT): £13,560-19,825

Nissan Primastar

THE upside of Nissan being taken over by Renault in the late 90s was that the Japanese firm was able to rebadge the Renault Kangoo, Trafic and Master as Kubistar, Primastar and Interstar.

2008 Nissan Primastar

So together with the Cabstar and Navara, these three vans gave Nissan the biggest LCV range of any manufacturer in the UK.

This might be important for those fleets wanting to do a solus deal with different models.

The Primastar not only shares its badge with the Trafic but is also the same van as the Vauxhall Vivaro – and it’s a cracking good van too, offering a delightful ride and handling experience.

Long and short wheelbase versions are on offer and there’s a high-roof variant too.

Engines are either 2.0-litre with 90bhp and 115bhp or 2.5-litre with a very quick 150bhp.

Fact file

GVW (kg): 2,661-2,946
Payload (kg): 998-1,118
Load vol (cu m): 4-7
Bhp: 90-150
Torque (lb ft): 132-234
Prices (ex-VAT): £13,870-16,420

Peugeot Expert

The Peugeot Expert may share its underpinnings with the Citroën Dispatch and Fiat Scudo, but some fleet buyers prefer the kudos of the Peugeot badge – and Peugeot claims that its back-up and support are superior to the others.

2008 Peugeot Expert

What we have here is a stylish contender which very much eclipses its older incarnation with long and short wheelbases and standard and hi-roof offerings, whereas the old Expert was only offered in one format.

Gone are the old naturally-aspirated diesels and in their place are two common rail turbos – a 1.6-litre offering 90bhp and a 2.0-litre with either 120bhp or 136bhp.

A different grille from the Dispatch and Scudo give the Expert the edge in the looks department in our view – and even high-roof versions are eye-catching and stylish, unlike the ugly high-roof Mercedes-Benz Vito.

Fact file

GVW (kg): 2,661-2,963
Payload (kg): 988-1,188
Load vol (cu m): 5-7
Bhp: 90-136
Torque (lb ft): 135-240
Prices (ex-VAT): £13,870-16,655

Renault Trafic

The Renault Trafic is a joint venture between Renault and Vauxhall, with the van also being badged as the Nissan Primastar.

2008 Renault Trafic

While it is built at the IBC plant in Luton, the design was very much Renault’s and despite the fact that it is seven years old, it looks fresh and stylish.

This van is a particular favourite with the testers at Fleet News and Fleet Van as it’s one of the most car-like commercial vehicles you’ll come across.

There are short and long wheelbase versions on offer, together with a high-roof variant which takes load volume up to a massive 8.3 cubic metres.

Under the bonnet is a choice of 2.0-litre dCi common rail diesels with 90bhp or 115bhp and a 2.5-litre unit offering a meaty 150bhp.

Specification is relatively high and includes ABS brakes.

Fact file

GVW (kg): 2,700-3,300
Payload (kg): 1,043-1,271
Load vol (cu m): 5.0-8.3
Bhp: 90-150
Torque (lb ft): 177-234
Prices (ex-VAT): £13,950-18,600

Vauxhall Vivaro

FOR anyone who still feels it is important to buy British, the Vivaro is a good choice.

It’s built in Luton and is sold by Vauxhall. But there’s more to the Vivaro than patriotism – it’s a brilliant van to drive, sharing its underpinnings with the Renault Trafic and the Nissan Primastar.

We’ve driven hundreds of versions of this van and can’t praise it highly enough, although oddly it has never won a coveted Fleet News van award.

Vauxhall also offers a great variety of Vivaros, including long and short wheelbases, high roofs, crew-cabs, minibuses and Sportive versions for the owner-driver who wants something a bit special.

As with the Trafic there a choice of 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre diesel engines ranging from 90bhp to 150bhp. Gross vehicle weights of up to 3.3 tonnes means there is a fair
amount of cross-over at the top end with the bigger Movano.

Fact file

GVW (kg): 2,700-3,300
Payload (kg): 1,043-1,271
Load vol (cu m): 5.0-8.3
Bhp: 90-150
Torque (lb ft): 177-234
Prices (ex-VAT): £14,365-£18,805

Volkswagen Transporter

The Transporter is the true grand-daddy of the sector, with its ancestry dating back to the old VeeDub ‘Splitty’ of the early 1960s.

2008 Volkswagen TransporterThis latest incarnation, the T5, has such high build quality that it almost seems hewn from a single block.

It’s not exactly the best-looking van on the roads but is typically German – no frills, hard seats and a general ride and handling experience that most of the rivals just can’t match.

Short and long wheelbases are on offer and gross vehicle weights go from 2.6 tonnes to 3.2 tonnes, thus encroaching on the bigger Crafter.

There are no petrol engines on offer in the UK but two diesels, a 1.9-litre unit offering 84bhp or 104bhp and a 2.5-litre unit offering 130bhp or 174bhp.

All wheel drive is also available. The most powerful Transporter is a real flyer but not for fleet purposes maybe!

Fact file

GVW (kg): 2,600-3,200
Payload (kg): 795-1,245
Load vol (cu m): 5.8-9.3
Bhp: 84-174
Torque (lb ft): 147-295
Prices (ex-VAT): £13,535-24,590

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