Vauxhall Vivaro: Fully-loaded with versatility
Vauxhall's all-new Vivaro van is stronger, more refined and better equipped than ever
IF you've had the chance to drive a new van recently, you will already know that they are becoming more car-like and refined. Posh, even, writes William Scholes.
Vauxhall's Vivaro, a mainstay of the medium van market, exemplifies this trend.
The all-new third generation of the Luton-built van arrived in the summer, marrying traditional toughness and practicality with efficient engines and the sort of technology that used to be the preserve of premium cars - you can even get the Vivaro with a head-up display...
Vauxhall offers the Vivaro in two lengths - 4.95 metres and 5.3 metres - and as well as the basic panel van format, it can be had with a double cab compartment with space for six passengers and a platform chassis.
The maximum cargo capacity is 6.6 cubic metres with the longer van, and 5.8 cubic metres for the shorter one.
Meanwhile, the Vivaro is also stronger than before - it has a payload of up to 1,485kg, which is 200kg more than the old model, and can tow 2,500kg, an increase of 500kg.
There are four gross vehicle weight options, named 2700, 2900, 3000 and 3100, relating to the total weight of the van and everything it can carry in kilogrammes.
Opt for a factory-fitted tow bar, and you will also get trailer stability control. The system uses an electronic stability programme to calm the vibrations that a trailer can make which, if left unchecked, can cause dangerous 'snaking'.
The longer 5.3m van can hold objects up to 4.02m long if you specify something called 'Flex Cargo', which includes a load-through flap in the bulkhead under the front passenger seat. The middle seat can also be folded to create a table.
The doublecab model can be had with a hinged steel-mesh bulkhead that can move forward when the second row of seats is folded; this allows a high degree of versatility between carrying passengers and making the most of its panel van capability.
Vauxhall offers the Vivaro in two lengths - 4.95 metres and 5.3 metres - and as well as the basic panel van format, it can be had with a double cab compartment with space for six passengers and a platform chassis
It has become relatively common for cars to be fitted with a sensor which allows the tailgate to be opened when a foot is waggled in a specific place beneath the rear bumper; Vauxhall uses the same tech on the Vivaro to make automatic side-sliding doors available for the first time.
An electric Vivaro is due to arrive next year, but the majority of customers in the medium van market will still demand the flexibility, range and uninterrupted operating time of diesel power.
There's a wide choice of diesels, too. Lighter-duty operators will find the 1.5-litre unit, offered in 99bhp/199lb.ft and 118bhp/221lb.ft flavours, of interest.
The beefier 2.0-litre - in 118bhp/251lb.ft, 148bhp/272lb.ft and 178bhp/295lb.ft outputs - will likely have broader appeal.
All use a six-speed manual gearbox apart from the 178bhp Vivaro, which has an eight-speed automatic as standard.
Vauxhall offers four trim levels, rising from Edition and Dynamic to Sportive and Elite.
Dual side sliding doors, airbags, cruise control, hill start assist, DAB radio, Bluetooth and heated door mirrors are among the standard equipment on the Edition, which is priced from £23,573 excluding VAT.
Dynamic, from £24,663 ex-VAT, adds a 7-inch touchscreen, automatic headlights and wipers, as well as rear-parking sensors and air conditioning.
The Sportive model, from £25,823 ex-VAT, adds body coloured mirrors, handles and body side moulds, an alarm, automatic lights and wipers, an acoustic windscreen and thicker side glazing. It also has air conditioning, rear parking sensors, that 'FlexCargo' system, a six-way adjustable driver's seat, metallic paint and front fog lights. It also has smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The range-topping Elite, from £27,923 ex-VAT, comes with a full cargo of car-like safety kit, including lane departure warning, speed limit information, adaptive cruise control, drowsiness alert and blind spot detection.
Every inch a modern, refined and efficient van, the Vauxhall Vivaro carries itself - as well as whatever cargo you might throw at it - with distinction
It also includes 17-inch alloy wheels, smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and satnav.
As well as the utilitarian workhorse versions, the Vauxhall offer the Vivaro as a smart van-with-windows, which it calls the Vivaro Life.
This is a growing part of the market. Banish all memories you might have of your rattly old school minibus; these contemporary people-moving wagons can offer limousine levels of luxury with more space than you will find in a Rolls-Royce.
For a bunch of reasons, including economies of scale and sharing development costs, manufacturers tend to team up to design and build vans like the Vivaro and Vivaro Life.
In Vauxhall's case, there are sister vans from Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota. Adding to the range of choice in a crowded market for one-tonne vans are the likes of the evergreen Ford Transit Custom, the Volkswagen Transporter, Renault Trafic and Mercedes-Benz Vito.
The Vivaro, though, firmly deserves its place at the top of the class. Every inch a modern, refined and efficient van, it carries itself - as well as whatever cargo you might throw at it - with distinction.