Bite-Sized LCV Reviews: Every light van we've road-tested

Date: Monday, October 08, 2018

Looking to buy a light van? Then read our handy, shortened road test reviews of the models in the market before making your next buying decision.

Citroen Berlingo

Cit Berlingo

Facelifted in 2015, the Berlingo is a competent and frugal load-lugger, with the load bay accessed via twin rear doors and a nearside sliding door.

It’s available in two panel van lengths, three trim levels, and with XTR+ enhanced traction, and as an electric van, a crew van and a platform cab. It’s also up for grabs with stop/start, manual five- and six-speed gearboxes and Citroen’s ETG6 semi-auto transmission.

All vans get Teletrac Smartnav satnav and Trackstar stolen vehicle tracking as standard.

Unfortunately, the handling is light years away from the slickness of the Ford Transit Connect, while the steering is a little slack compared with the precision available elsewhere.

Likewise, the five-speed gearbox isn’t a match for the best-in-class.

The dash is no-frills but functional, with the controls well laid out and easy to use.

However, the driving position leaves a lot to be desired, and there’s not enough space to sit on the middle seat. Finally, storage provision is good and there’s a handy box under that central seat, but none of the glove box compartments are big enough for the handbook.

Sample model: 625 Enterprise 1.6BlueHDi

Engine size    1.6-litre
Payload     641kg
Load volume    3.3m3
Combined mpg 65.7mpg
CO2    112g/km
Price (ex VAT) £16,883

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Fiat Professional Doblo Cargo

Fp -doblo -cargo

The Doblo Cargo’s virtues include top-notch handling, a high standard of build quality, and reliability.

Fiat also ensures plenty of choice: two roof heights and two wheelbase lengths, plus load area volumes of 3.4-5.0m3. Gross payloads extend from 750kg to 1,005kg.

Sliding nearside and offside doors are fitted to most models, and the cargo bay is available with a host of clever features. They include a rear roof flap through which over-length items such as ladders can be poked.

Four trim levels and three impressive Multijet II Euro6 diesels are listed. The 1.3-litre produces 95hp while the 1.6-litre cranks out 105hp or 120hp. A 95hp 1.4-litre petrol power plant is available too.

Safety is assured by the usual mix of electronic devices – e.g. ABS and electronic stability control – some of which are mandatory. Connectivity is aided by Gateway, an interface that can be used to collect all the vehicle’s key onboard data, which can then be relayed to a fleet management system.

Finally, the cleverly designed bi-link independent rear suspension helps deliver sharp handling and a comfortable ride.

Sample model: Cargo 1.6JDT 16v Multijet II L1H1

Engine size    1.6-litre
Payload     750kg
Load volume    3.4m3
Combined mpg 55.4mpg
CO2    134g/km
Price (ex VAT) £16,190

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Ford Transit Connect

The New Ford Transit Connect

Rivals trying to keep up with Ford’s light van will be bracing themselves for the launch of the revised Connect in mid-2018.

New to the model will be a 1.5-litre Ecoblue engine and eight-speed auto transmission. It will also be available with Ford’s 1.0-litre petrol Ecoboost engine and a six-speed manual gearbox.

An external makeover includes a three-bar Transit grille combined with slimmer headlamps, with HID Xenon lamps and LED daytime running lights available on high-series models. A front spoiler enhances the new look.

Inside, an upgraded cabin features a revised instrument panel with a new central control area that incorporates a floating, tablet-inspired 6in colour touchscreen on high-series models and features Ford’s Sync 3 communications and entertainment system.

The brand has extended service intervals on manual diesels to two years/25,000 miles from two years/20,000 miles.

The Connect continues to be available with load volumes up to 3.6m3, payloads from 520-890kg, and in van, kombi and double-cab-in-van bodystyles.

Sample model: 1.5TDCi L1 220

Engine size    1.5-litre
Payload     789kg
Load volume    2.6m3
Combined mpg 58.9mpg
CO2    124g/km
Price (ex VAT) £14,971

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Mercedes-Benz Citan

Mercedes 1190059_97266mer -vans

Three different load cubes – 2.4m3, 3.1m3 or 3.8m3 – are available for the Renault Kangoo-based Citan, and it comes with a pleasant, if not exactly exciting, working environment featuring cruise control, speed-limiter functions plus height-adjustable steering and driver’s seat, the latter being both comfortable and supportive.

Build quality is solid.

The Citan corners precisely, with no wallowing or wobbling, and the steering has a reassuringly meaty feel to it, offering ample feedback. The ride is firm, but not unpleasantly so, and the crisp gear change is a pleasure to get to grips with. In-cab noise levels are well-controlled too.

We can attest that the 114hp 1.2-litre petrol-engined model delivers a relaxing and smooth driving experience, particularly on short city routes where its slick, six-speed manual gearbox comes into its own.

This Mercedes-Benz petrol variant is more than happy to function in third gear at speeds barely touching 20mph, whereas out on a dual-carriageway the top gear is a welcome feature.

Sample model: 109 1.5 CDI Compact

Engine size    1.5-litre
Payload     435kg
Load volume    2.4m3
Combined mpg 60.1mpg
CO2    123g/km
Price (ex VAT)  £15,750

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Nissan NV200

Nissan Nv 2004

Nissan’s NV200 is up for grabs in E, SE and N-Tec grades, and with five- and six-speed manual transmission.

The 1.5-litre dCi engine is available with power outputs of 85hp and 110hp.

The combination of the 110hp engine and six-speed transmission surpasses the respectable rather than exceptional performance provided by the 85hp engine and somewhat notchy five-speed transmission, which are not best suited to motorway journeys in particular.

That six-speed transmission is slick and crisp, and, although we did not drive our test van fully loaded there was no sense it would lack muscle and power if called for.

The steering wheel is rake-adjustable and the cab is protected by a full-steel bulkhead, while the cargo area is conveniently reached via twin rear loading doors and sliding doors on both sides.

A kerb-to-kerb turning circle of 10.6m aids manoeuvrability when ducking and diving about town, while standard equipment onboard includes Bluetooth connectivity.

Finally, a fridge van and the electric e-NV200 vehicle also form a part of this Nissan range.

Sample model: Acenta 1.5dCi

Engine size    1.5-litre
Payload     728kg
Load volume    4.2m3
Combined mpg 56.5mpg
CO2    131g/km
Price (ex VAT) £15,735

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Nissan E-NV200

E -nv 200

In designing the E-NV200 Nissan has blended elements of its electric Leaf car with the carrying capabilities of the NV200 LCV.

The model has a payload of 770kg, more than the conventional model’s 740kg, and the load box can be reached through sliding doors on both sides of the body or through a choice of asymmetrical rear doors or a tailgate.

Nissan says maintenance costs are 40% cheaper than those of a diesel model due to not having an engine, gearbox or clutch, which are susceptible to wear and tear. And with a range of 106 miles on a full lithium-ion battery, which powers the 80kW electric motor, fuel costs are significantly lower.

The van can be fully charged within eight hours using a domestic supply, while a 50kW quick charger can recharge the battery to 80% in 30 minutes.

The ride in Drive mode is quiet and smooth, and acceleration is brisk, but the cabin lacks storage facilities, and the driving position and steering wheel aren’t fully adjustable.

Finally, all E-NV200 versions get ESP, iPod and MP3 compatibility, a reversing camera and a full bulkhead

Sample model: E Acenta Rapid

Engine size    80kW
Payload     770kg
Load volume    4.2m3
Battery range 106 miles
CO2    0g/km
Price (ex VAT) £22,860

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Peugeot Partner

Peugeot _Partner1

The Partner is available with 1.6-litre 75hp and 100hp diesel engines, a 1.6 98hp petrol, and also with electric power.

We tested the Blue HDi 100 panel van L1 (short-wheelbase) in top Professional spec, which offers features such as aircon and rear parking sensors. It also had a five-speed manual gearbox, although there’s also an ETG6 six-speed automated manual. The manual requires AdBlue to meet the Euro6 standard.

The 100hp Partner offers responsive performance, and the gearbox is slick enough, although an extra gear would be handy for dual-carriageways and motorways. Build quality is respectable.

Access to the load area is via a sliding nearside door plus twin, opaque asymmetric rear doors. Fold down the outboard passenger seat and flip a section of steel bulkhead into the cargo bay and you can extend the load bed by 1,200mm.

The cabin has three seats but the middle one is impractical. However, the middle seat back folds down to form a desk, and there’s plenty of storage.

The next-generation Partner is due in November 2018.

Sample model: Professional 1.6 BlueHDi L1 (s/s)

Engine size    1.6-litre
Payload     896kg
Load volume    3.3m3
Combined mpg 67.3mpg
CO2    110g/km
Price (ex VAT) £17,273

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Renault Kangoo

Kangoo Pic

We tested a 90hp 1.5-litre diesel ML19 Energy dCi 90 Kangoo in Business+ spec.

Its five-speed gearbox offered a slick change – although there were times on the motorway when a sixth gear would’ve been nice – nor did we have any complaints about performance.

The van was lively and eager even with weight onboard and offered a good ride plus sharp, responsive handling. The steering provides sufficient feedback and feels neither dead nor sloppy.

Entering Eco mode improves economy by up to 10%, says Renault, and doing so has little impact on performance when lightly laden.

All Kangoos come with a full-height steel bulkhead, DAB with Bluetooth, USB and aux-in ports, a driver’s airbag, electric windows, folding electric exterior mirrors and reversing sensors.

The Kangoo is also sold as the LWB Maxi with a 4.0m3 load area, and both can be ordered in electric Z.E guise.

Renault introduced its double-clutch auto gearbox to its Kangoo range for the first time last year, while the third-generation vehicle is expected to arrive within the next year or so.

Sample model: 1.5dCi Energy 90 Business

Engine size    1.5-litre
Payload     800kg
Load volume    3.0m3
Combined mpg 62.8mpg
CO2    119g/km
Price (ex VAT) £15,296

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Renault Kangoo Van ZE

Renault --New -Kangoo -Van -Z.E.33--

Renault’s revised electric Kangoo Van ZE has been dubbed the ZE.33 due to its new 33kW battery that the manufacturer says has increased range by 50% to 124 miles under real-world conditions in summer and up to 99 miles in winter.

There are four versions – the Kangoo Van ZE.33 (two seats and a load volume of 3.6m3), Maxi Van ZE.33 (two seats, 4.6m3), Maxi Crew Van ZE.33 (five seats, 1.3m3) and Maxi Crew Van Cab ZE.33 (which has a multi-positional, adjustable bulkhead that can accommodate either five people or a 3.6m3 load). At the end of 2017 Renault says it will also launch a Maxi version with a load volume of 6.0m3.

We drove the Kangoo ZE and found that much of the previous harshness in acceleration and braking has been eradicated. The test van had a 250kg load in the back, which improved the ride by tempering its more extreme EV tendencies without diminishing the load-lugging ability of the 60hp and 225rpm maximum torque available.

Full battery charging time has been reduced from eight to six hours, and a one-hour charge can top-up the range with an extra 22 miles.

Sample model:  ZE.33

Engine size    33kW
Payload         650kg
Load volume    3.6m3
Battery range    170 miles
CO2    0g/km
Price (ex VAT & PiVG) £14,195

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Vauxhall Combo

Vaux _Combo 4

The current Combo launched in the UK in 2012.

Based on Fiat’s Doblo Cargo, it impresses with a wide range of derivatives to choose from, solid build quality and reliability, low running costs, and more than respectable driveability.

It has inherited the lightweight, compact, bi-link rear suspension system from the Doblo Cargo, which improves ride quality while lowering load height and increasing storage space between the wheel arches.

The vehicle comes with 90hp 1.3, 105hp 1.6 and 135hp 2.0 common-rail diesel engines and a 1.4-litre 95hp petrol unit. The most frugal is the 90hp.

Two wheelbases, two overall lengths and two roof heights are on offer, meaning load capacities of 3.4m3 to 4.2m3 with payloads ranging from 750kg to 1,000kg.

Vauxhall also offers a long-wheelbase high-roof (L2H2) version of the Combo with a 1.0t payload.

The cabins are comfortable with high-quality materials and plenty of storage space too.
Vauxhall’s new Combo Life – the passenger-carrying version – will arrive in showrooms before the end of 2018.

Sample model: 2300 Sportive 1.3CDTi

Engine size    1.3-litre
Payload     955kg
Load volume    3.4m3
Combined mpg 56.5mpg
CO2    133g/km
Price (ex VAT) £18,173

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Volkswagen Caddy

VW Caddy4

The Caddy has long held a reputation for being not only one of the most well built and highest-quality light vans but also one of the most, well, understated when it comes to looks, a feeling that persisted when the fourth generation arrived in the UK in September 2015, for it did not appear radically different to its predecessor despite the restyled headlights and a sharper, more angular look to the front wings and bonnet.

It is available in three trim levels – Startline, Trendline and Highline – and with short or Maxi wheelbases.

All come with an infotainment system with DAB radio, Bluetooth, and safety features such as the brand’s post-collision braking system.

A lockable glove box and the rake- and reach-adjustable steering column are also included.

VW has boosted safety and kit levels further for the 2018 model-year line-up.

Upgrades include the standard addition of autonomous emergency braking and driver alert.

All vans also get a leather multifunction steering wheel and multifunction display.

And to encourage take-up of petrol models VW has reduced prices for 2018 too.

Sample model: C20 Trendline TDI

Engine size    2.0-litre
Payload     663kg
Load volume    3.2m3
Combined mpg 61.4mpg
CO2    120g/km



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