This is a busy period for large vans with a raft of new models entering the market. James Dallas looks at those likely to stand out from the crowd
The heavy van sector is beginning to take on a youthful feel with a host of new models coming to market in a short space of time either side of the summer.
Breaking cover in the spring was the new Ford Transit and waiting in the wings to make their entrance as this autumn are the heavily revised Peugeot Boxer, Citroen Relay and Fiat Ducato, the facelifted Renault Master and a brand new Daily from Iveco.
Stealing a march on them all, however, was the refreshed Mercedes Sprinter, which arrived in the third quarter of last year. The van exudes quality and introduced a raft of new safety equipment to the sector on its way to scooping the What Van? Large Van of the Year Award for 2014.
But, in keeping with the rest of Ford’s new product, the latest version of its big Transit is a class act and looks capable of giving the Merc a run for its money in terms of quality and refinement. On the other hand, it’s not as pretty as the Transit Custom and is likely to face stiffer competition than its smaller sibling, which appears to have established clear leadership of the medium van segment in terms of both sales and capability.
The Boxer, Relay and Ducato are all built at the Sevel Sud plant in Italy as part of the longstanding partnership between PSA Peugeot/Citroen and Fiat. The brands are promising class-leading payloads from 1140kg to 1575kg (on panel vans up to 3.5-tonnes) and load space capacities from 8.0m3 to 17.0m3 .
All three manufacturers say the new products deliver higher levels of standard equipment, such as DAB readio and Bluetooth, extended service intervals, up to 15% more fuel efficient engines and lower emissions.
Like the Peugeot Boxer, the Citroen model will be powered by a 2.2-litre diesel engine with outputs of 110, 130 and 150hp but Peugeot also offers a 3.0-litre 180hp drivetrain on the Boxer, which is not available on the Relay. The 2.2 130hp unit, like that on the Relay, can be specified with stop/start.
Fiat has installed its own 2.3 Multijet II engines into its Ducato line-up with outputs ranging from 110 to 180hp. The 130 and 150hp units are available with stop/start.
The Boxer and Ducato range in price from £19,355 to £29,705 and £19,995 to £31,845, respectively while the Relay goes from £19,405 to £27,905.
Renault’s revised Master gets 2.3-litre powertrains of 110-165hp, up from 100-150hp, with the more powerful 135hp and 165hp versions being more efficient than their 110 and 125hp stablemates thanks to the use of twin-turbo technology, says the manufacturer. Standard kit includes a new ESC system with load adaptive control while Renault has confirmed new L4H2 and L4H3 versions with single rear wheels, aimed at long-distance use and courier companies. The single wheel, rather than twin-wheel arrangement at the rear, allows europallets to fit between the wheel arch intrusions.
First deliveries will take place in late summer.
Iveco is to launch the third generation of its 3.5-tonne Daily light commercial vehicle in panel van and chassis cab bodystyles in summer 2014. The model retains the ladder frame chassis structure of the current range, which Iveco claims boosts strength, flexibility and durability but the brand promises handling and load carrying capacity has been improved for the van version in particular by a new design featuring elongated wheelbases and a shortened rear overhang to improve drivability without compromising maneuverability in tight spaces.
Load volumes for the panel van line-up move up from 7.0m3 to 18.0m3 and on to a maximum 20.0m3, which Iveco says is best in class.
All models up to 3.5-tonnes are equipped with new front suspensions designed to improve comfort and load carrying capacity while a new rear suspension layout fitted to single wheel drive vehicles has decreased loading height by 55mm.
Volkswagen is to manufacture the successor to its Crafter large van at a new plant in Wrzensnia, Poland from 2016. A new model is set to go into production in the fourth quarter of that year. The announcement follows Mercedes’ decision to terminate the agreement between the brands that had seen the Crafter built on the Sprinter platform in Dusseldorf and Ludwigsfelde in Germany.