Four large vans to look out for

Date: Monday, July 24, 2017   |   Author: James Dallas

Citroen Relay

The Relay comes with a 2.0-litre diesel engine with outputs of 110hp, 130hp and 160hp. We found the middle one, in the Relay 35 L3H2 HDi 130 six-speed manual in Enterprise trim, to have a slick gear change, meaning the big van is a reasonably nimble performer in urban areas.

However, the variable power-assisted steering felt a little woolly and imprecise, which does not inspire a great deal of confidence when negotiating roundabouts and winding B-roads.
The 130hp powertrain provides plenty of muscle on motorway runs, albeit we didn’t have a load on board, and the cruise control, standard on Enterprise models, maintains a constant speed. Teletrac Smartnav satnav is a standard fit.

The cabin contains three grab handles, including one for the passenger in the middle, while the dash-mounted gear lever makes it easy to move from one side of the cab to the other. The middle seat, meanwhile, folds down to create a table. There’s a decent amount of stowage space, and overall the controls are easy enough to use, but the hard, black plastic interior is cheap-looking. Lastly, load space in the back is a cavernous 13m3.

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Iveco Daily

Iveco’s Euro6 version of its 3.5t Daily van is available with a choice of 2.3- and 3.0-litre diesel powertrains with outputs ranging from 120hp to 210hp. The firm offers both exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to comply with the emissions standard, with most manufacturers plumping just for SCR, which requires topping up with AdBlue. Iveco says the EGR engine has 8% lower fuel consumption than the Euro5 unit while the SCR version is a further 2% more frugal. The 3.0-litre is offered exclusively with SCR.

Customers can chose either a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto Himatic transmission, although the 3.0 150hp is manual-only while 3.0-litre 210 is exclusively Himatic.

We tested the 3.0 180hp engine with the Himatic, which Iveco claims can deliver repair and maintenance savings of up to 10% compared with manual models. The auto system shifted seamlessly and worked reassuringly well in combination with precise steering. With half the 1,420kg payload utilised the ride was sure-footed with no stomach-turning roll.

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Renault Master

With three lengths, three roof heights, front- or rear-wheel drive, five 2.3-litre diesel engines and a wide range of conversions, there’s no lack for choice where the Master is concerned.

There are also two trim levels, Business and Business+, and the entry-level gets rake-adjustable steering, ESC with hill-start assist and the Grip Xtend traction control system, plus DAB radio with USB connectivity and Bluetooth.

All engines are mated to six-speed manual or Quickshift6 transmissions.
The twin-turbo Energy dCi 165hp, which we tested in FWD LM35 LWB, medium roof, Business+ form, offers precise steering, and the six-speed is reliably crisp. On the motorway the van happily settles into sixth gear at 50mph.

Renault says the cabin boasts a  plentiful 150 litres of storage room. Much of this is accounted for by the space beneath the passenger seats, which isn’t compartmentalised. The overhead shelf, however, is split into two with a tachograph holder in the middle. Pulling down the middle seat back, meanwhile, reveals a desk with a swivelling table that can hold a laptop.

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Volkswagen Crafter

VW’s first new Crafters arrived with customers in May in front-wheel drive format, but rear-wheel and all-wheel drive 4Motion versions will join the line-up in late 2017.

The new van comes in three wheelbases, three roof heights, and as a single- and double-cab chassis cab, offering load volumes of between 9.9m3 and 18.3m3.
A 2.0-litre diesel engine powers the range with outputs of 102hp, 122hp and 140hp, plus there’s a bi-turbo TDI with 177hp. The powertrains come mated to a six-speed manual or an eight-speed auto gearbox.

The front-wheel drive, 3.5t, 140hp six-speed manual we tested wasn’t short of practical features and creature comforts. These included the Ergocomfort driver’s seat with 14 setting positions encompassing shock cushioning with weight adjustment to minimise back pain, an electric four-way lumbar support and an armrest.

The cabin is full of robust-looking materials and storage spaces, but the overall effect is a little dull. That said, the auto aircon is excellent, and the satnav/infotainment system cutting edge.

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