Four medium vans to look out for

Date: Monday, June 26, 2017

Citroen Dispatch

Citroen’s Dispatch is available with one roof height of 1.90m and three lengths of 4.60m, 4.95m, and 5.30m, which help to give the latter two a class-leading 1,400kg-plus payload that matches its Peugeot Expert and Toyota Proace sister vehicles.

Power is provided by either a 1.6-litre diesel with outputs of 95hp or 115hp or a 2.0-litre diesel, which offers 120hp, 150hp or 180hp. We tried the 150hp M Blue HDi in the top Enterprise Plus trim, and with the help of stop/start – standard across the range – this model boasts impressive official figures of 53.3mpg with CO2 of 139g/km.

The engine delivers excellent acceleration, while a slick gear change from the six-speed manual transmission helps get the best out of the impressively responsive powertrain. Cruise control is included from the entry-level van upwards.

The ride is smooth and refined with little discomfort caused by uneven road surfaces, and wind and engine noise is not intrusive.

Interior finishing may not quite match Ford’s Transit Custom or VW’s Transporter, but the cabin is well laid out and provides useful features.

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Toyota Proace

The Proace is available with three body sizes and two wheelbase lengths. A roof height of 1.90m means it can negotiate barriers at toll gates and underground car parks, and in common with its sister vehicles, the Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch, medium and long derivatives with the 2.0-litre engine boast a class-leading max payload of up to 1.4t.

But the engine line-up is more limited than its counterparts. There’s the 95hp 1.6, available in Compact guise, the 95hp and 115hp 1.6 engines, plus the 120hp 2.0-litre unit in the medium body and only the 120hp 2.0-litre in the long format.

The entry-level model is wedded to a five-speed ’box; all the others are six-speed manual and come with stop/start. We tested the 120hp 2.0 medium-length Proace in Comfort trim. With its 1.4t payload filled to 50%, the ride was comfortable, while wind and road noise was well suppressed. Also, the short-throw change is slick, and from a handling point of view the Proace holds its own with the best-in-class, such as Ford’s Transit Custom.

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Nissan NV300

A rebadged Renault Trafic, the NV300 is available in two wheelbases (L1 and L2), a standard (H1) or high roof (H2), and three trim levels. Nissan claims all versions can accommodate three standard Europallets. Gross vehicle weights extend from 2,700kg to 2,900kg, with payloads ranging from 1,073kg to 1,310kg and load volumes going from 5.2m3 up to 8.6m3.

Power comes from a 1.6-litre dCi diesel engine, up for grabs with outputs of 95hp, 120hp, 125hp and 145hp, with the two former being single turbo and the latter pair twin turbo. The twin-turbos have stop/start engine tech. All engines are mated to a six-speed manual transmission and meet Euro6 emissions standards.

We drove a 125hp twin turbo L2H1 van, and found the engine delivers generous pulling power and was unperturbed by the half-load in the cargo bay. It’s quiet too, while road noise does not penetrate the interior to intrusive levels.

The cabin, meanwhile, has ample storage provision, and the dash-mounted gear lever is easy to reach, provides slick changes, and gets the best out of the engine.

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Vauxhall Vivaro

The Vivaro was developed alongside Renault’s Trafic, but it’s arguably not as pretty. It also has two trim levels to the Trafic’s three, and with the French brand’s switchgear evident across the interior, the cabin doesn’t have the car-like quality of a Transit Custom. Kit levels are pretty good, though.

All engines offer 1.6 litres, with 90hp and 110hp turbodiesels, as well as 120hp and 140hp bi-turbos that are more efficient but more expensive. The 90hp also has an Ecoflex version offering improved fuel economy.

The range covers two roof heights and two wheelbases. Of the low-roof models, the 120hp bi-turbo is most efficient at an official 47.9mpg. The bi-turbo engines are refined and punchy, and the 120hp version feels more powerful than it says on paper. Given its efficiency it’s very impressive and should certainly be the engine of choice.

Finally, the ride is comfortable without compromising body control, and only steering that’s a tad light compromises the package, although that turns into a plus in urban spaces.

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