A warm welcome to Vans of the Year 2008; What Van?’s eagerly-awaited verdict on the vast array of light commercials on sale in the UK today.
Each year we sort the best from the rest and determine the winners in each of the 12 categories in the following pages. We then select the number one model overall; the What Van? Van of the Year for 2008.
Every year the task becomes more difficult. Modern vans achieve standards that would barely have been dreamt of two decades ago. Exhaust emissions are lower thanks to tighter legislation and the colossal sums of money invested by manufacturers, and safety levels have soared thanks to the widespread use of ABS, Electronic Stability Programme and airbags.
Things still aren’t perfect. Some products definitely require further improvement and all the extra features fitted to vans have resulted in a widespread reduction in payload capacity; but the industry is without doubt getting there.
The verdicts represent the distilled experience of What Van?’s long-serving editorial staff. At one time or another we’ve driven and exhaustively assessed every light commercial sold in Britain. We’ve taken into account performance, ride, handling, noise, vibration, harshness, fuel economy, load cube, weight-shifting capability, equipment and value for money.
Manufacturers whose products have not won the top prize in each category may find that they’ve waltzed off with our much-coveted Highly Commended accolade instead. And if they haven’t been awarded a trophy this year, then they needn’t feel too disheartened. As we indicated earlier, the gap between the winners and those who have just missed out gets narrower and narrower as the years roll by.
Light commercial producers are under massive economic pressure worldwide as sales fall, factories slash output and workers are laid off. Let’s hope that 2009 won’t be as grim as the pundits are predicting and that vital research and development budgets won’t be cut as companies scrabble to save cash. The motor industry needs to keep improving its light commercials as customer expectations continue to rise and legislation gets tougher. In the meantime, congratulations to all the winners and keep up the good, and much-appreciated, work.
Highly Commended: Peugeot 207
Highly Commended: Volkswagen Caddy
Highly Commended: Ford Transit
Highly Commended: Mercedes Sprinter
Highly Commended: Toyota Hilux
Highly Commended: SsangYong Kyron
Highly Commended: Citroën Relay
Highly Commended: Ford