Vauxhall Vivaro Test Drive Review
07 August 2014
BusinessCar reviews the new Vauxhall Vivaro
Arriving on UK roads in September, Vauxhall's new Vivaro has been designed to have 'a lot more presence and modernity' than
the outgoing model.
It comes with a bold new front end and cleaner BiTurbo engines that set new levels of efficiency in the medium van segment.
There's a four-unit engine line-up. While the outgoing van had a choice of 2.0-litre 90hp or 115hp diesels, all the new engines are 1.6-litres, with regular 90hp and 110hp turbo diesels, as well as the 120hp and 140hp BiTurbo units, which while more efficient, are also more expensive than the less-powerful siblings. Downsizing the engine capacity means the two lower-powered engines are cleaner than their predecessors, with an official figure of 43.5mpg being a 2.6mpg improvement.
The step up from 90hp to 115hp is £600, with the lower-powered BiTurbo, likely to be the most popular, an additional £400 on top. The range-topping 140hp BiTurbo is another £800. The 90hp diesel also has an Ecoflex version for an extra £195 that adds stop-start, improving economy by 2.8mpg.
The new range covers two roof heights and two wheelbases, with the L1H1 and L2H1 models arriving in September, and the high-roof L1H2 and L2H2 following in January. Double cab, Combi and platform cab derivatives will also be offered.
Looking at the low-roof models, the 120hp BiTurbo engine is the most efficient of the line-up, with an official economy figure of 47.9mpg, which only VW's Transporter Bluemotion can currently beat in the UK medium van marketplace.
Both non-BiTurbo diesels are 4.4mpg worse off, so the £400 price saving for the 115hp diesel over the 120hp BiTurbo will find itself swallowed up by high-mileage drivers.
An Eco button, standard on all models, improves efficiency, and there's also the orange/amber/green drive indicator bar in the instrument cluster that flags up how efficiently the vehicle
is being driven.
There are two trim levels and a range of extra kit is added over the outgoing model. All Vivaros now get, for example, ESP anti-skid control, DAB radio, and a 12-volt socket in the load area.
Interior quality is improved, although it's still a very dark plastic-dominated arena. A couple more smaller storage spaces would be useful, but the door bins are a reasonable size, and there's a large space on the top of the dash for dropping clipboards into. The central third seat is, however, narrow and the gear lever compromises legroom.
The new BiTurbo engines are refined and punchy, and the 120hp version driven here feels more powerful than it says on paper, and given the almost class-leading efficiency it's very impressive. It should certainly be the engine of choice. While the 140hp is more potent still, there's a pretty big price gap of £800 to consider when the 120hp alternative is so good.
The ride is comfortable without compromising body control, and only steering that's a little on the light side compromises the package, but that turns into a benefit when manoeuvring in urban spaces. All in all, it's a big step on from the old one, and snapping at the heels of the Ford Transit Custom.
The new model is longer than its predecessor, offering an additional 122mm of load length in short- and long-wheelbase form. Payload does, however, drop, coming down by 21kg on the 2.7-tonne model, 14kg on the 2.9-tonne L1, and by 41kg on the longer wheelbase model.
The new Vivaro impresses in many ways. If Vauxhall is as serious about doubling European LCV volumes in the next eight years as it claims to be, then this is a decent start.