Built at the Piaggio factory near Pisa in Italy — famous for its scooters and the three-wheeled Ape — the Porter range is now imported into the UK by Perodua UK Ltd, who took over the franchise from Piaggio Ltd in May 2006. Daihatsu no longer imports the Hijet which was basically the same as the Porter and was also built by Piaggio. There is an impressive array of Porters available from the standard van, pick-up and MPV to the more niche market products like the Top Deck and Big Deck.
There’s even a SkyKing extended platform conversion available. Basically, an operator can start with one of the chassis cabs and stick just about anything on the back. A 1.3-litre 16v petrol engine with electronic Multipoint injection is the mainstay of the engine line-up, with a Euro 4 emissions-friendly diesel in development for future production. The 4x4 model offers a practical variation on the petrol range and there’s even an electric option; good news for operators plagued by the London Congestion Tax.
Apart from the engine choice and the increased legroom on the Piaggio Pick Up variants, Porter is identical to the old Hijet and benefits from all of its plus-points; dimensionally-challenged externally, two sliding doors, a low loading height on the van and a tight turning circle which can seriously challenge that of a London Black Cab. The payloads range from 560kg for the petrol van up to 685kg for the Big Deck pick up; Porter is no lightweight when it comes to work. The cab is not exactly spacious, as you would expect, and is pretty Spartan, but as the Porter is not a long distance vehicle in any of its forms, this shouldn’t present too much of a problem.
Not exactly the pinnacle of LCV technical development, but there’s an excellent choice of variations thanks to the availability of a chassis cab. Distribution is now handled by Perodua UK Ltd and more information is available by calling 01491 415230. Porter is best suited to urban environs.