British CV Show — May 2007

Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ford stole a march on its van market rivals at this year's British Commercial Vehicle Show with a rear-wheel drive Transit pumping out no less than 200 bhp.

 

All that wallop comes from a 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel generating a whopping 346 lb/ft of peak torque. It's married to an uprated six-speed manual gearbox.

The new engine wasn't the only cause of excitement on the Big Blue Oval's stand as Ford pulled the wraps off its limited edition Transit SportVan. Publicised by German TV presenter and racing driver, Sabine Schmitz — we'd rather look at her than look at Clarkson any day of the week — it features 18in alloy wheels shod with low-profile tyres, twin exhaust pipes, front and rear spoilers, side skirts, distinctive blue paintwork and wide white bonnet stripes.

Only 500 will be produced, all based on the short-wheelbase, 260 front-wheel drive van powered by a 130 bhp TDCi Duratorq diesel.

Transit SportVan's arrival is of course no news to the readers of What Van?. Details and pictures of Ford's new and very attractive baby appeared exclusively in our May issue.

Transit 4.6-tonner

Moving up the weight scale, Transit is now on offer as a 4.6-tonner, up from a previous maximum of 4.25 tonnes. Like the 3.2-litre engine, it goes on sale in the autumn.

Both axles have been strengthened to cope with bigger weights, with capacities of 1,850kg at the front, and 3,300kg at the back. The beefiest of Transits gets larger rear brake callipers, a heavy duty handbrake lever, upgraded rear springs, revised front and rear damper settings, and new front dampers for the chassis cab version.

Transit is also being offered with an optional exhaust particulate trap and 108-litre fuel tank.

The show saw 4x4 Transit appear at a UK venue for the first time. Changes were announced to Ranger too as Ford unveiled a special edition of the 4x4 double-cab pick-up variant under the Wildtrak banner.

Ranger Wildtrak

Due to go on sale in August/September, it gets a 156 bhp 3.0-litre TDCi diesel with a more-than-useful 280 lb/ft of torque on tap. For your money you get a two-tone paint finish and a long list of goodies, including alloy wheels, side steps, tail light protectors, a rear protection bar with parking sensors and heated seats partially trimmed in leather.

Mated to an automatic gearbox — another first for Ranger — the 3.0-litre will be up for grabs in the Ranger Thunder double-cab too later in the year.

As if all this weren't enough, Ford was busy publicising a concept short-wheelbase Connect SportVan. Again we're talking 18in alloys, a distinctive blue paint scheme and white stripes on the bonnet, not to mention a body-coloured roof spoiler and bumpers, side skirts and a host of other features to make the vehicle stand out from the pack.

Land Rover

Look under the new Defender's modified bonnet and you'll find a 122 bhp 2.4-litre diesel sourced from Transit. Land Rover is of course owned by Ford and the Solihull company was displaying its latest offering.

Peugeot

Ford didn't have the exhibition all to itself. Back at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre after far too long an absence, Peugeot chose the show for the worldwide debut of its 207 Van.

The latest addition to the manufacturer's light commercial line-up, it's on offer with a choice of three engines; a 70 bhp 1.4-litre HDi diesel, a 90 bhp 1.6-litre HDi diesel and a 75 bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit. It's got a 1.1m3 load area and a 450kg payload capacity.

Peugeot was also launching the Expert Tepee-based E7 Taxi. Covering a wider area of the market than its predecessor, the latest Expert is a newcomer to the UK market, and Citroën and Fiat were exhibiting their versions of the model — Dispatch and Scudo — too.

Citroën

Apart from bringing a smile to the faces of the gathered throng with the Ready, Willing & Able dancing surf nymphettes, Citroën was extolling the virtues of its new Ready to Run range of off-the-peg conversions, but more on those in the next issue.

We also spotted a Berlingo B30, which is able to survive on a diet of 30 per cent biodiesel without any alterations to the engine.

Fiat

Fiat put on an impressive display of conversions based on the latest version of Ducato and one which particularly caught our eye was the Flexiloader. The whole load floor can be lowered to ground level making it very easy to roll items aboard. Motorcycle dealerships have shown particular interest.

LDV

Now owned by Russian manufacturer GAZ, a revived LDV used the NEC to introduce its long-awaited Maxus chassis cab bodied as both a tipper and a dropside — Luton and box bodies will appear by the end of the year — plus 105 bhp and 135 bhp versions of its VM-built 2.5-litre diesel.

The latter is available on everything — and comes with ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution — while the former is fitted solely to Maxus minibus. In that guise it replaces the 95 bhp 2.5-litre, which is still installed in other Maxus models. The 120 bhp engine is on offer across the LDV line-up too.

LDV displayed a 17-seater Maxus minibus — it was its official launch — plus six- and nine-seaters that can be used to transport a small gang of workers plus their tools. National Car Rental is taking 200 Maxus 15-seaters, as well as 560 vans this year.

These days we're all supposed to be trying to reduce our carbon footprint, so it came as no surprise to see manufacturers of exhaust-fume-free electric vans out in force; and we're not just talking about Coventry-based Modec.

Smith Electric

Another British business — Smith Electric Vehicles — unveiled an electric Transit called the Edison.

Employing sodium nickel chloride batteries it has a top speed of 50mph and a range of up to 150 miles on one battery charge, says the company. Top payload is 1.5 tonnes.

Supermarket giant Sainsbury's is putting an initial eight into service in its Online home shopping fleet. Other firms aiming to operate Edisons include TNT Express and Scottish and Southern Energy.

Hino

One of the big surprises at Birmingham was Hino's launch of a 7.5-tonner to rival models such as Mitsubishi Fuso's Canter.

Fitted with a 4.0-litre 150 bhp diesel employing EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) to meet Euro 4 exhaust emission standards and married to a six-speed gearbox, the 300 Series is also produced as a 5.5- and 6.5-tonner. Disc brakes are fitted all round.

Hinos are distributed in the UK and Ireland by Dublin-based J Harris Assemblers. Harris puts them together too and has done so for many years, although Hino itself is part of Toyota.

Hino has a 16-strong UK dealer network, with representation in major cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow.


7.5-tonners

Still at 7.5 tonnes, Daf's LF45 is now on offer with an in-house designed factory-built and fitted box or curtainsider body. The truck maker was also exhibiting a diesel electric hybrid LF45.

Not to be outdone, Mitsubishi Fuso was showing off a Canter 4x4 7.5-tonner. It's all yours if you've got a spare £39,000.

Mitsubishi

Pick-up and four-wheel drive van specialists Mitsubishi was busy pushing the L200 range, including a rather attractive tipper conversion, as well as the recently revised three-door Shogun Commercial and the all-new five door Outlander Commercial.

Vauxhall

The big news on the Vauxhall stand was the new Corsavan.

Up for grabs with just one trim level, it will carry more weight than its predecessor — 550kg as compared to a previous 465kg. Power is provided by either a 75 bhp 1.3-litre CDTi diesel or an 80 bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine.

Also on display were new Sportive versions of both Corsavan and Astravan and Vauxhall also introduced versions of Vivaro and Movano that will run on a 30 per cent biodiesel mix called B30. The vehicles are going on trial with a major fleet customer.

Mercedes-Benz

Pursuing a clean, green theme, Mercedes-Benz was displaying a Sprinter capable of running on compressed natural gas. Other light commercial novelties included a Vito Sport dripping with goodies and a Sprinter showcasing all sorts of safety features.

Toyota

Toyota was showing off the revised version of Dyna powered by a 108 bhp 3.0-litre D-4D diesel, but the stand was dominated by a concept Hilux 4x4 double-cab pick-up. Equipped with a 3.0-litre D-4D diesel breathed on by Toyota Motorsport to generate around 200 bhp, it sits on 22in alloys and features Toyota F1 graphics.

It won't be going into production, alas, but the power boost and one or two other features — the load area hardtop for instance — might be made available to real-world customers.

Isuzu

Wildtrak and Hilux Sport Concept weren't the only 4x4 pick-ups on show. Customers who visited Isuzu (UK)'s stand got what was for many of them their first chance to get a closer look at the latest Rodeo double-cab with its 136 bhp 2.5-litre diesel.

Nissan

As well as the latest Cabstar — now available from Tipmaster as a tipper — and the rest of its light commercial range, Nissan was displaying a 4x4 Navara pick-up with a top made by SVP with gull-wing side access doors. It's designed with the needs of the utilities and the emergency services in mind.

Renault Trucks

Anybody who visited the Renault Trucks stand might have been forgiven for thinking that the new Maxity looked somehow familiar. That's because it's a slightly restyled and rebadged version of Nissan's Cabstar thanks to yet another joint venture agreement.

It was joined by a new version of the 3.5 to 6.5 tonne Mascott. It boasts a new generation diesel producing either 130 bhp or 150 bhp married to a new six-speed gearbox, a new drive axle, front axle and braking system, plus assorted in-cab changes.

Iveco

Iveco was displaying a couple of new Daily specifications. EXE includes electric windows and mirrors, an adjustable lumbar support for the driver's seat, a shelf above the windscreen and an ice warning alert on the dashboard.

Opt for EXE Climate and you get all the EXE features plus climate control.

Volkswagen

Over at the Volkswagen stand visitors were giving a prototype Transporter Sportline Kombi the once-over. Inspired by the success of the Sportline van, it's a passenger-carrying model based on the T30 window van with a 1,000kg-plus payload and equipped with a 174 bhp 2.5-litre diesel.

VW was also eagerly promoting the advantages of its new line-up of ready-to-go-to-work bodied Crafter chassis cabs, with tippers and dropsides included in the line-up.

Going back to Transporter for a moment, Lloyds TSB Autolease was exhibiting a Sportline van equipped with roof racking and a load area storage system made from lightweight, but strong, durable and corrosion-free carbon fibre.

Using carbon fibre instead of steel fixtures and fitting helps save weight, and means the vehicle can carry more. It also lowers Transporter's unladen weight and that should result in a fall in fuel consumption.

The finance company was also displaying a Ranger 4x4 using the same SVP hardtop as Navara.

Renault

Renault was showing its revamped Clio Campus Van for the first time on this side of the Channel.

Employing a 68 bhp 1.5-litre dCi diesel it's distinguished by re-sculpted bumpers plus a new tailgate. It comes with a 0.95m3 cargo area and top payload capacity is 535kg.

Also present was a concept Trafic Generation people-carrier — it could go on sale later this year — a Kangoo Van Venture special edition with air conditioning, metallic paint and a free TomTom One portable sat nav — if ordered by 30 June and registered by 30 September — and a refrigerated Trafic.

Built to chilled specification in conjunction with Lamberet, it's been put together to gauge customer reaction. If the response is positive, it's likely to go on sale.

Also being promoted were B30 biodiesel compatible Trafics and Masters.


TVAC was displaying a single- or tandem-axle ultra-low-floor chassis for use in conjunction with Fiat Ducato/Peugeot Boxer/Citroën Relay cabs and running gear while Fiat itself was displaying a Ducato conversion sourced from Snoeks with three rear seats, a bulkhead and a separate load area at the back.

Also on the Fiat stand was a nicely-executed 14-seater Ducato minibus conversion by Mussa and Graziano of Italy.

One of the smallest light commercials on display was Piaggio's Porter, in 4x4 guise. Good to see importer Perodua UK making such extensive use of stickers promoting the fact that it won last year's What Van? Microvan of the Year award.

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