Vauxhall — May 2008

Date: Monday, May 05, 2008

Vauxhall has pulled the wraps off three classy looking vehicles under the Black Edition banner that may, or may not, make it into production. As the name suggests, they're all finished in metallic black paint.

Based on the 90hp Sportive 1.3 CDTi, the Corsavan Black Edition boasts 17in Sports Star alloy wheels, part-leather Recaro sports seats, front, side and rear spoilers and a black-and-white chequered livery over the bonnet, roof and tailgate. Anybody old enough to remember the Two Tone record label will just love it.

Go for the Astravan Black Edition and you get a similar chequered livery, this time on a Sportive SE 1.9 CDTi with 150hp under the bonnet. Leather Recaro seats, 18in Sports Star alloys, a twin pipe rear exhaust and a sports steering wheel are all included in the deal.

That livery turns up once again on the Vivaro Double Cab Black Edition. It comes with a unique front bumper, stainless steel front fog light surrounds, side and rear spoilers, 17in alloys, twin split-pipe rear exhausts and a full leather interior.

Will Vauxhall put them on sale? As we indicated earlier, there are no guarantees; but the runaway success of its attractive-looking and well-equipped Sportive derivatives suggests that it just might and we hope it does.

Even if it doesn't, you can set about creating your own Black Edition, or something very like it, by talking to your Vauxhall dealer about the specifications of the van you want to buy and ordering up the appropriate parts.

Movano Luton

Something that's definitely going on sale is a rather more prosaic addition to the manufacturer's core conversion line-up; a Luton-bodied Movano.

Produced with a 2.5-litre CDTi diesel at 100hp, 120hp or 146hp and using the long-wheelbase chassis cab, the newcomer can handle a 1,358kg payload and offers 17.2m3 of cargo space.

Employing anodised aluminium extrusions and produced by Aluvan of Bruges, Belgium, the body gets an integrated rear frame capable of accepting a tail-lift. It also comes with an alloy roller shutter door, a pine internal kickboard and a row of five horizontal internal lashing rails.

Features on the vehicle include reinforced rear suspension, a driver's airbag, a radio/CD player and remote central locking for the cab. As a core conversion, the entire package is protected by Vauxhall's three year/100,000 mile warranty.

Prices, excluding VAT, are £23,135 (100hp), £24,335 (120hp) and £25,535 (146hp). A Ratcliff tail-lift can be specified as a £2,750 option.

Speed Awareness

When you get behind the wheel of your Movano Luton, will you be aware of the speed limits it's subject to? The results of a recent survey carried out on Vauxhall's behalf reveals widespread ignorance of the limits that govern the use of light commercials.

Of those surveyed an astonishing — and rather worrying — 85 per cent reckoned that vans of all sizes were subject to the speed limits that apply to cars and small car-derived vans. The reality is that while light commercials with a gross weight of less than 2,000kg are governed by car speed limits, larger goods vehicles not exceeding 7.5 tonnes, but over 2,000kg, are subject to lower limits on single and dual carriageways.

All goods vehicles grossing at less than 7.5 tonnes do, however, share a maximum speed limit of 70mph on motorways.

Light commercials grossing at less than 2,000kg must not exceed 60mph on single carriageway roads, rising to 70mph on dual carriageways, unless other limits are in place. Heavier vehicles not exceeding 7.5 tonnes are constrained to 50mph and 60mph respectively, unless other limits are displayed.

Our advice is to check the gross weights of all your vehicles and stick a notice on the dashboard reminding drivers of the limits that apply.

Service Plans

No matter whether they're travelling at high speeds or not, it's essential that operators have their vans maintained regularly. That's why Vauxhall has launched a new service and maintenance plan for owners of new Vauxhall light commercials bought from its dealers.

As well as funding routine servicing the programme covers any parts and labour costs incurred during the repair or replacement of wear and tear items such as the brakes, tyres and exhaust system. Dampers, steering joints, the clutch and the wiper blades are covered too. Accidental or malicious damage is not included, however.

You'll pay £29.99 a month if you run a Corsavan, a Combo or an Astravan, and £31.99 if you run a Vivaro or a Movano. Both charges include VAT.

Dealers will of course have to generate more revenue out of their aftersales activities if new light commercial registrations start to slide. So far, however, there's no indication that this is happening says Vauxhall commercial vehicle sales manager, Richard Collier.

“There's no evidence that the credit crunch is having an impact on demand,” he contends. “The van market is still very buoyant and this year we reckon that in total it will be no more than 7,000 to 8,000 sales below 2007's level.”

Last year was a record year for Vauxhall with over 53,000 sales, once again making it the country's second best selling light commercial brand after Ford. Some 30,000 of those vehicles were produced in Britain.

GM, Vauxhall's parent, is now the biggest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the UK, building over 100,000 annually. It makes Astravans at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and low roof versions of Vivaro in Luton.

Greenery

Vivaros and Movanos running on a 30 per cent biodiesel mix called B30 sourced from Harvest Energy are currently on trial with BSkyB, one of Vauxhall's major light commercial fleet customers. Vauxhall also has Combos and Astravans available that will run on liquefied petroleum gas.

Although it is required to test its light commercials for CO2 emissions, it has decided not to publish the results, says Collier. That's because it does not believe that the testing regime it is required to follow gives valid readings for light commercials.

CO2 emissions can be very different according to whether or not a van is heavily laden, he points out. Designed with cars in mind, the test fails to take this into account, he states; and he's undoubtedly right.

On the Road
Corsavan Sportive

A quick blast around the Northamptonshire countryside in a 90hp 1.3CDTi Vauxhall Corsavan Sportive revealed that it offers ample performance, a slick gearchange courtesy of its six-speed manual 'box and a more competent ride than we expected. Boasting a surprisingly roomy cab for a van of its size, it looks the business both externally and internally.

Once again, however, we had to deal with over-assisted power steering — it does the van's otherwise sharp handling no favours at all — and a fair amount of wind and road noise, including a really irritating rattle, from the rear.

Combo Easytronic

After that we decided to have a crack at the Combo Easytronic with its user-friendly automated manual gearbox.

You can use it either as a conventional automatic or in manual guise, and switching from one mode to the other and back again is a doddle. Changing gear manually is a drama-free activity too, although like all 'boxes of this type Easytronic does not like to be rushed.

Seems a pity that Easytronic is only fitted to 1 to 2 per cent of Combos sold in the UK.

While we'd no quarrels with Combo's ride or handling, the entire vehicle is now starting to feel woefully dated when compared with, for example, Volkswagen's Caddy. With new offerings from Citroën, Peugeot and Renault in the pipeline, Vauxhall's ageing load-lugger looks set to come under growing pressure in the marketplace.

     VERDICT
     Vauxhall continues down the special edition route, as well as expanding its off-the-peg range of conversions, and we're sure there will be interest among owner/operators.



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