Vauxhall Movano L2H2 FWD 3500 2.3 CDTI 100hp

Date: Monday, June 07, 2010

For years Vauxhall has been looking for a van that could be a convincing rival to models such as Mercedes-Benz’s Sprinter, Volkswagen’s Crafter and the heavier-duty end of Ford’s Transit range. Now it has got one in the shape of the new Movano.

 

A re-badged and re-grilled version of Renault’s new Master thanks to a long-standing joint-venture deal between General Motors, Vauxhall’s parent, and the French manufacturer, it’s streets ahead of its predecessor.

Up for grabs with either front- or rear-wheel drive like Transit, it boasts a new 2.3-litre CDTI diesel engine at 100hp, 125hp or 150hp and grosses at from 2.8 to 4.5 tonnes. Load space goes up to a cavernous 17.0m 3 .

Technical

We decided to get to grips with one of the more basic models in the line-up; a 100hp front-wheel drive (fwd) 3.5-tonner. Top power kicks in at 3,500rpm while maximum torque of 285Nm makes its presence felt across a 1,250rpm-to-2,000rpm plateau.

Fitted with a fixed-geometry turbocharger — you get a variable-geometry turbo if you go up to 150hp — plus an intercooler, the four-cylinder 16-valve common rail engine is married to a standard six-speed manual gearbox. With fwd it’s mounted transversely.

MacPherson-strut-type suspension is installed at the front along with an anti-roll bar while single-leaf steel suspension helps support the rear of this model. Our demonstrator’s 16in steel wheels were shod with Goodyear Cargo 225/65 R16C tyres.

Disc brakes — ventilated at the front — are fitted all round while safety is further taken care of by ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist. Yet while rear-wheel drive Movanos feature Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) as standard, their fwd stablemates do not, although it is listed as an extra-cost option. We can only view that as disappointing and would urge Vauxhall to make ESP standard on all models.

Hydraulically-assisted rack-and-pinion power steering is installed across the range.

Our test vehicle could handle a gross payload of 1,610kg and haul a braked trailer grossing at 2,500kg.

Load Area

One of fwd’s big advantages is the low rear loading height it can offer; a modest 562mm in our case. That made for easy entry into the vehicle’s 10.8m 3 cargo area via the twin back doors. Our doors were glazed and could be swung through 270° in a package that costs £375; all prices quoted here exclude VAT.

Fitted with bump stops that look rather like little blunt horns, the doors could be magnetically latched against the van’s sides.

The back windows weren’t heated and didn’t have a wash/wipe system either. On security grounds we’d always recommend opaque rear doors with reversing sensors or maybe a rear view camera if you’re worried about accidents occurring while backing up.

A sliding nearside door is standard but our van had an offside sliding door too for an extra £300.

Maximum load length is 3,083mm. Maximum width is 1,765mm narrowing to 1,380mm between the wheel boxes while maximum height is 1,887mm. Loading and unloading are made easier by the good-sized door apertures. The rear aperture is 1,820mm high and 1,580mm wide. Side aperture dimensions are 1,780mm and 1,270mm respectively.

Six floor-mounted cargo tie-down points are provided plus one just ahead of each wheel box and one at the base of each of the rear door pillars. A shelf above the cab accessible solely from the cargo area makes for a handy place to stow load restraint straps while a standard full-height steel bulkhead with a £25 window in it ensures that items that haven’t been lashed down don’t slither forwards and join you in the cab. The cargo bay’s sides and doors are partially clad with protective panelling.

Cab Comfort

There’s ample storage in the roomy, well-thought-out three-seater cab and ours had more than most because it boasted what Vauxhall describes as an Office Pack for an additional £465.

For your money you get a middle seat with a centre section to its back that folds down and turns into a desk that can be swivelled towards the driver. That’s in addition to a facia-mounted retractable clip that can be used to hold paperwork and a lidded compartment on the dashboard that will accommodate an A4 clipboard.

On top of that you get more pockets for doors that are already well-provided with capacious bins — the bottom bin is huge — not to mention door-mounted kerb lights. Your pack also gives you Bluetooth connectivity.

All Movano vans come with shelves above the windscreen on both the driver and passenger side divided by a slot that can accommodate a tachograph should one need to be installed.

Two shelves protrude from the middle of the dashboard — stealing legroom from the centre passenger — with the upper one featuring a pair of cup-holders while all sorts of bits and pieces can be stuffed into the vast glovebox.

You’ll find a shelf behind the instrument binnacle, a cubby hole at either extremity of the dashboard as well as a cup-holder; we could go on. Suffice it to say that you’ll run out of items that need to be stashed long before you run out of storage space.

The controls for the heating and ventilation system are nice and chunky and our Movano boasted air-conditioning. It adds a further £600 to your final invoice, but chocolate addicts will be delighted to learn that it will keep any goodies you’ve popped into your glovebox nice and cool when the weather gets hot.

Sat nav, if that’s what you’ve opted for, and radio station information are both displayed on a swivelling overhead screen. Initially the arrangement is mildly irritating because you keep glancing down at the dashboard to look at the display rather than upwards, but you soon get used to it.

We had the use of cruise control (£200) plus a multi-function trip computer (£250), as well as a 12v power point. The driver’s seat and the steering wheel are both height-adjustable — a driver’s airbag is fitted too — and most people will find that there’s more than sufficient head and shoulder room.

On the road

With dependable handling and no lack of feedback through the steering wheel, the latest Movano can be hustled through bends without too many dramas. Our demonstrator boasted a slick gearchange which aided driving enjoyment plus low in-cab noise levels aside from some vibration at idle.

While 100hp is sufficient if all you’re faced with is stop-start city centre delivery work, you’ll need to step up to 125hp if you regularly tackle longer runs; especially if you do so heavily-laden.

No matter what sort of work you’re on you will of course have to deal with Britain’s scarred and pot-holed road surfaces, and there were times when Movano’s suspension found it difficult to cope with the challenge. The van’s ride isn’t always as compliant as it should be. Big exterior mirrors with a separate, lower, wide-angle section make life a lot easier, especially on the motorway.

Fuel economy during the test period averaged out at 33mpg. CO2 emissions are quoted as 211g/km.

Finished in a, rather fetching, metallic grey (£395) in the case of our vehicle, the body is protected from minor damage by deep side rubbing strips. However the corners of the rear lights look vulnerable to being bashed.

Remote central locking with deadlocks is standard.

No spare wheel is provided and you are blessed with a sealer/inflator instead. While we recognise that such an arrangement saves weight, it’s not one we favour because a sealer/inflator is useless if a tyre is severely damaged.

With service intervals set at 25,000 miles, Vauxhall’s latest light commercial offering shouldn’t have to make too many visits to the workshop. It’s protected by a three-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Verdict

No question about it, Movano represents a major step forward for Vauxhall’s light commercial range. It looks good, handles well, comes with a roomy, well-equipped cab and is properly screwed together. Opt for the more powerful models and you won’t complain about a lack of performance, and even the least-powerful derivative in the line-up is fine on stop-start city centre work. The ride isn’t always as compliant as it should be on Britain’s at-times-less-than-smooth road surfaces and while the quality of gearchange on our demonstrator was absolutely fine, having driven other Movanos we’re aware that it can vary from vehicle to vehicle. We’re also a little disappointed that Vauxhall has not seen fit to equip all models with Electronic Stability Programme. Overall though, we’re impressed; and we think you will be too.

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