The Vauxhall van plant at Luton made the headlines recently with the announcement that the new range of Vivaro medium vans will be built there – the first new products since Vauxhall was acquired by the giant PSA group of Citroen and Peugeot, which was excellent news for the Luton workforce, who may have feared the worst.

The Vivaro, of course, has a French flavour, having been based on the Renault Trafic, and the same can be said of the Movano, which is a Renault Master with a griffin on its grill.

Four different vehicle lengths are available that extend to more than 4m of load length and a highest load volume of 17m3 in the longest L4 version.

This generation also included rear-wheel drive variants, which gave the Movano a gross vehicle weight range of up to 4.5t, encompassing a payload of up to 2.5t. With a towing capacity of 3.0t, the 7.5t train weight makes for very efficient operation.

A new family of four-cylinder 2.3 CDTi common-rail diesel engines was introduced on this second-generation model and despite a lower engine capacity than the previous unit, they provided lower fuel consumption and emissions.

The engines are available with three power outputs: 100hp, 125hp and 146hp. At 3.5t the 100hp unit is a bit lacking, but it’s quite at home in the 2.8-tonner and revels in part-load duties. The 125hp version is the best all-rounder, feeling less turbo-dependent than the range-topping 146hp engine.

Once on song, however, the latter unit is impressively muscular.

The two higher-output versions are also available with the Techshift automatic transmission – which is particularly useful with the 146hp unit – making city traffic and hilly terrain less of a chore.

The 4.5t version is rear-wheel drive and features standard twin rear wheels, an option on the 3.5t front-drive van too. However, we can’t fathom what Vauxhall was thinking here, as either rear-biased loads or heavy trailer nose weights, where such an option may seem worthwhile, would make uncomfortable bedfellows for front-wheel drive. For heavy duties, go for a rear-wheel drive derivative.

There were quite a few faults on earlier Movanos of this series – from faulty spare wheel carriers to recalls for seat mount welds, rear axle mounts (on rear-drive versions) and jamming seatbelt inertia reels. On later models, these all seemed to be addressed, while engine and drivetrains are strong, and high mileages on motorway-dwelling vans is of no concern. On long-wheelbase twin-wheel models look out for kerb-rash and, as ever, a full dealer service history is a given.

Newer with more miles beats older with lesser miles on a Vauxhall Movano. Bear this in mind, and go for a big load volume and middle engine, and you have got the ideal model.

Yes please!

1) 146hp engine
2) LWB version
3) High roof
4) Sportive trim
5) Techshift auto box

No thanks!

1) 100hp engine
2) SWB version  
3) Standard roof
4) Twin rear-wheel option
5) Front drive with high payload


Second-hand buys





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2.3 CDTi L3 H2 3500





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2.3 CDTi L1 H2 2800