It’s a small, niche market, but Vauxhall has dipped into the all- wheel drive sector with a conversion of the Movano large van.
a second-stage conversion carried out in Germany by a firm called Oberaigner, the all-wheel drive Vauxhall is far from cheap at £10,000 on top of the regular rear- wheel drive Movano it’s based on. The conversion, which adds another 150kg of weight to the vehicle and raises the ride height by 65mm, can be based on 125hp or 150hp rear-wheel drive Movanos in panel van, crew cab, chassis cab or tipper configurations, and adds around six weeks to the delivery time.
The conversion is covered under warranty by the German firm for two years or 75,000 miles.
Operated via a box in the dash (pictured), the all-wheel drive system also features switchable gear ratios to help the ascent of slippery slopes. as a post-build conversion, it doesn’t kick in automatically on detecting loss of traction like most modern off-roaders or
VW’s 4motion system would, but manually switching it over disengages the traction control and eSC anti-skid control. It also invokes a beep every four seconds to remind the driver they are in all-wheel drive mode, an intensity that increases to every two seconds when the speed passes 30mph. To revert to rear- drive mode requires turning off the ignition to reset the system.
Vauxhall is targeting larger fleets that have a deal in place with it for vehicles, but have the need
for one or two more capable vans tasked with attacking less hospitable terrain. emergency services, utility companies, security firms and the Forestry Commission are all on the list of targets.
It’s tough from the driver’s seat to spot the difference between an all-wheel drive Movano and the regular vehicle. Only the big box on the dashboard that houses the switches for off-road mode give the game away; otherwise, it’s the same spacious cabin jammed full of stowage space. With 4x4 functionality engaged it’s certain to be more capable in slippery conditions, but it won’t transform the Movano into a Land rover Defender in terms of mud-plugging,so slippery and muddy tracks will be the most appropriate domain.
The quibble with this conversion is the big price tag. The Mercedes- benz Sprinter 4x4 is the only logical direct rival in this segment, and to get all-wheel drive on top of a standard van costs just over £5k, so the Vauxhall becomes more expensive than its premium-badged competitor. but there are no other capable large off-roaders, with the step down to the VW Transporter 4motion or across to a pick-up or 4x4 van such as the Mitsubishi Outlander being the other options.
It’s also worth noting that winter tyres greatly enhance performance in tricky conditions, and are much cheaper than the cost of opting for an all-wheel drive van such as this. but if the combination of proper off-road ability and a large van are needed then at least the Sprinter now has a rational alternative.
This Vauxhall Movano conversion will have its applications but it's a very expensive way of getting access to extreme locations.