Acting on the advice of leading authorities in the second-hand light commercial market, What Van? has annointed the current Vauxhall Vivaro’s immediate predecessor our used Van of the year for 2016.
It is not a decision that is hard to justify given that it is a model with few discernible vices that are more than outweighed by its virtues. Originally launched in 2001, a revised version introduced in 2006 with the choice of a 2.0-litre diesel generating either 90hp or 115hp or a 2.5-litre diesel pumping out 145hp. Popular among a number of leading fleets, there are plenty of the old-style Vivaros about; they are pretty reliable broadly speaking, assuming they have been looked after (insist on a full service history should you be thinking about buying one); and they
are supported by a large dealer network.
As a consequence, parts and service back-up will never be hard to come by. remember that the same model was marketed by renault as the Trafic and by nissan as the Primastar, so renault and nissan dealers may be able to help if you are stuck.
It is also worth noting that although the old Vivaro’s styling dates back to 2001, it hasn’t really dated. When it was first revealed, of course, it was dramatically different from anything else on the highway – critics said it would go out of fashion very quickly, but were proved wrong – and there is even a case for saying that the old model looks better than
its successor, itself our reigning Medium Van of the Year.
A six-speed manual gearbox was fitted as standard, with an automated manual transmission offered as an option under the Tecshift banner.
With a load cube extending from 5.0m3 to 8.4m3, the Vivaro is available in both short- and long-wheelbase versions and with either a standard or a high roof. Gross payload capacities ranged from just over a tonne to upwards of 1.2 tonnes with nominal gross weights of either 2.7 or 2.9 tonnes.
It was additionally produced as both a short- and a long- wheelbase double-cab van, as a minibus and as a dropside. Low-CO2 ecoflex models were sold too, later in the model’s life cycle.
Judges voting for the Vivaro pinpointed the value for money that the vehicle offers. There are plenty around, and the vehicle has proven to be a solid workhorse. One judge commented: “I have had to include old shape Vivaro – there are a huge number in the used market with a good specification, and it still looks good for its generation.”
So what should you look out for before purchasing?
First of all you should check that the engine’s cam belt has been changed on schedule. In most cases it should be swapped at five years or 72,000 miles, whichever is the sooner. If it
has not been replaced on time along with associated parts such as rollers, then it is likely to fail fairly promptly, and that could prove catastrophically expensive.
If the Vivaro you are looking at has covered upwards of 80,000 miles then find out if the alternator has been changed. If it hasn’t then it may be on the way out, also, causing damage to the drive belt and other parts of the engine.
Discover when the brake pads and discs were last swapped. Vivaros consume both greedily and they need replacing at every other service at least.
Also, make sure that the engine management lights come on with the ignition and go out a few seconds after you start up. If they do not then there is likely to be a problem in one of three areas: the wiring loom, the electronic engine control unit (ecu) or the camshaft sensor.
• This award comes as a result of the votes of experts from Anchor Vans, BCA, Cap, CD Auctions, Glass’s, Lex Autolease, KwikCarcost, Manheim, Shoreham Vehicle Auctions and What Van? Thank you to all involved for their input.
Did you know...?
When Vivaro was originally launched in 2001 a Vauxhall executive quipped that it looked just like the sort of van Batman might drive.
The Highly Commended pick is the previous generation Volkswagen Caddy.
Forget all the current controversy surrounding VW. Again assuming it has a full service history, the robust, well-put-together old-style Caddy is an appealing second-hand buy.
Launched in 2004 and mildly facelifted in 2010, the Caddy has a huge range of engine options, as well as the regular and Caddy Maxi long-wheelbase alternatives. The latter adds another 1.0m3 to the load area, taking it up to 4.2m3.
Power ranges from 75hp to 140hp and the range also includes the appealing Caddy Sportline model with enhanced styling and specification.