As three of the most refined, practical and capable vans in their sector, the Mercedes-Benz Citan, Nissan Townstar and Renault Kangoo won the Compact Van of the Year prize for 2024 and the plug-in versions of the models have also scooped the Electric Van of the Year Award.

The jointly engineered vans are produced on the Renault Kangoo E-Tech platform and feature a 121hp electric motor and a 45kWh battery allowing a range of up to 186 miles, under WLTP testing. A full recharge can be completed with a 7.4kW wallbox in less than seven hours, and DC rapid charging at up to 75kW allows an 80% charge in 43 minutes. They offer a 4.2m3 load volume (long-wheelbase version), up to 615kg payload and a 1,500kg towing capacity.

The Kangoo E-Tech, the first of the trio to come to market, comes in panel van or crew van bodystyles.

Two trim levels are on offer – Start and Advance. Start models come with standard equipment including automatic headlights and wipers, a 3.5in TFT driver display, DAB radio with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, electric front windows, air conditioning, heated and electrically-adjustable door mirrors, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, hill start assist and cruise control with speed limiter. In addition, Kangoo E-Tech Start models come with automatic air conditioning, a heated front windscreen, heated seats, and the Z.E. Voice pedestrian warning tone.

Further equipment with Advance trim includes an 8in touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, an electric parking brake, reverse parking sensors, chrome gear stick inserts, yellow-accented upholstery, body-coloured door rails and a wide view mirror.

Prices excluding VAT and including the government’s plug-in van grant range from £31,350–33,850.

The Townstar replaced Nissan’s previous compact vans the E-NV200 and NV200, which were not based on the Kangoo, in December 2022. Prices for an electric Townstar, excluding VAT and the plug-in van grant start at £29,945 for a short-wheelbase Visia and rise to £35,845 for a long-wheelbase Tekna+. There is a choice of four trim levels, Visia, Acenta, Tekna and Tekna+.

Order books for the Mercedes eCitan opened in September 2023. Bodystyle options include L1 and L2 panel vans and a crew van, while there is a choice of Progressive and Premium trim levels. Standard equipment with Progressive spec includes active brake assist with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, and MBUX sat-nav with extended services. Further features with Premium trim include 16in alloy wheels, colour-coded bumpers, LED headlights, LED fog lights and metallic paint. 

Prices, excluding VAT and including the UK plug-in van grant, start at £33,995 for Progressive spec and £35,970 for Premium. Mercedes is also offering £1,000 towards home or workplace charger installation for retail and SME customers.

As befitting electric vans, all three of these models are quick off the mark. The single-speed auto-transmission lever offers the driver a simple choice of ‘P’ for park, ‘R’ for reverse, ‘D’ for drive and there are three modes of regenerative braking. But even the most extreme mode is not too severe and does not allow for one pedal driving as you still have to relay on the brakes to come to a halt.

Precise steering, light in traffic and tightening up as you gather speed each contribute to the impressive performance and handling of the trio, while refinement and ride quality are of a high standard too. The silent powertrain means the only noise entering the well-upholstered cabins comes from the wheels on the road and wind at higher speeds.

Highly Commended: Volkswagen ID. Buzz Cargo

Electric Van Highly Commended class=

The ID. Buzz Cargo remains the most futuristic electric van on the market – although its styling recalls the legendary Transporter T1 from 70 years ago. The model comes with a 204hp electric motor and a 77kWh battery, allowing a range of up to 256 miles. The load bay can accommodate two Euro pallets loaded sideways, with a total volume of up to 3.9m3. Trailer loads of up to 1,000kg can be towed. Two trim levels offered: Commerce and Commerce Plus. Standard equipment with Commerce spec includes LED headlights, a heated driver’s seat, front and rear parking sensors, a 10in infotainment touchscreen, wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity and multiple USB-C ports. Further equipment with Commerce Plus spec includes adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, park assist plus with memory function, a reversing camera, a heated windscreen, Satnav, and driver assistance systems including travel assist, lane assist, side assist, and emergency assist.