If someone offered me a brand new, fully fledged panel van for ten grand, my first thoughts would be that it might be stolen.
But such an animal is available in the UK, and it isn’t one of those half-baked things we see sometimes from Third World countries.
The van in question – and the vehicle on test here – is none other than the Citroen Relay 900, which hails from the Sevel factory in Italy.
So just how does Citroen manage to offer so much metal for so little cash?
Part of the reason is its seemingly endless series of cashback offers.
Our test van has a list price of £12,500 ex-VAT, but the total comes down to £10,000 with the current £2,500 cashback deal.
This Relay isn’t exactly bristling with standard creature comforts. Airbags and ABS brakes don’t even appear on the options list, for example. CD player? Not a hope. Central locking? Don’t make me laugh. But, hey – what do you expect for this price?
What you do get is a 2,490kg gross vehicle weight van with a load capacity of 7.5 cubic metres, payload of 735kg and a nice silky smooth 2.0-litre common rail diesel engine offering 86bhp at 4,000rpm and 142lb-ft of torque at 1,900rpm.
Standard equipment includes a dual passenger seat, side sliding door, power steering, engine immobiliser and a radio/cassette player.
Curiously enough our test model also had electric windows which, according to the spec sheets, you can’t get without a CD player as well.
The only options on the official list are metallic paint at £300 and a CD player/electric windows at £310.
As you’d imagine for the price, this Relay is the smallest one in the range, with a short wheelbase and low roof.
For those who need larger dimensions, the Relay can be specified right up to 3.5-tonnes gross vehicle weight, with medium and long wheelbases, offering up to 12 cubic metres of space and payloads up to 1,635kg.
There are also more powerful 2.2-litre and 2.8-litre engines on offer with up to 127bhp.
Prices go up accordingly and reach £19,830 (before the cashback deals).
Behind the wheel
Normally, our test vehicles come specced up to the rafters with all the paid-for options available so it would be natural to assume that I’ve been driving around for the past few weeks like Victor Meldrew.
Well, that’s where you’d be wrong. In fact I’m rather taken with this cheeky little contender.
It really brought things into perspective the other day when I drove a Volkswagen Golf which weighed in at nearly £20,000 – it suddenly hit me that I could buy two Relays for that price.
However, this van can be annoying.
You don’t realise just how much you rely on central plip locking until you drive a vehicle without it.
I’m constantly having to walk around the van to unlock the passenger door and on several occasions I’ve left the key in the ignition and walked to the back to unload something, only to find the rear doors locked.
However, once aboard, the cab is an amazingly pleasant and comfortable place to be for a van of this price.