Vauxhall’s latest sales strategy involves a dramatic increase in the number of off-the-shelf conversions being made available to fleet buyers.
We have already seen the launch of the Combo crewvan this year and the first examples of the macho Movano 4x4 are starting to arrive in the UK as the manufacturer aims to fill as many niches in the market as possible.
While this vehicle isn’t expected to sell in large numbers, certain fleets such as utilities, emergency services, builders and foresters will find it useful as it is one of the few large vans on the market which will cut it in the rough.
It joins the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Volkswagen Crafter, Iveco Daily and Ford Transit in offering four-wheel drive options.
The off-road system is made by German specialist Oberaigner and the Movanos will be converted at the factory at Laage in Germany. Models will be made to order, which will mean a lead time of six to eight weeks, and the system will be available on all rear-wheel drive Movanos, including chassis-cabs. Prices will be around £2,000 more than standard models.
The Movano 4x4 is powered by the strongest engine in the range – a 2.3-litre common rail turbodiesel offering 150bhp and 258lb-ft of torque.
The official combined fuel economy figure is 30.1mpg.
Four-wheel drive high and low ratios are selected by a push button on the dashboard and four-wheel drive high can be selected at speeds up to 15mph. The vehicle sits 65mm higher than regular models and features twin rear wheels.
Electronic stability control (this is switched off automatically in four-wheel drive mode) is standard across the range, while a driver airbag, ABS
and a headlamp control levelling system are also fitted. Options include a Plus Pack of air-conditioning, trip computer, rear parking sensors and alarm at £1,400 and metallic paint at £440.
The Movano may not quite match up to the out-and-out ruggedness of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Iveco Daily, but its capabilities will be adequate for the typical UK fleet.
Also in its favour is the price, as if you want the Sprinter 4x4 it will cost you a tad over £38,000 – £10,000 more than the Movano.
You certainly won’t mistake this van for its standard brothers. As can be seen from the pictures, it sits much higher and on twin rear wheels – and it’s quite a climb up into the cab. That extra height means that the van has an impressive amount of ground clearance.
On the main road, driving to
the off-road section, the drivetrain underneath produced a lot of noise and the cab was by no means quiet and refined. The suspension was rock hard too, although as this van wasn’t built for motorway cruising we won’t mark it down for that.
The seats are certainly big and comfortable – they are one of the Movano’s big plus points.
Entering our first green lane we pressed the button on the dash to engage four-wheel drive and the van’s dynamics became much more rough and tough.
ESC is automatically switched off – and to let you know that it isn’t working, the van emits a beep every few seconds. Damned annoying, in fact, but then again most drivers won’t be 4x4 experts so maybe it’s a necessary evil.
As we got to the toughest part of the course we selected 4WD low and despite lots of mud, puddles and dirt, the Movano never felt as though it wouldn’t cope. The fact that maximum torque comes from as low as 1,250rpm makes this engine feel even more powerful than it is – as it was, we never managed to push the van past its capabilities.
By Trevor Gehlcken