Vauxhall Vivaro lwb 1.9 CDTi crew-cab


YOU would think that driving a vehicle which boasts 4.9 cubic metres of cargo space would present no problems getting a week’s shopping back from Sainsbury’s. Well, that’s where you’d be wrong. Try putting 10 bags of assorted groceries in the back and you are likely to find them strewn across the load area when you get home, eggs broken, flour bags popped and chops and various meat products liberally doused in dust.

Put the bags on one of the seats and you can bet your life you’ll have to carry out an emergency stop, in which case the groceries will plummet earthwards, smashing anything made of glass.

Tins and other cylindrical items will then roll backwards and forwards across the floor as you go round corners, one of which will invariably wedge itself under the clutch pedal.

Third option is to put the bags under the rear row of seats, in which case everything will slide out.

Then, when you open the side door, chances are a bottle of Pimms or some other hideously expensive item will roll majestically out and crash on to the pavement.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the Vivaro for this shortcoming – all vans are the same. But it would be a great boon to have as standard some little device for stowing away smaller objects in safety.

It’s not exactly rocket science, is it?

And while we’re at it, we could do with a proper CD storage system as standard too. At present, mine are wedged into the driver’s door pocket.

Storage or lack of it for smaller stuff apart, the Vivaro is proving itself by far the most useful vehicle on the long-term fleet.

And something miraculous is happening under the bonnet too.

When the van first arrived, with just over 100 miles on the clock, the diesel powerplant was tight as a drum. But now, with over 4,000 miles on the clock, the unit is loosening up nicely and is turning out to be a right little flier. Our model is the 100bhp version with the standard six-speed gearbox but it would be interesting to take a ride in the lower powered 80bhp version to see what the difference is.

The Vivaro found itself loaded down to the gunwales again last weekend when a friend of mine offered me 10 large bags of stones for my garden. It is solid clay underground and needs some serious drainage installing.

It was an ideal chance to load up the van close to its top capacity of 1,091kg but I’d never have guessed it was straining. It still plugged away as usual up the hills and acceleration didn’t seem to have been affected in the slightest.

All I felt was a slight heaviness in the back which in fact made the van ride more easily over the bumps.

At the time of writing, our crew-cab is preparing for its biggest challenge yet – a trip to the Le Mans 24-hour race, complete with six burly blokes and several shed loads of camping gear. Our esteemed deputy editor Steve Moody does nothing by halves and his stag do at the hallowed circuit promises to be a belter.

We’ll be reporting on this trip next month.

Vauxhall Vivaro crew cab 1.9 CDTi
Price (OTR ex-VAT): £16,315
Mileage: 4,332
CO2 emissions (g/km): n/a
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 22% tax-payer: £110 per year
Insurance group: 5E
Combined mpg: n/a
Test mpg: 28.3
CAP Monitor residual value: £5,750/34%
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.