WE’VE got a smashing bunch of cars on long-term test here at present – a Jaguar S-type, an Audi A6 3.0 TDI and a Mazda RX-8 to name but a few.
But when it comes to useful vehicles, one reigns supreme – our trusty Vauxhall Vivaro double-cab.
The van has been with us for just over a month now and in that time it has been a great favourite with our testers.
I am playing fleet manager with the vehicle at present, but rarely has a weekend gone by when one tester or another hasn’t borrowed it. And they all come back on Monday morning with a big grin on their faces.
Meanwhile, on the work front, the Vivaro has been busy too. At the Fleet News Awards in March, the Vivaro was loaded down with all sorts of gear as the office decamped to the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, London.
Our sister title Classic Cars borrowed the Vivaro too for its show Classic Cars Live at Alexandra Palace.
If you want to carry around five cubic metres of cargo and six people, there just isn’t another vehicle around that will suffice for us.
General consensus is that driving the Vivaro is just like driving a big, comfortable car.
There are several reasons for this – one is that the driver’s seat is a dream, with just the right amount of support in all the right places.
Another is that the 1.9-litre common-rail diesel powerplant is smooth and quiet. Add to that a nicely-weighted power steering set-up and you have a cracking vehicle.
Our model has a full bulkhead complete with a glazed portion, glazed side windows and glazed rear doors, which means that reversing is a doddle. Mind you, a rear beeping sensor wouldn’t go amiss.
And talking of minor gripes, the windscreen wipers could do with a bit more gusto and the rear screens don’t have wipers on them, which seems a rather strange omission.
But apart from these two minor niggles, this van is proving to be a star performer. It arrived here at Fleet Towers last month with just 100 miles on the clock. The engine felt pretty tight at the time and the six-speed gearbox had to be worked hard to get maximum performance.
But now, with around 1,600 miles under its bonnet, the motor is loosening up nicely – and the dash-mounted gearstick is proving slick and sure.
We have also managed to carry out a proper fuel consumption test for the first time. Our Vivaro is currently returning a tad over 27 miles per gallon, which isn’t bad as the motor is still running in and, if I were to be honest, I’d have to admit that the van has been driven ‘enthusiastically’ for much of its short life so far.
In three weeks’ time, our Vivaro faces its first big test.
A friend of mine recently bought a farm near Roscommon in Southern Ireland and I will be taking over some furniture for him, along with my son and another friend.
It will be interesting to see how the Vivaro copes with a full load and a very long journey. Personally, I have every confidence that the van will help make our trip a roaring success.
Model: Vauxhall Vivaro crew cab 1.9 CDTi
Price (OTR ex-VAT): £16,315
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: 27.1
CAP Monitor residual value: £5,750/34%
Expenditure to date: Nil
- Figures based on three years/60,000 miles