What is it with the Germans and their colours?
Both Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen have launched new ranges of Euro V engines which are much greener than their predecessors – and then label them ‘Blue’.
As if that was confusing enough, our test vehicle arrived at Fleet Towers in flaming pillar box red!
So why blue and not green?
According to a marketing boffin at Volkswagen it’s all to do with the sky, the sea and the colour of our planet from outer space.
And – no doubt – a desire by the German contingent to be different from everyone else.
Colours aside, there is no doubt about the environmentally-friendly credentials of the van on test here.
It’s part of Volkswagen’s upgraded range of panel vans, chassis-cabs and double-cabs that now boast Euro V engines which are quieter, smoother, more powerful and more fuel-efficient than the old ones.
The improvements come as a result of some engineering jiggery-pokery under the bonnet.
For starters, new manual gearboxes are equipped with revised, longer ratios for fifth and sixth gears.
In addition, the gearbox now has a shorter throw to allow quicker, more efficient changes.
The engines have increased torque by up to 13.6%, plus improved fuel consumption.
The official extra urban consumption for a 109bhp engine in a Crafter CR35 panel van has improved by over 7%, from 32.1 mpg to 34.4 mpg.
The van also has the latest generation diesel particulate filter.
Emissions of particulates, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen have reduced to beyond the requirements of Euro V – and are almost half way to achieving Euro VI standards.
NOx reduction is achieved thanks to addition for the first time of an SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) catalytic converter together with an additive, the synthetically-produced, water-based solution containing 32.5% urea, AdBlue.
‘Selective’ refers to the way the catalytic converter selectively converts NOx components in the exhaust system into nitrogen and water without producing undesirable by-products.
Stored in an auxiliary tank, the AdBlue solution is continuously sprayed into the exhaust gas, upstream of the SCR catalytic converter.
The rate of spray is metered via engine management according to the mass flow rate of the exhaust gas using an NOx sensor downstream of the SCR catalytic converter.
Atomised into a vapour through a screen, the urea in the AdBlue is converted in the hot exhaust gas upstream of the catalytic converter, reacting with the nitrogen oxides and splitting them into nitrogen and water.
The 25-30 litre AdBlue tank will be refilled free of charge by the Volkswagen Van Centre network and authorised repairers during the first three years.
Apart from that little lot, the Crafter is much the same hewn-from-rock leviathan that it always has been.
The Crafter comes off the same production line in Germany as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter but whereas the Sprinter has a rather fine delicate looking front end, the Crafter has been renosed so that, when viewed in a car driver’s rearview mirror, it looks as though a 40-tonne truck is approaching.
A single 2.5-litre TDI engine is on offer, with varying outputs of 88bhp, 109bhp, 136bhp and 163bhp.
Our test vehicle is the 109bhp version in medium wheelbase high roof format – the ideal fleet choice in our opinion – and weighs in at £28,435 ex-VAT.
All Crafters are highly specced and come as standard with ABS brakes, traction control, remote central locking, height and reach and rake adjustment on the driver’s seat.
Our test van also had front and rear parking sensors at £316, air-con at a whopping £1,035 and electric heated mirrors at £155.