The Continental Tyres Irish Van of the Year 2020 is… Triplets?
The PSA Group’s Citroen Berlingo, Opel Combo Cargo (from €16,500) and Peugeot Partner have collectively been crowned the winner of the coveted award. All three share the same platform and engines under the skin, with only a few minor differences inside and out to show their brand identity. As one of the 12 Judges in the competition I back-to-back tested all the qualifying vans from the impressive list: The PSA three, Ford Transit 2 tonne, Mercedes Benz eVito, Opel Vivaro, Renault Master/Opel Movano and Renault Traffic.
I was particularly impressed with Peugeot’s lead on visibility. The Partner Professional Plus model comes with ‘Surround Rear Vision’. A clever camera system and monitor display that takes the place of a rear view mirror makes it debut in a commercial and greatly enhances vision all around the van. This is a very positive contribution to road safety as it helps reduce blind spots and should save a fortune from potential crash damaged or even minor dings that are all too common. Though not fitted as standard to its siblings the tech is there and available. The only physical criticism concerns the small mirrors but the camera system negates this. Faux all wheel drive is available also via grip control. This makes mucky site access handy without the expense of buying a full four wheel drive van.
The Transit 2 Tonne (2106-2232kgs 470 €40,000) is a lovely machine to drive and use. It is a familiar friend and our front wheel drive test model felt compact and nimble despite its vast size. The 2 litre diesel does a good job hauling the long wheel base high roofed van about with its relatively modest 130hp.
The Mercedes Benz eVito electric van delivers 116hp/300nm of power. It has a range of 150km from a full charge of its 41kWh battery. The only thing holding it back for now is availability. The battery can be used at a charging power of 7.2 kW in about 6 hours fully charged from 0 to 100%. The vehicle is fitted with a standard speed limit of 80 km/h which can be uprated upon request. The machine can only be bought in batches of five or more so the sole trader working in the city who might get the most from its ultra low running costs will have to wait for a good few months before being able to purchase one. The eVito is available in long wheelbase only. With its cargo volume of 6.0 m3 you have no restrictions due to the electric drive. The payload is up to 1,015 kg.
The Opel Vivaro (from €24,495) delivers a nice to drive van with no frills or nonsense. The cabin is durable and quite well insulated from road noise. Available in three body styles and two lengths the Vivaro can carry up to 1,400kgs and is long enough to take a minimum of two Euro pallets and up to three in the long body. With its FlexCargo front seat bench the middle seat panel folds to make a table top.
The new Renault Master (from €25,650), sister van of the Opel Movano (its complicated) is vast and will give Volkswagen’s Crafter a run for its money. Our test van had an optional air seat for the driver that high milage users will enjoy but is not needed for shorter runs. There is a new range for engines. The Crew van variant that can seat up to seven people. An electric Master Z.E. with 120km ‘real world’ electric driving range is also available. There is a foldable middle front seat that makes a table top, 105 litres of undersea storage and a multi media touch screen display in the cabin.
The Renault Traffic (from €25,945) we tested was a range topper and had an auto gearbox. It makes you wonder why all vans don’t have self shifters. The car like, cosy cab area was nice and the driving experience near effortless. Under the seats is 90 litres of cubby space, there’s a very handy laptop docking station, cruise control and air con too. Strong locks, split mirrors, LED headlights and front and rear parking sensors are among the highlights. Its 2 litre diesel pushes out 168hp.
Pat Ryan, Citroën Ireland MD commented, “To be awarded Irish Van of the Year 2020 is an achievement that we are very proud of and gifts a tribute to our brand on this its centenary year. The award conveys the trust of professionals in our van range which is echoed by the continual growth of the Citroën brand in Ireland. Our van range accounts for 58% of our overall brand registrations and Berlingo is our bestseller, having our core model recognised as the best van on the market adds to our positive outlook for 2020. Finally, I would like to thank the members of the motoring jury for their consideration of the New Berlingo for Irish Van of the Year 2020” Starting at €17,745 including delivery, the Berlingo Van comes in two sizes, M and XL, with a Crew van available. It’s versatility and modularity are shown by multiple features such as sliding doors and payloads of up to 1,000kg.