Road Tests

The Sun VAN TEST: Readers pick their favourites

By Rob Gill Published

Transit | vans | Ford Transit

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GOT a leak? The plumber will turn up in a van. Shop online? Your stuff arrives by van. Need an ambulance? Van again.

Great Britain plc is run by an army of 3.4million van drivers and new van sales have already topped 186,000 this year, up 20 per cent on 2014.

Here three Sun readers – a builder and two plumbers – test the latest load luggers back-to-back and pick their favourite.

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Plumber Steve, 30, tested city/service vans

(Pictured in top pic on left)

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1. FORD TRANSIT COURIER

(above) from £12,500 exc VAT; 1-litre EcoBoost (100hp), 52mpg; payload 650kg.

STEVE SAYS: “It was quick for a 1-litre, really quick, no road tax, and it felt like a car to drive.

An ideal service van

“We trust the Transit name in Britain and this is based on the Fiesta, another favourite, so it should do well. It’s an ideal service van, cheap to run about, and it looks good too. I was dead impressed. I really thought it was a 1.6 at first.”

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2. PEUGEOT PARTNER ATV,

£14,385 exc VAT; 1.6-litre HDi (92bhp), 61mpg; payload 841kg.

STEVE SAYS: “This ran the Transit Courier close and it did have three seats in the front at a push. The ATV with grip control was impressive up and down the slopes off-road, especially to say it isn’t four-wheel drive. And it had different settings for mud, sand and snow. Delivery drivers in town will like the built-in TomTom.”

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3. RENAULT KANGOO Z.E.

from £21,167 inc VAT; 100 per cent electric, up to 100-mile range, payload 650kg.

I like the roof-flap for loading pipes and stuff

STEVE SAYS: “Not for me. It didn’t feel fast enough and the range is too low. That’s the problem with all electric cars, they can’t do the miles and you can’t charge them on jobs.

“Plus this one didn’t have a bulkhead to separate the cab. That’s not good for safety – or security. I like the roof-flap for loading pipes and stuff.”

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Builder Nick, 32, tested tippers/pick ups

(Pictured in top pic in middle)

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1. FORD TRANSIT TIPPER

(above), £29,000 exc VAT; 2.2-litre turbo diesel (125hp), 37mpg; payload 1,651kg.

NICK SAYS: “It ticks all the boxes for me – rear-wheel drive, twin wheel for towing a digger, six speed, and it looks the part. If I was buying one I’d go for the bigger 155hp engine.

“The dash layout is good, you don’t need to reach across for anything. Storage overhead, under the seats and a 230-volt socket. Very impressive. Can I swap with my 06-plate tipper?”

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2. FORD RANGER DOUBLE CAB 4x4,

from £19,177 exc VAT; 2.2-litre TDCI (150hp) 36mpg; payload 1,109kg.

NICK SAYS: “Another great bit of kit. But the load bed isn’t big enough for me and it’s too smart to go on jobs and chuck tools in. I tested it off-road against the Isuzu D-Max and it blitzed it. Everything in the Isuzu was 1990s plastic.

Everything in the Isuzu was 1990s plastic

“The layout was terrible and it had none of the electronic gadgets the Ranger had.”

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3. RENAULT MASTER TIPPER,

£26,995 exc VAT; 2.3-litre turbo diesel (125hp), 40mpg; payload 1,558kg.

NICK SAYS: “Felt a bit quicker than the Transit and it is better on fuel but it’s front-wheel drive, that’s a NO for me.

“Renault do offer RWD as well, though, and the twin wheel, and use the same British tipper body maker as Ford.

“Not bad inside, just wasn’t as smart as the Transit. It hasn’t moved on as much.”

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Plumber Alex, 32, tested panel vans

(Pictured in top pic on right)

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1. VAUXHALL VIVARO SPORTIVE

above, £22,138 exc VAT; 1.6-litre CDTi (140hp) ecoFLEX, 46mpg; payload 1,080kg.

Open the back doors and, boom, straight in

ALEX SAYS: “The Vivaro just edged it for me. I enjoyed driving it more and it felt quieter and quicker. Big inside, plenty of guts, extra storage on the dash. Well made. It’s a decent van. I like the bulkhead cat flap for long loads and I’m confident you can load a pallet with a forklift. Open the back doors and, boom, straight in.”

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2. MERCEDES VITO 111 CDI,

£19,180 exc VAT; 1.6-litre (114hp), 45mpg; payload 955kg.

ALEX SAYS: “The new Vito was on a par for being as quiet – and nearly as quick. Twin side doors. Big on safety. But the dash is too close. The middle passenger can’t have a right leg because of the gear stick. There are nice touches, front or rear-wheel drive, but I don’t think it will age well.”

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3. FORD TRANSIT CUSTOM,

£20,800 exc VAT; 2.2-litre TDCi Econetic (100hp), 44mpg with 70mph limiter; payload 1,027kg.

ALEX SAYS: “Looks great, probably had the best dash.

“It just didn’t have any guts, not enough torque for me. But it’s easy to drive, you can change gear with one finger.

“Reversing cameras, hill start assist, all that is good. Less chance of a bump. Less chance of having a row.”

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