Opel Combo Cargo LWB

Remember the three bears and the porridge nursery story? The one bowl was just right. Not too hot or too small. Well Opel has pulled off a similar beautiful story.

Enter the new Combo Cargo Long Wheel Base, a van that is not too big, nor too little. I checked with an electrician, plumber and a carpenter, and they all thought it was just the right size and also priced right.

A bigger sister, the Zafira will be launched soon and will be similar in size as the previous Opel Vivaro van.

Opel Combo Cargo LWB

It is rated for one ton and offers two metres in length and 1.2 high, with 1.2 between the wheel arches in the cargo area. And yet the outside is small enough to fit into a normal parking bay or garage. Braked towing capability is 850kg, while unbraked is 720kg.

The other excellent feature is the cabin. Clever, in one word. It is the World Van of the Year after all.
Above the window is a ‘ledge’ or shelf which would be ideal for a clip board or A4 diary. In the dash is an old fashioned cubbyhole, a slot for something like an order book and a cubicle above the instrument cluster which has a lid and is ideal for keeping petty cash and slips and finally two cup holders. Forward of the gear lever is a space for your phone or tablet, slots for coins, a cavity for a remote and small circular holder.

The doors have the normal space with place for a water bottle and between the seats there is a receptacle for a wallet and a further two cup holders. There is also an additional 12v socket.
The bluetooth telephone system is geared to serve both driver and passenger.
I found the seats to be comfortable and the driving position good. The steering is adjustable for rake and height. The instrumentation and controls are functional and effective.

The cargo area is large (3.9m³) and long enough to hold two motorcycles or four or more mountain bikes. There are six tie down anchors and plenty of notches and holes to attach permanent fixtures and brackets. Fixing points for a roof rack are standard. There is a sixty/ forty full height rear door and doors on both sides in the LWB model. The Short Wheel Base has only one door and a few other minor differences.

Performance is good with a smooth five-speed manual box coupled to a willing 1.6L turbodiesel mill doing service. This van has more than enough power and 230Nm torque. Combined cycle fuel consumption is claimed to be 5L/100km and I think you will get under 6 in general driving and less than 5L/100km on the highway. This van is easy to drive and is more car like than commercial. The speed sensitive steering is almost too light for my taste but is a pleasure in town and makes manoeuvring simple. Speaking of which, I would have liked a rear view camera, but I am sure one would get used to the length very quickly.

It is actually comprehensively equipped with for example hill start assist, stability control, aircon with pollen filter, halogen lights, bluetooth and radio.

Opel have hit the sweet spot with this van, getting the price point, size and capability just right.

The five-seater bus version known as the Life will be available in September.

Warranty is three years or 120 000km and a three year or 60 000km service plan is included.

The direct competition is probably the VW Caddy Maxi and the Nissan NV200. All the other vans are smaller or bigger and easily R100 000 more expensive.
The Opel Combo LWB is listed at R350 000. The little sister short wheel base is R315 000, but remember it only has one side door and can handle a payload of 650kg.

The official website is: https://www.opel.co.za/cars/combo-cargo/model-overview.html

Originally published in Autosold.

VW T6 Kombi review

VW T6 Kombi 

The VW Type 2, or Kombi was introduced in 1950 and was related to the Type 1 or Beetle. The new Kombi is the sixth generation or T6 version and is an improvement on the T5 which was a radical change from earlier designs.

Without a doubt this is the best Kombi to date. It sticks to the basic recipe. Loads of space, good visibility, reasonable economy and pleasant to drive. The improvements and changes are all in the details.

VW Kombi

VW Kombi

Variants

There are five variants to choose from.

All are diesels, but you get to choose a lower or higher power version.

Long or short wheel base and basic or smart.

VW make three types of minibus. The Transporter range, Kombi and Caravelle.

Transporter is basically a bakkie, either single or double cab and sells from around R300 00, to R400 000, but a crew bus and a panel van are also available.

The Kombi range are 8 seater mini-busses, available in Trend or Comfortline trim levels and with either a 75kW or 103 kW diesel engine. Comfortline also has a long wheelbase version with a 7-speed DSG gearbox which is also an 8-seater.

The Caravelle is a seriously well appointed big MPV type personal bus. Caravelles start at R760 600 and top off at R873 500, befitting the luxury limo feel.

What its like

I got around 8 litres/100km on the open road and about 12 litres/100km in town, which is pretty good considering the size of the van.

The interior is very neat and functional. VW know a thing or two about car interior design and it shows.

From the driver’s seat you have very good visibility and all the controls are within reach and well laid out.

I found the air-conditioning rather rudimentary, although it does work especially for the front seats.

Issues I had with this new Kombi include the following – the gear stick obstructs the gear markings, although the display does indicate which gear you are in. The gearbox seems to hunt on occasion especially at low speeds, fortunately the less powerful version only comes in manual.

For such a big vehicle the omission of park distance control or assist coupled to a lack of a rear camera was disappointing.

I found the brakes overly sharp and the hill hold control unrefined.

VW_Kombi_2

 

The Kombi Comfortline 2.0 TDI DSG (103kW) we tested retails for R583 900 and included the following options: metallic paint, towbar, comfort package, 17-inch alloy wheels, multifunction steering wheel and the audio system, which all adds up.

Prices vary from R496 300 for a Trendline to R609 00 for the top of range Comfortline, excluding extras.

Also look at the Hyundai H1 which has been recently facelifted, Ford Tourneo, Chrysler Grand voyager, Kia Grand Sedona and the Mercedes Vito/ V-class.

VW gives you a 5 year or 60 000 maintenance plan and a 3 year or 120 000 warranty.

VW_Kombi_3

Ford Tourneo Connect 1.6 Automatic

Ford-Tourneo-Connect-057-noseFord Tourneo Connect 1.6 Automatic

After many years Ford has a little van again. And what a little van it is.

The Ford Tourneo  comes in two sizes, three trim levels and choice of two engines.

The Grand Connect 1.6 Automatic we drove is a 7-seater MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), the smaller model a real 5-seater.

Ford-Tourneo-Connect-037-side

The Connect may look like a van but it drives like a car, feels like a car. The Titanium model even has climate control and of course cruise control.

Ford-Tourneo-Connect-110-interiorIt has a full trip computer indicating distance to empty, instant and average fuel consumption, average speed, outside temperature and so on.

There are sliding rear doors on both sides for very easy access.

The driver’s seat is very good with 4-way adjustability: fore/aft; recline: up/down & lumbar adjust.

I got a fuel consumption of 9.2 litres/ 100km overall and around 8 on the open road. The SWB 1litre model will get around 6 litres/ 100km overall.   The 1.6 engine delivers more than enough usable power and is quite gutsy in this application. I am told the 1.0L engine in the SWB models is also very effective.

Ford Tourneo Connect Loadspace

Ford Tourneo Connect Loadspace

The interior, at least for the front row is very car like. The dash and interior are well laid out and all the buttons are where they should be.

There is a ton of storage – from storage compartments on the facia top with lift up lids to overhead stowage lockers. You will find a spot for everything.

The audiovisual system is typical modern Ford (in other words good) and offers two power point sockets at the front and rear of the console.

Normal models have air-conditioning but there is climate control in the Titanium model which has many luxury items including for example leather steering wheel and gear knob and panoramic roof.

Ford-Tourneo-Connect-116-doors

This van has Hill Launch Assist and an impressive list of safety and handling aids including Roll-Over Mitigation, Torque Vectoring Control, Electronic Stability Programme and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. In short, she handles like a car because she has been engineered to.

The optional panoramic roof window fitted our car is a amazing.

It gives you a whole new way of looking at the world.

The tiered wing mirrors are inspiring. Look for yourself.

Ford-Tourneo-Connect-mirrorThe Tourneo Connect is practical, handles and goes well, has loads of features and is good value for money.

Starts at R273 900 for the 1.0 EcoBoost Trend SWB, R283 900 for the Ambiente and R363 900 for the 1.6 EcoBoost (or 1.6 TDCi) Titanium LWB we tested.

Also look at Toyota Avanza, Suzuki Ertiga, Honda, Nissan NP200, Golf SV, Citroen C4 Picasso, Opel Meriva.

Warranty is 4 years or 120 000km and the service plan is for 4years or 60 000km.

Van or Bakkie with canopy?

Bakkies are the love of southern Africa car owners. The Toyota Hi Lux is often the biggest selling ‘car’ model not only in South Africa, but also in Botswana and Namibia and is the best selling vehicle this year.

Bakkies are great. There is just the little problem of the load being unprotected from the weather and from wondering eyes. Fortunately there is an easy solution. Get a canopy.

Roof high canopy with swinging doors.

Roof high canopy with swinging doors.

We are spoiled for choice of canopies.

Four materials are generally used for making canopies.

Canvas is the original material and remains a good choice of you only need a temporary cover from time to time. It does not give good security though.

Mild steel metal canopies have lost their popularity due to rust and weight issues. In some cases 3CR12 stainless steel is now used in both canopies and trailers. It is very corrosion resistant, strong and light, but pricey.

Aluminium canopy

Aluminium canopy

Aluminium canopies are gaining in popularity. They are extremely light and tough.

Most canopies are made of fibreglass/glass reinforced polyester. They are cheaper than metal and almost as strong and durable. They are slightly heavier than aluminium products.

Generally aluminium canopies are the most durable and secure, but also the most expensive.

Canopies come in two basic shapes. Space saver or full door canopies often come with a nose cone to help with aerodynamics and are higher than the roof of the cabin of the bakkie. The other shape is as high as the roof of the cabin and often has a half door that swings up.

Tall canopy - high security

Tall canopy – high security

Comparing the cost of a van with a bakkie and canopy it looks a bit like this in the case of the most popular smaller commercial vehicle range, the Nissan 200 series.

Nissan NP200 bakkie, the base 1.6 8v model is R134 600, but with air-conditioning and safety pack it costs R152 200. The diesel 1.5 DCi is R193 400.

The Nissan NV200 1.6i van starts at  R212 300. It comes with safety pack and air-conditioner as standard. The diesel 1.5 DCi costs R240 900.

The full canopy costs R11 500 installed. The slightly bigger canopy with nosecone is R13 000. The half height or roof height standard canopy costs around R9 000, while an executive low-line canopy is around R11 000. The differences between the standard and executive models include gas struts, roof rails, lockable door, UV tinted windows and interior light.

The NP200 with a full (highline) canopy is R205 000, With a roof height (lowline) canopy is R203 000.

Variety of fibreglass canopies

Variety of fibreglass canopies

The difference between a small van and a half ton bakkie with canopy ranges from R30 000  to R35 000.

I have used Beekman fibreglass shell canopies as the example for pricing, partly because they are nationwide and partly because their service is so good. They are the only local canopy manufacturer to achieve ISO9001 quality accreditation and offer a 2 year warranty on the shell and one year on the mechanical parts. Andy Cab offer a 3 year warranty on their shells.

The full height canopies have better security due to their unitary construction without side windows and the large galvanised double doors.

For the best security a van is still the best option. Also the side door of most vans should improve productivity markedly. The R30 000 cost difference is quite substantial.

The full height canopy is very useful. The doors are just so much more substantial and it is easier to work inside. I think they are worth the extra R1 000.

 

 

 

Ford Tourneo and Transit review

Ford Tourneo and Transit

Ford-Tourneo-thumbFord have had two really great years. They have launched the best bakkie in South Africa, the Ranger, the best affordable small car the Figo based on the previous Fiesta and the new Focus and Fiesta.

The recently launched Ford range of vans are big medium sized vehicles.

The Tourneo which is a 8 seater luxury people mover and its cargo sister the Transit.

They both use the brilliant 2.2 litre turbodiesel engine made in Port Elizabeth and also fitted to the Ranger bakkies.  These Duratorq TDCi 2.2 engines come in two versions of which the more powerful produces 92kW at 3 500 and  350Nm from 1 450 rpm. A lot of power with which to work.

Ford Tourneo

Ford Tourneo

They are fitted with 6 forward gears so fuel consumption is excellent. The sixth gear is almost like a long overdrive, helping to give impressive highway consumption figures of under 6litre/100km. Ford claims 6.5litre/100km for general driving. I think you will get around 7litre/100km based on my experience and closer to 7.5 when fully laden. Still an awesome figure. Top speed is over 150km/h. Acceleration is car like. With the smooth gearbox and easy clutch, changing gears becomes second nature the first time you drive these vans.

You are helped by the hill launch assist function which holds the van for a moment when you take your foot off the brake to pull away without effort even on a hill. The turning circle is around 12m.

The vans come fitted with all the important safety features including ABS with EBD, stability control, and rear solid disks at the back. Airbags are standard for both driver and front passenger, side airbags and in the Tourneo includes curtain airbags as well. These vans are as safe as is practical with today’s technology and is class leading.

Interior

Interior

Interior

The interior of especially the Tourneo is well designed and is fully equipped. The front windows are powered.

Fitted as standard is air conditioning with filter-air pollen purifier, heated fully adjustable front seats, carpets throughout, courtesy lights and all the normal bottle holders and pouches.

The middle and rear seats fold completely and can be relatively easily removed to make a huge cargo space. The Tourneo has more space behind the rear seats than any of its competition.

There are 3 power points, a good sound system with USB, Bluetooth, aux connections, arm rests and 8 coat hooks.

The cabin is very pleasant and will make a great tourer.

A very big boot

A very big boot

Driving impressions

The Tourneo is effortless to drive. Much like a big car. Even reversing is easy thanks to the park distance sensors and split rear view mirrors which have normal and wide angle mirrors. Visibility is excellent.

Acceleration is good, especially when overtaking. You just need to drop a gear and away she goes. It cruises at 120km/h with ease.

Cornering is impressive for such a tall vehicle (2m high) and you always feel confident. Both handling and road holding set new standards for medium sized vans.

Conclusion

Ford spares are generally very affordable and available so keeping your vehicle on the road should be easy. The new Fords all drive well, have good road holding and appear to really well built.

The Tourneo is the perfect shuttle or courtesy bus. Take the seats out and you have a cargo van.

A vehicle, which although slightly smaller, should be looked at when considering the Fords is the Hyundai H1 range. The diesel H1s are very good.

All Ford vans come with a 4 yr/120 000km warranty and 5 yr/unlimited km corrosion guarantee. Service intervals are 15 000km.

Ford Tourneo

Ford Tourneo

Pricing

Ford Tourneo passenger busses

Model                                   Excl. Vat               Incl. Vat

Ambiente SWB – LP         R 338,246              R385,600

Trend SWB – MP               R 358,070              R408,200

Ambiente LWB – LP         R 344,386             R392,600

Ambiente LWB – LP         R 364,123             R415,100

Ford Transit cargo vans

Model                                                   Excl. Vat               Incl. Vat

2.2 Ambiente SWB – LP                  R 265,877             R303,100

2.2 Ambiente LWB – LP                  R 272,018             R310,100

2.2 Ambiente SWB – MP                R 269,123             R306,800

2.2 Ambiente LWB – MP                R 278,772             R317,800

2.2 Sport HP                                       R 320,175             R365,000

Nissan NV200 review

NV200 dash

 

Nissan NV200 van

Nissan have just launched two ranges of vans, the medium to large sized NV350 which competes with Toyota’s Quantum and VW’s Crafter, and the smaller NV200 which competes with the VW Caddy and Toyota Avanza.

The NV200 is that rare commercial vehicle – good looking, stylish, practical, comfortable and does the job expected of it. A version has been picked after a very intensive evaluation to be the next New York City yellow cab and its a finalist for London’s new taxi. Nissan are going to shake up the light commercial segment with this range of vehicles.

The NV200 takes quite a load.

The NV200 takes quite a load.

Some of the pluses include a sliding door on both sides, excellent height for both goods and people (and children) to get in and out and versatile seat arrangement. It is a very easy vehicle to live with.

The NV200 handles very well for a little commercial vehicle. In fact, it drives like a car. The steering, gears, clutch – all are light and direct. She cruises pleasantly at the legal limit and handles hills well. Acceleration is better than for example the Avanza, as is road holding.

Noise, vibration and unwanted sounds are well damped. It is a quiet cab and visibility is excellent. The layout of the dash is well thought out. Controls and switches are of acceptable quality and are easy to hand.

There are plenty of cup holders and provision for storage, including a file holder in the dash and a bin under the adjustable driver’s seat. The seats are very comfortable. It is a comfortable car in all aspects.

As a little bus it is an 8 seater for adults. As a weekend camping vehicle you can easily remove the third row of seats making a huge boot big enough for a tent, sleeping bags, stretchers, cool box, chairs… all the stuff for a weekend away.

Nissan NV200

Nissan has fitted a full suite of safety equipment to these vehicles from air bags to electronic stability and brake distribution as well as ABS brakes. Standard equipment include aircon, power steering and windows, sound system, aux, Bluetooth, USB, central locking and remote keyless entry.

Build quality appears to be very good. Fit and finish is excellent.

The range consists of: two panel vans and two busses, one diesel, one petrol. The cheapest is the NV200 1.6i P/van at R190 500. The diesel panel van is R220 500. The NV200 1.6i Combi (as tested) R240 500 and the diesel R271 400.

The 1.6 petrol engine produces 85kW and 153Nm from 4 400rpm. The 1.5 diesel produces 66kW at 4 000rpm and 200Nm from 1 750rpm. We tested the petrol model and found it to be very suitable for in town use with consumption of around 7.5 l/100km. If long trips on open roads are to be made often, the diesel will be our first choice. Nissan claims diesel consumption of 5.1 l/100km but we think you should work on 6.

The warranty is 3 years or 100 000km with 15 000km service intervals.

NV 200 dash.

NV 200 dash.

Renault Trafic 1.9 Dci van review

Renault Trafic 1.9 Dci

What does Opel, Nissan and Renault have in common. A van, that’s what. In Renault’s case it is called the Trafic.

Image

The Trafic is a medium size van with 6m³ of cargo space and a 1.2 ton payload. That is a very useful load. Access is from a sliding door on the left side and a double door at the back which swings open wide. The floor is low making it very easy to load and unload.

Image

Consumption

The 1.9 dCi turbodiesel engine delivers 74kW at 3 500 rpm and 240Nm. They claim a combined consumption of 7.9 litre per 100km, but a more likely average consumption 0f around 8.5 litre/100km can be expected. At 120km/h you will get around 7.4 litre/100km. The 90 litre tank gives you a good range. She climbs hills without any problems and accelerates well for a van.

Maximum towing weight unbraked is 750kg, braked 2 000kg.

The van is easy to drive and easy to use. Loading and unloading is easy due to the low floor height and the two large doors. The cabin is well laid out with comfortable seats, a good driving position and a number of storage shelves and bins. Radio, aircon, lights all work well and are easy to use.

Getting in and out of the van is a bit of an issue. The driver will tend to grab the steering wheel to hoist himself in as their is no ‘A’  pillar grip. The passenger also had a bit of a scramble.

Driving the Trafic is a breeze. Brakes work well, steering is accurate and she accelerates quite well.

Clutch and gears are easy to use. The 6 speed gearbox really helps to get cruising speed fuel economy.

I did not like the lack of a bulkhead or partition between the cab and the cargo area. Speaking of which. The finish in the cargo area is a little rough and ready. Most of the back is a single wall with just fairly flimsy braces holding everything in place. It would be a good idea to panel the interior with wooden or rubber strips and put non slip rubber on the floor.

The Trafic comes with a 6 year anti-corrosion warranty, a 5 Year / 150 000km mechanical warranty and a 5 year / 100 000km service plan.

Price

The basic price is R249 900. The Opel Vivaro, its direct competitor, costs around R252 000, and is available as either 1.9 DCi or a 2.0 petrol.

VW offers the Panel Van 2.0 TDI 75kW LWB at R255 877 but excludes a service plan which costs R9 404 for the 90 000km option. The Hyundai H1 at  R269 900 seems to be the most sturdy van and should be investigated before purchasing one of the others.

The big advantage of the Opel is the additional sliding door on the right and the bulkhead behind the seat between the load area and the cab. The Vivaro also has front fog lights. Both are built in the same factory and the diesel engines are the same units. It seems to me that the Opel may be the better deal. Drive both before deciding. Also consider which brand gives the better service in your area.

2012 small van review

2012 small van review

A number of models have been discontinued since our last small van review. It would seem that having tested the market, many manufacturers have decided to whittle away at their selections. VW Caddy currently offers the most variants and also sells by far the most vans locally (as of December 2011). The smallest van in our line-up is the Toyota Avanza, which also has a very narrow load area. The biggest is the Maxi version of the Caddy. A very practical solution is the Caddy Crew Bus with its second row of seats resulting in a 1.6m³ load volume (there is also a seven seater).

Because vans are used in mainly urban settings, all the manufacturers offer petrol models, which are more fuel efficient in stop-start conditions and for very short trips. Diesels are, of course, more efficient over longer distances.

VW Caddy

Volkswagen has four models on offer. This line-up includes a standard panel van, which can carry 741kg, and has a 3.2 m³ carrying capacity. It is available as either a 1.6-petrol or a 2.0-TDi diesel. The Maxi is 1m³ bigger in the back than the standard model, while the Crew Bus has two rows of seats and features a 2.0-TDi diesel engine.

Toyota Avanza

The Avanza is quite a bit smaller than the others vans here and is much narrower. On the Highveld the performance is adequate, but at the coast quite good.

The cabin is not as geared to working when compared to the interiors of many of its competitors, nor is it as well appointed as the rest.

Opel Combo

The Combo has ABS and a driver airbag, and speed-sensitive power steering making for a very safe small van.

Renault Kangoo Express

The Kangoo uses space brilliantly, both in the cabin (which is very comfortable) and at the back. The central storage module allows you to keep essential items at your fingertips. A central in-dash storage compartment is ideal for A4 documents. Or for bulkier objects, you can use the overhead parcel shelf. The Kangoo has by far the best warranty.

Peugeot Partner

The new Partner is a good looking and well designed van. The cabin is very practical and comfortable.

Citroen Berlingo

The Berlingo has just been re-launched at a special price of R160 190 for the 1.6-petrol model and R 192 690 for the diesel. It is very similar to the Peugeot Partner in all respects. A snag for most small business owners is that the Berlingo is sold and serviced through Citroen’s commercial vehicle network at their relatively few and far between Business Centres and so access could be quite inconvenient.

So, what should you buy?

The Opel Combo will be an excellent choice for small in-town deliveries, for everything else VW has an answer

  VW Caddy VW Caddy Toyota Avanza Opel Combo Renault Kangoo Peugeot Partner Peugeot Partner
Price* R155 175 R182 719 R147 300 R155 940 R164 900 R174 680 R188 680
Engine 1.6i petrol 2.0 TDi 1.3 petrol 1.4 petrol 1.6 petrol 1.6 petrol 1.6 Hdi
Power (kW) 75 81 67 66 64 80 66
Torque (Nm) 148 250 120 125 128 147 215
0 – 100 sec 13.3 12.1 14.2 14 15.8 14 19.6
Top speed (km/h) 164 170 160 164 158 167 150
Consumption combined (?) 8.2 5.6 7.2 6 8.2 8.4 5.8
Urban (?) 10.7 6.8 11 8.0 10.9 11.2 7
Volume (m³) 3.2 4.2 1.2 2.39 /3.2 3 3.3 3.3
Payload (kg) 741 813 600 735 800 850 850
Warranty (yr/km) 2/unlimited 2/unlimited 3/100 000 5/120 000 5/150 000 3/100 000 3/100 000

.

*All prices correct at time of going to print.

Hyundai H1 review

Hyundai H1 CRDi bus

Both the Hyundai H1 bus and van take Hyundai to the front in the standard or medium size van and kombi segment. The Koreans have got it just right. A willing engine, good road holding, space and excellent build quality. It is also good looking and a pleasure to drive. I was impressed.

With the recent addition of the 2.5 TDi diesel engine to the package which has a cavernous interior, excellent cabin, superb equipment levels and good road manners I predict the H1 will dominate the medium van and bus segment. There is not a better buy.

The H1 bus comes with aircon which has temperature and speed control for the back vents, sound system with aux input, alloy wheels, leather upholstery and ABS.

What’s good  

The H1 has sliding doors on both sides making for very easy access. Seats are comfortable, especially the front seats.

The driving position is excellent with all round visibility and all controls in easy reach. The cabin is well designed with a myriad storage spaces and a good feel to it. The quality of interior finishes and materials is excellent as is the switchgear. It is a pleasant place to be.

The H1 is easy to manoeuvre and to drive. Steering requires only a light touch and the breaks are excellent. The automatic gearbox has been very well matched to the CRDi engine which gives good consumption figures of around 10 litres/100km. The H1 has plenty of usable power and torque and never strains to carry its load. Acceleration (especially when overtaking) and top speed are both good for this type of vehicle. It almost feels nippy.

It’s like driving a large powerful car, even around corners.

The park distance control system makes parking a breeze, as it is quite a wide vehicle and 5m long.

What’s bad

The petrol engines do this vehicle a disservice. They are underpowered and feel anaemic. The bus does not have a lot of space in the back if you need luggage space for all 7 or especially 9 passengers. The volume control for the radio is a little far away from the steering wheel. To some the looks are a little too conservative and commercial.

It could be argued that it is a little small compared to the Toyota Quantum or Mercedes Vito but to many that may be a plus.

Conclusion

I recommend you get the diesels. Forget about the petrol models. Drive the Hyundai and you will probably choose it above the competition, especially when you factor in the price and service plan.

The Hyundai CRDi panel van costs R264 900 and the bus R373 900. Competitors include the VW T5 Kombi at R449 000 ( thats R90k more!), Mercedes Vito  R392 616, FIAT Scudo R396 900, Nissan Primastar/ Opel Vivaro R329 000 (a bit smaller).

Included in the price are the very good 5 year / 150 000 km warranty, 5 year / 100 000 service plan and roadside assistance.

Small van review, VW Caddy, Fiat Doblo, Opel Combo

Originally published in Your Business magazine in December 2010.

Getting the right wheels for your business is not such a simple decision.

A few years ago it was simple.

Which bakkie to get? And there were only four possibilities. But times have changed. Not only must we now consider the purchase price, but the cost of ownership over the life of the vehicle which includes the cost of fuel and the type of fuel and the overall efficiency needs to be considered. We also need to think about security, image and driver comfort and behaviour.

Bakkie vs Van

A base petrol bakkie with a basic canopy will cost you around R115 00, while a base model petrol van will cost around R 150 000. So what do you get for the extra R35 000?

For starters the specifications of the vans are more in line with the middle trim, if not top model of the bakkies. This includes little but important details like a place to keep your clip board, much better seats and so on. If you compare bakkies with vans of a similar specification then the price difference is about R10 000.

Secondly you get much easier access to your load. Remember the vans have a door on the side as well as fully opening doors at the back. The load bed is normally lower. At around 800 kg payload capacity the vans can carry more than the bakkies, except for the Nissan.

Thirdly and probably most importantly security is in another league entirely. The vans are safer to drive and your cargo is safer in the back.

Finally the cabs of the vans are as a rule better designed for a delivery vehicle and more ergonomic. If you need to keep your load cool you need to get a van with air conditioner like the Doblo.

With the diesels it looks a little different, but the difference is also around R30 000. If you compare the diesel vans and bakkies of the same trim levels the difference is around R5 000.

Fuel consumption is generally better for the vans.

Bakkies under one ton

There are broadly five makes available on the market. The smallest is the Chevrolet which used to be the Opel Corsa and the biggest the Nissan NP200.

Generally speaking you will need to add the cost of a canopy to the price of you bakkie. The most basic canopy from Canopy King is R5 200. Beekmans have a slightly more robust canopy which has a high roofline and full door at R6 600.

Cheapest Petrol Cheapest Diesel Canopy
Ford Bantam R101 950 R141 250 5200
Chevrolet (Corsa) R107 600 R151 300 5200
FIAT Strada R107 400 n/a 5200
Nissan NP200 R103 100 R143 600 5200
Proton R88 995 5200

The biggest selling small bakkie in recent years has been the Opel Corsa. In May it was facelifted, become slightly more expensive and is now badged  as a Chevrolet. It is a great little all rounder but has rather limited carrying capacity.

The Ford Bantam has also recently had a mid-life upgrade. It’s a great little bakkie and handles extremely well. The diesel engine is very smooth and effective.

The Nissan NP200 is the biggest of these bakkies concerning both the cabin space and the carrying capacity. Its also the newest design and shares a platform with the Renault Sandero.

The Fiat Strada has an ace up its sleeve in the form of the X-space an extended cab version. These Fiats are extremely economical.

The Proton Arena is made in Malaysia and offers a three year warranty.

Vans under one ton

Five manufacturers offer small vans. The best selling is the VW Caddy, the most versatile and the biggest is the FIAT Doblo. The Toyota is basically the MPV without the seats and windows.

Petrol Diesel Load volume litres Payload
FIAT Doblo R151 400 3200 850
VW Caddy R147 632 R175 351 3200 730
Toyota Avanza R140 100 955 600
Puegeot Partner R155 900 R168 200 3300 850
Opel Combo R155 940 2390 520

The Toyota Avanza is not quite in the same league as the others. It is more of a replacement for the previous Corolla Tazz micro van. If all you want is a very small delivery van then it’s quite a cost effective solution. I drove one in Johannesburg and can confirm that it is powerful enough to get the job done.

The Peugeots seem to be quite expensive although their cabins are well equipped and it is a recently introduced model with all the latest safety kit. One snag is the distribution of branches and service points.

The Opel Combo has been available for a few years. I have not driven one as they are quite rare and cannot comment on it. It is a little smaller than the Caddy and Doblo.

Fiat Doblo

I am quite a fan of the FIAT Doblo. It’s got a roomy well thought out cabin with lots of handy pockets, holders and storage spaces. All the doors open the way they should and the load area is actually quite big. I drove the previous diesel model and found it to be superb with a brilliant air conditioner. I am told the present petrol model is an upgrade. It certainly seems as comfortable and is well appointed but does not come standard with air conditioner. These vans come with all the modern safety equipment and ride enhancement tools fitted. Take one for a test drive.

VW Caddy

The VW Caddy is an efficient small commercial vehicle. It’s cab is a bit smaller and less well equipped than the Fiat’s but still comfortable and practical. They sell around a hundred a month of them. It reminds one a bit about the Polo of two generations ago.

You also get the Caddy Maxi which is 300 mm longer, has a capacity of 800kg and a load volume 4200 litres and costs R183 509.

There is also a Maxi crew bus which is a van with a second row of seats at just under R200 000. Safety features include disc brakes front and rear,  ABS / TCS / EBC, electronic power steering and rear fog lights.

If you want rubber floor covering it will be an extra R1570. Cruise control is R1 700 and air conditioning is R8 400 extra.

Conclusion

The side door together with the wide opening rear doors make these vans very efficient business vehicles. Add to that the added security and the comfort of the cabins and they become a real option to the old school bakkie with a canopy.