IMI Magazine

IMI Magazine

Commercial vehicles

By John Kendall

Similar to look at but with more power choice

Volkswagen’s fifth generation Transporter, due to make an appearance in the UK later this year, looks a lot like the one it replaces, but the range has been expanded and the choice of engines includes the most powerful diesel in its class, as well as a potent V6 petrol.

Just as before, there is a range of body options including van, chassis cab, double cab and passenger carrying variants, based on a wheelbase of either 3.0m or 3.4m. The model is available in three roof heights for the first time, giving body volumes of between 5.9 and 8.4m3 and loading heights up to 1.94m for the panel van. Payloads vary between 795 and 1,245kg.

Minibus variants can carry up to eight passengers. The nine seats are equipped with three-point seatbelts. All seats can be removed to provide flexible accommodation and the seatbacks will fold flat onto the seats. A heater for the rear compartment comes as standard, while air conditioning is an option.

More comfortable seating is provided in the Shuttle, which will fit between the minibus and Caravelle. Versions are fully kitted out with side panelling, sun blinds on the side window and ISOFIX child seat fittings on the rear seats.

On the face of it, there is little change to the engines. Most versions will be diesel powered and, as before, there is a choice of 1.9 litre TDI or 2.5 litre TDI turbo-charged and intercooled engines. But all diesels are now fitted with electronic unit injectors, delivering very high injection pressures to help reduce emissions, as in VW’s passenger car range. There will be 86 and 104bhp variants of the 1.9 litre engine, driving the front wheels through a standard five-speed manual gearbox.

The 2.5 litre engine is shared with the Touareg 4x4 car. It is effectively half the V10 TDI engine offered in the Touareg and Phaeton models. There will be a choice of 130bhp or 174bhp versions, making the Transporter the most powerful van in its class. This engine will come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard.

Petrol power will come from either a two-litre 115bhp engine or a 3.2 litre V6 producing 235bhp. The V6 will only go into UK Caravelles, while the 2.0-litre petrol engine is doubtful for UK Transporters. The V6 is shared with the Touareg, Phaeton and Golf R32.

Five and six cylinder engines will also be available with six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Next year there will also be a four-wheel-drive option, tagged “4motion”.ABS and traction control will be standard equipment, while an ESP electronic stability programme will be optional on passenger carrying versions.


Modest player with a star product

Nissan launched the Primastar last September following the arrival of the 3.5 tonne GVW Interstar a few months before. Similarly, the Primastar has a familiar face, shared with the Vauxhall Vivaro and Renault Trafic. All three ranges are powered by Renault’s 1.9dCi diesel engine, which also powers many models in the Renault car range. Nissan offers the common rail engine in two power ratings, either 82PS, the standard engine for the 2,700kg GVW model, or 100PS, fitted to the heavier 2,900kg GVW models.

E or SE trim levels echo Nissan’s car range. All models come with unglazed rear doors opening to 180 degrees, a nearside sliding load door, six lashing rings mounted in the floor, a tubular bulkhead behind the driver’s seat, disc brakes all round, a single passenger seat and remote central locking. SE models gain a reversing alarm, full steel bulkhead behind the cab, burglar alarm, double passenger seat with centre three-point seatbelt, electric windows and mirrors.

Prices start at £12,185 (ex-VAT) for the SWB 2700 E model, rising to £14,315 (ex-VAT) for the LWB 2900 SE. Long wheelbase models were added to the Primastar range earlier this year. Our SE test van was fitted with a few extras, including ABS brakes (£400), air conditioning with heat reflecting windscreen (£650), in-dash CD player (£75) and satellite navigation (£745).

Like its Vauxhall and Renault cousins, the Primastar goes to the top of its class. The cabin offers a car-like driving position, a fine dashboard design with an abundance of storage space and good visibility thanks to the large screen, side windows and mirrors. The 100PS 1.9dCi engine is punchy, smooth and refined, while the six-speed gearbox (five-speed for 82PS models) offers relaxed motorway cruising with low fuel consumption.

With unglazed rear doors as standard, the reversing alarm is a real bonus and should help to reduce parking damage. There’s plenty of space for pallet loading between the rear wheel arches, while the low floor height makes manual loading easy too. I particularly like the ease with which the doors could be opened beyond 90 degrees. Just flip a catch to release the stays and open the doors wide. The stays are guided back into the doors automatically on closing.

Nissan may not be a big player in the CV market, but with products like the Primastar and its specialist business-to-business dealer network, it ought to see its market share grow.