The very first edition of this well-known van remained on sale for 13 years, so it’s no surprise that Vauxhall has stuck with the same saleable formula for its successor… with a few upgrades, of course. Danni Bagnall explains.

The Vauxhall Vivaro is about as British as they come; built in Luton, with a good chunk of its parts also sourced here, so that ‘Made in Britain’ badge placed lovingly above the engine badging to the rear doesn’t seem so silly now does it?!

To the outside, it’s a good-looking van… without the graphics. When it was delivered, my jaw hit the floor. And, no, not in awe. The problem I have is if it didn’t have those graphics on it, it’d be a great looking van. It’s got some really nice lines and the front is seriously impressive – one of the best in the market I’d say. But the 90s-reminisent tribal vibes I get from this are somewhat disturbing… yes, I’m ashamed to say I have some tribal branding on my body; I applaud any of you 30-odds out there that didn’t get caught up in the tribal craze of the late ‘90s / early ‘00s.

Whether you think the graphics are good or bad, they catch your eye on the road. They certainly make a statement – I had one fellow Vivaro driver nod his head at me when passing. Vauxhall has clearly tried to target the people that want a little more from their van, not just your boring work horse, and that’s more than fine. The black 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, for example, look great against the Flame Red paint…

Anyway, enough of the graphics. In a way of opening the model up to a wider market – much like many of its rivals – the Vivaro is available in a choice of sizes; two height options, two length options, double cab, combi and platform cab. Our test model was the double cab. Up front you get a double passenger seat as standard and there’s actually ample leg room for whoever is more often than not unlucky enough to be on the front middle seat. Well done Vauxhall for the high-mounted gearstick. The rear bench is also pretty good, fitting three adults very comfortably indeed. Full load space capacity comes in at 4.0m3, and there’s a 2423mm max length at load floor, and a payload of 970kg. All versions can accommodate three Euro pallets.

Our double cab L2H1 2900 is Vauxhall’s current top-spec Vivaro and thus is only available with the 145bhp 1.6CDTi BiTurbo diesel engine. However, the range also includes a 125bhp variant of the same engine, as well as a 95bhp and 120bhp 1.6-litre single-turbo. Our model seems to pull well at lower speeds, making hauling heavy loads – such as an entire kitchen, complete with worktops and appliances – an easy job.

Now, if you’re in the market for a van, you may well know that other rivals do larger displacement. They – whoever they are – say that there’s no replacement for displacement. Well, apparently there is… and that’s a BiTurbo. The 1.6-litre units do not affect the Vauxhall’s performance in a negative way, not in the slightest. And it’s the overall drive that impresses most. It’s comfortable, even at high speeds, and it’s quiet, too. Even with its smaller diesel unit, it quietens down even at higher motorway speeds. It gets start stop technology, further helping with its frugality. Its responsive under acceleration, as well as having good stopping power and its steering is relatively direct, even if on the slightly heavier side. It appears well poised through some of the more bendy roads of Hertfordshire. The fact that you sit rather central in the cab to the pedals makes light work of gear changes, with the manual box operating smoothly.

Looking round the cabin you’ll see that overall quality is good; plastics don’t look particularly cheap and the infotainment system is pretty darn brilliant. As standard, you’d get the NAVI 50 which features satnav, 7-inch colour touchscreen, DAB radio, aux-in, USB and Bluetooth. Ours got the £1272 option of NAVI 80 that offers added smartphone connectivity.

Storage is also good with closable cubby holes to the dashboard and middle seat. Door pockets are set pretty low, but this isn’t generally anything unusual for a van. Cleverly, there’s a huge mirror on the passenger sun visor – this mirror isn’t just a vanity mirror, it enables the driver to see into the blind spot on that side. Very clever, indeed.

On our test model specifically, standard equipment includes the likes of body-colour front and rear bumpers, side protection mouldings, exterior mirror housings and rear light cluster surrounds, as well as cruise control with speed limiter, rear parking distance sensors – our test model got the £295 option of rear view camera – and LED daytime running lights.

The basic version still offers a decent level of equipment, though, with digital radio, Bluetooth, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, the wide-angle blind-spot mirror and a driver’s seat that can be adjusted in a variety of directions all standard.

The most economical of the Vivaro range is the lower-powered version (125bhp) of the twin turbo engine, with a combined mpg of 47, while CO2 emissions come in at 155g/km. Our test variant sees a combined fuel economy of 44.8mpg, which isn’t wildly different. Its start stop technology has no doubt further helped with its frugality; a feature offered on all engine but the 120bhp variant. Put these figures into use, though, and the Vivaro turns into a pretty economical van. Annual VED is currently at £240. The added ‘Eco’ button will help on long haul journeys or journeys where you’re not in a hurry. Bear in mind that this feature dulls the throttle response somewhat. It gets a four-year warranty – or 100,000 miles – a warranty that is very competitive indeed in its market.

It’s not equipped with all things safety, which may be one of the reasons it was only awarded a three-star Euro NCAP rating. Many of its rivals are certainly a little ahead in the safety department. However, it does get emergency braking assist and hill start assist. It also gets a steel bulkhead as standard. You can go to town on any optional safety extras, though.

It drives well, features ample space, a great level of technology and some nice materials. If you’re in the market for a van, I’d be surprised if the Vauxhall Vivaro wasn’t in your shortlist.

Contact our leasing, contract hire and fleet management team if you’re interested in the rental of one or more Vauxhall Vivaro vans for your business.