The only van Britain now builds is this one, Vauxhall's Luton-made third generation Vivaro. It's a medium-sized Transit Custom and Volkswagen Transporter LCV rival that aims to build on the huge success of its predecessor with smarter looks, extra efficiency and plenty of technology. Like its PSA Group design stablemates, it's also easier to live with and nicer to drive. It is, in short, a contender that potential buyers in this segment can't ignore.
This time round, there's a choice of 1.5 or 2.0-litre diesels. The 1.5 comes in 100PS or 120PS outputs but these units are poorer than the old model's 1.6-litre diesel powerplants in terms of their ability to take heavy payloads. Which means that if you habitually carry heavier loads or engage in longer trips, you'll want to ignore it and plump for the 2.0-litre Turbo D option, which comes in 120PS, 150PS or 180PS guises. The 2.0-litre models might end up being more economical too, because their higher capacity and greater torque means that you'll not need to thrash them about so often.
All models use a 6-speed manual gearbox, expect the top 180PS derivative which gets an 8-speed auto as standard. Top-spec variants get camera-driven kit like speed limit recognition, lane departure warning, Side Blind Spot Alert and Driver Attention Alert systems. There's also a clever 'Intelligent Speed adaptation' system that enables you to maintain a constant speed at a cruise.
The main visual change is the shorter bonnet of this MK3 model's more appealing nose. The third generation design is shorter and narrower than its predecessor and, as before, is offered in two lengths - 'L1' form (39mm shorter than before) or 'L2' (89mm shorter). Previously the longer version had a longer wheelbase. Now, it just features extended bodywork behind the rear axle, which makes the 'L2' 350mm longer than the 'L1'. You don't now get a high-roof option either, but the standard model is a little taller than before.
Inside, there's a lower, more car-like seating position with plenty of seat and wheel adjustment. As usual in this class, a three-person bench seat is fitted and there's a bulkhead flap so that longer items can be pushed through from the cargo area. The middle part of the seat folds down to create a table. The dashboard is almost identical to that you'll find in the Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota versions of this design, which means that most functions are on the central touchscreen, though the climate controls are separated out below.
In a medium range market where there really isn't that much to choose between the very best panel vans, buying decisions often come down to very small differences. If you've an LCV brand, the more of these you can build into your product, the better placed it will be. And on that basis, this third generation Vivaro is very well placed indeed.
Of course, potential Vivaro customers convinced by Vauxhall's proposition will need to remember that in a rival Peugeot Expert, Citroen Dispatch or Toyota Proace, they could have pretty much exactly the same product with a different badge. It's at that point though that the power of Vauxhall's huge UK dealer network might well sway the decision this Luton brand's way. That and the fact in buying this vehicle, you're supporting its British build. Another small but significant difference you see. But maybe perhaps in this case, a crucial one.Click here to find out more about our Vauxhall Vivaro range