Professional Builder attends the launch of the new Vauxhall Vivaro in Luton.
They have a world leading team alright, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to extend to the football pitch!
That much became clear following the official UK launch of the new Vauxhall Vivaro in Luton, where just a few weeks earlier the proud sponsors had waved the England players off with the hopes of the nation ringing in their ears.
That ended all too soon, of course, with an ignominious return to these shores, but for the UK’s only remaining light vehicle manufacturing plant, there is clearly no place like home.
The £185 million pound investment in manufacturing facilities, tooling and special equipment has secured 1,200 production jobs over the next ten years, plus thousands of others employed with a number of local Bedfordshire suppliers.
As Tim Tozner, Vauxhall’s chairman and managing director confirmed: “I’m very proud of the men and woman who are building this vehicle to world class levels of quality and productivity. Our customers will be delighted with the new Vivaro. It offers the comfort and design of a passenger car, but with class leading practicality, improved cargo dimensions and excellent payload capacity.”
Production of the Vivaro began in Luton in 2001, with almost one million vans built since then. A mid cycle enhancement went into production in 2006 and the vehicle has continued to prove extremely popular with a variety of end users despite its, in vehicle terms, “old age”. This second generation version is the result of extensive research amongst existing Vivaro drivers to find out what they wanted from the new van. The answer was a resounding: “For it to be even more car-like to use.”
To this end the interior is significantly improved, with a durable and solid finish and plenty of useful touches, such as built-in tablet and mobile phone cradle, a laptop storage bin and plenty of cubby holes. The emphasis is on creating a mobile office and a good deal of thought has clearly been given to the daily needs of busy tradespeople.
The driving position is very good with plenty of small but subtle adjustments possible and the improved mirrors reduce the stress of trying to manoeuver in tight spots. One really useful feature is a wide angled mirror built into the passenger sun visor, which comes into its own at blind junctions. To make life a little easier, hill start is standard and the large digital speedometer should keep you on the right side of the law!
At the front end it is given a bold sharpened design with a large grill and flowing blade side feature in keeping with the Vauxhall family, although the overall profile is similar to the outgoing model, which means a near identical cargo layout. We are told this is deliberate, as previous owners can transfer any racking or accessories straight to the new version.
As before it has a wide floor and near vertical side, although the load area is slightly longer, by 100mm, while the overall cargo capacity has been increased. Plumbers and electricians in particular will certainly appreciate the introduction of a Flexcargo bulkhead which allows longer items, such as pipes, conduits and even planks of wood, to be carried without having the rear doors open.
Neat hatches in the base of the bulkhead and below the front bench seat allow items up to 4.15m to be loaded through into the passenger foot well.
If there is a need to carry overhanging cargo, the rear doors have been enhanced and can now be locked separately. Load volumes vary from 5.2m3 and 8.6m3, with a choice of two lengths and two heights and there are plenty of floor and sidewall mounted lashing eyes provided.
Out of sight, but perhaps the most significant changes are reserved for under the bonnet with an all-new 1.6litre diesel engine powering the new Vivaro. This may be smaller than the 2.0litre offered with the old version but, according to Vauxhall, it not only provides the same power but has more torque and better fuel economy.
We also had to agree with them that another advantage of the new engine is a smother and noticeably quieter ride, both empty and fully laden, than previous models we have tested. Four versions are offered, starting with a 90PS version offering the best official economy of 47.9mpg, moving up to a distinctly sprightly twin-turbo charged model with either model – 120ps or 140PS. An 80 litre fuel tank gives the Vivaro an impressive theoretical range of more than 800 miles.
All this extra refinement clearly comes at a price then? Well, actually no, because the new vehicle is being offered at a starting price of £450 less than its predecessor, at around £18,000. For Vauxhall and Vivaro the time has clearly never been better than to well and truly “home” in on a buoyant LCV market.