Movano and cargo bikes
Movano and cargo bikes
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Vauxhall Movano 3500 2.3 CDTi (145PS) Bi-Turbo L3H2 S/S Euro 6

Van of the YearTHIS year the award-winning Vauxhall Movano kept its Best Heavy Van title, pipping its nearest rival the Citroen Relay in the 2017 Business Van of the Year awards for the second year.

Richard Lofthouse put it through its paces with a hectic day of moving and a nifty bit of logistics.

Starting out from a central London base at dark-o-clock, I slipped the snickety (occasionally clunky between first and second) gear lever into first and drove off into traffic that seems to clog up no matter how early you leave and especially around Finsbury Park.

Sympathy to all the other tradespeople stuck in that mess every single day, for want of better traffic light management.

Vauxhall Movano
Best Heavy Van

The first thing I liked about the Movano was the touch screen infotainment system. When ‘off’ it still displays the time, big and clear and simple.

Love that detail, even if I hate watching the minutes slip away while going nowhere fast.

Eventually on the A40, I began to appreciate the broad band of torque achieved from a double turbo set-up putting out a more than acceptable 360Nm of torque at just 1,500 rpm, exactly what you need with a big panel van of this sort.

Vauxhall provide a slightly more powerful option, but I can see why this 145PS powerplant is the winner: you simply don’t need any more. It’s light years ahead of previous generations of vans and easily keeps its own with private cars.

As the A40 gave way to the M40 and we got past the dreaded M25 slip road jam, the drivetrain came into its own. You can change up from 4th to 6th in one go and settle into an easy cruise at the national limit.

Movano, it has to be said, flunked the Costa test even while the driver’s door amply accommodates a two-litre bottle of Coke

Anything up to the limit is a comfort zone; beyond that the steering fidgets as wind buffeting starts to compete with tracking, and fuel economy deteriorates, as you might expect. After a quick squirt on a private road, accompanied by too much wind roar around the wing mirrors, I settled back to the limit and enjoyed the ride height and commanding view out.

From the Movano’s driver seat, you tower over crossovers such as a Range Rover Evoque while still peering over the roof of a full size Range Rover.

It’s a big, long van right up there in the Crafter/Master/Sprinter/Relay class. The panoramic view of the Movano’s windscreen is second to none, while the touch screen works crisply and the DAB radio is great, even though you quickly reach the limits of the speakers when turning up Howard Jones’ 1983 ‘What is Love’ (is there a better tribute to the 80s than that?).

While there are loads of cubby holes, not all are equally useful. In order to give the middle bench-seat a bit of legroom (not much mind you), Vauxhall have limited the double binnacle storage that projects out of the dash.

Vauxhall Movano
The Costa cup test

The top binnacle contains two cup holders but they are next to useless owing to an insufficient aperture. I stopped at the Beaconsfield Services and the Movano, it has to be said, flunked the Costa test even while the driver’s door amply accommodates a two-litre bottle of Coke. Somehow, Vauxhall should revisit this crucial bit of the cabin at the re-design.

On arrival in Oxford I loaded up a few boxes of books for an office move – altogether no more than a speck within the vast cavern that is the load bay of this great van. Then I went on to perform the main job, which was to help friend and founder of Pedal & Post, Chris Benton to relocate a broken cargo bike for servicing.

In lots of ways his enterprise is a glimpse into the future of logistics. The Movano and its brethren take a gazillion home parcels from, say, a Yodel warehouse, to a depot on the edge of a traffic-choked city like Oxford.

From there, the so-called ‘last mile delivery’ is not performed by the van but by a fleet of cargo bicycles ridden by brilliantly fit young folk.

This is already happening in cities like Cambridge, Oxford and Cardiff, and as electrification combines with the power of Amazon Prime it’s just going to get bigger and bigger, alongside stricter regulation of diesel power even if the Euro 6 standard – shared here by the Movano – is a big improvement over past regimes.

As you can see below, the Movano’s load bay is so vast that it swallowed an 8Freight cargo bike and rider. Boasting 13 cubic metres, it could have swallowed a couple more with ease, which is amazing when you look at how long and big an 8Freight is.

With the cargo dropped off, I returned to London. The Movano accomplished all its jobs with ease. The one gizmo I’d have welcomed was a reversing camera additional to the invaluable parking sensors. At over six metres in length it’s a big beast to reverse. Other than that it’s a fine addition to UK PLC and worthy of its crown. Just get the cup holders right and it’d be all but perfect.

Vauxhall Movano
Movano with cargo bike on board



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