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We’ve driven the long wheelbase version of the Proace, with mid-range power and 1212kg carrying capacity

Toyota Proace L128

What is it?

Anyone who, like me, remembers the heady days when the Toyota Hiace first appeared in the UK in 1983 will have watched with a certain sadness as the cutting edge design and the pin-sharp handling was gradually matched and surpassed by the rivals.

Then in 2012, the poor old Hiace was finally consigned to the great van scrapyard the sky, succumbing, unloved, like some worn-out old granny in a care home.

The news earlier this year that Toyota was about to launch a new van had us all ears, anticipating another blast of innovation and dashing style such as was seen all those years ago.

To be truthful we were slightly disappointed to discover that the new Proace was in fact a rebadged Peugeot Expert, which is also badged as the Citroen Dispatch and Fiat Scudo – the design of which dates back to early 2007.

Side and rear access to the generous 6 cubic metre load area. Ply-lining will set you back an additional £200

But times are hard and most manufacturers nowadays are baulking at paying out millions of pounds to develop a model of their own, so maybe we can’t be too tough on Toyota.

And it does mean that if you want to buy some cars and vans – and maybe the odd 4×4 off-roader too – you can now ankle round to the nearest Toyota dealer and buy them all in one hit.

So what exactly does the Toyota Proace van have to offer? Both long and short wheelbase models are up for grabs, along with standard and high roof variants.

Under the bonnet goes either a 1.6-litre turbodiesel powerplant offering 90bhp or a 2.0-litre version with either 126bhp or 163bhp, in line with the Expert, Dispatch and Scudo. There is also a crew-van version on the long wheelbase chassis.

Our test vehicle is the long wheelbase standard roof model offering the middle-powered 126bhp engine and with a load capacity of six cubic metres and payload of 1212kg.

Standard specification is high on the Toyota Proace and includes Electronic Stability Program (ESP) which helps prevent sideway skids, air-conditoning, bulkhead, twin side sliding doors, Bluetooth connectivity, electric windows, deadlocks, a vehicle alarm and a five-year 100,000 mile warranty. Ex-VAT price is £20,279.

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