Commercial catch-up

The Commercial Vehicle Show, held at the NEC in Birmingham, gave the chance to catch up on the latest developments in pick-up trucks, vans and light commercial vehicles. Geoff Ashcroft reports.


FORD’s sixth generation Transit range, priced from £13,000, brings a host of extensive improvements including new interior and exterior styling and 2.2 and 2.4 litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engines. Internally, there is a new dashboard, revised instruments, switches and steering wheel, while innovative storage provides a convenient workplace. The gear lever has been moved up to the dashboard, giving a completely clear floor area from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side for walk through access. A two-tone instrument panel and higher-grade cloth trim complete the changes.


THE second most renowned van in Britain, the Vauxhall Astravan, moves into its fifth generation following the introduction of the revised Astra car, on which it is based. There are 1.3, 1.7 and 1.9 turbo diesels, packing 90, 100 and 120hp, with six-speed manual only on the smaller two engines – the 1.9 can be equipped with an optional auto box. The new Astravan has a 9mm longer wheelbase plus additional interior space in the cabin and load bay. The van’s floor is 79mm longer and 6mm wider than in the model it replaces, and the overall payload has been increased to 650kgs.


This extra long body combined with a super-high roof option, means the suitability of Mercedes’ new Sprinter van as a mobile workshop has just got better. There are 1,000 basic variants of the new Sprinter, says the firm, given the choices in length, roof height, body style and engines now available. Standard specification is high, says the firm – remote central locking, electric windows, six speed transmission, driver’s airbag, wide-angle mirrors and adaptive electronic stability programme are all included. Euro 4 emissions compliant diesel engines range from a 2.2-litre, 88hp four-pot up to a 184hp 3.0-litre V6 with 400Nm of torque.


The distinctively styled Crafter is VW’s replacement for the LT and comes with a choice of four- and five-cylinder engines rated from 88-163hp, combined with either six-speed manual or Shiftmatic, the firm’s automated manual gearbox. A dash-mounted gearlever frees up cabin space, while interior appointments include electric windows, coat hooks on the B-posts, and a generous level of storage area for documents, maps and drinks bottles. Soft-touch, durable materials and trim are used throughout, to give Crafter car-like levels of comfort and finish.


MITSUBISHI’S prototype tipper concept was aired at the CV Show, and is based on the latest single cab variant of the new L200 pick-up truck. While the payload is yet to be confirmed, the company is confident it will exceed one tonne, and load space measures 2.3m in length and 1.65m wide. An electro-hydraulic power pack is used to raise and lower the steel tipper deck from its sub-frame – all of which are powder-coated. Estimated to cost £16,999, the single cab L200 tipper could soon be joined by a club cab version, offering more in-cab space.


TOYOTA’S recently over-hauled Hilux pick-up is to get more power later in the year – the old 102hp D4-D engine will be replaced. Staying initially with the 2.5-litre four-cylinder format, but with the addition of intercooling, Japanese engineers have been able to coax around 130hp from the D4-D engine. But there is talk of a larger capacity, 3.0 litre version to compete with those obtained through personal imports channels. Still to be confirmed, the 3.0 litre engine offers power in the 175hp sector, to compete with the likes of Nissan’s Navara. If it does come, it’ll be January 2007, says Toyota GB.


LDV’s Platinum range includes alloy wheels, metallic paint, air conditioning, privacy glass, steel bulkhead, electric windows and mirrors, plus a CD player. Further enhancements can be bought, such as the Safety and Security pack (£550), which includes an adjustable driver’s seat, anti-lock brakes, passenger airbag (driver’s airbag is standard), perimetric alarm and front fog lamps. An adjustable driver’s seat is also part of the Professional Trade Pack (£450), which includes Hexagrip flooring, a multi-wall lining kit and rear step. The Maxus range has a non-transferable, 100,000-mile, five-year warranty.


CITROEN has added an enhanced traction version of its Berlingo 600kg van to its range, called the XTR+. The French manufacturer has opted for a limited slip differential (LSD) for the front-wheel drive, 90hp van that requires no intervention from the driver. Using a mechanical multi-plate clutch, the LSD simply channels 25 per cent of available torque to the wheel with the most grip. The Berlingo XTR+ comes with larger diameter 15in mud and snow tyres that replace the standard 14in rubber, underbody skid plates and 40mm of additional ground clearance over the standard van. The Berlingo XTR+ costs £12,045.


NOT just any old Navara, but this heavily blinged, Monster version was centre-stage on the Nissan stand. Based on the Frontier – the firm’s US version of the Navara pick-up with a 265hp 4.0-litre V6 petrol engine taken from the Pathfinder 4x4 range – the Monster Navara features a custom-made grille guard with winch mount and skidplate, custom-built front and rear wings, special exhaust system, and remote bypass shocks added to a custom-built suspension system. Riding on 36-inch BF Goodrich Baja TA race tyres, the specially-built truck still has room in the rear for a wet sheepdog and a few bales of hay. And a 12-speaker surround sound stereo system with three amplifiers, and a flip-up, in-dash LCD monitor that can play DVD’s will entertain occupants on those trips to market.


FORD’S redesigned Ranger made its appearance at the show, offering a new interior, more power and a redesigned exterior. Sticking with a 2.5-litre engine and five-speed manual transmission, the firm has upped power from the previous model’s 109hp to 143hp with the help of common-rail injection, with 330Nm of torque available at 1,800rpm. Ranger now offers a 3 tonne towing capacity and a larger load area, and is still being offered in double cab, super cab and two-seat cab variants. Practicality has been enhanced – a pull-out tray table can be found in the glovebox, while a two-bin centre console offers the capacity for 10 compact discs.

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