Vauxhall Movano (2010 - 2019) used car review

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

If size really matters, then you need a van that's really big. And this one is. But Vauxhall's second generation Movano, this Movano B-series model first launched in 2010, has more than just sheer size on its side. It was designed to take on the biggest guns in the large panel van class, with heavy payload capacities, clever convenience features and the choice of both front and rear wheel drive.

Models

Large-sized van (2.3 CDTi diesel)

History

Vauxhall has a long history of producing vans that British businesses like, one dating all the way back to 1931, though back then, the brand's LCVs carried Bedford badges. Since then, through the HA and CF models that sold in their thousands right to today's Combo and Vivaro vans, the Luton brand has continued to be a major player in the commercial market, in the early years of this century co-developing its products with Renault. This is the biggest of them, the Movano, analysed here in second generation 'Movano B'-series form.

Everything about this vehicle is big - except, its maker contends, the costs required to run it. Packing up a Movano is no small task either, given loading capacities of anywhere between 8 and 17m3 in standard van models. And the torquey 2.3-litre CDTi engine can haul big weights too - up to 3.0-tonnes, if you're really piling on the pounds. This model shared its design and all its engineering with Renault's Master and the Nissan NV400 and sold until 2019, when it was significantly updated. It's the earlier pre-facelift 2010-2019 versions of this model though, that we look at from the used buyer's perspective.

What You Get

As nuggets of useless information go, the news that the Griffin badge on the front grille of this Movano was, back in 2010, the largest that Vauxhall had applied to any model in its history is right up there. More important is the news that the chrome-trimmed front grille is smart, while a thick bumper adds aggression to the front end, curling up at the edges to protect the corners from knocks. The designers were also kind enough to cut steps into the bumper so that owners can get a leg-up when cleaning the windscreen. Side rubbing strips are a boon along the flanks too.

Inside, that extra cabin length means that there's reasonably comfortable room for three, though the centre seat passenger's space is rather narrow with knee room slightly compromised by the cup holders and storage provided by two centre-mounted bins. There isn't quite the same kind of soft touch, granite build quality you'd find in more expensive Volkswagen or Mercedes rivals, but fit and finish is certainly better than on the MK1 model and what the Movano lacks in tactile feel, it more than makes up for in practical touches. Both seat and wheel are height-adjustable and there's a minefield of storage options inside the Movano's cab (150 litres in total), from the usual door bins, overhead shelf, cup holders, chilled glove boxes and cubby holes to compartments for laptops and sunglasses, plus an optional clipboard that folds out of the dash for holding invoices, maps or delivery notes.

Not quite so neat is the positioning of the grab handle you grasp on entering the cab, stuck above the door pillar rather than being more naturally placed on the A-pillar. The overhead positioning of the digital tachograph slot (necessary for those venturing above 3.5 tonnes) isn't ideal either. Which shouldn't detract from the fact that overall, this is a beautifully thought out cabin. Highlights include optional touches like the huge, split storage area under the passenger seats, accessible simply by flipping up the cushions. Then there's the way the centre seat backrest folds down to create a table that uniquely swivels towards the driver. And the sat nav screen that folds out of the roof, incorporates real time traffic information to guide you round jams and includes MP3 and Bluetooth compatibility.

Of the four vehicle lengths, L1 and L2 are produced for front wheel drive customers, whilst the huge L4 is solely for rear-driven variants. It's the mid-range L3 body shape that'll probably suit most customers though and this comes in either layout. Depending on your choice between three body heights (H1, H2 and H3), that means cubic metre capacities that run from 8 to 14.9m3 for front wheel drive models and between 12.4 and 17.0m3 if you opt for rear wheel drive (though with a Luton conversion, you can push this up to as much as 22m3).

That kind of carriage capacity can mean a lot of weight, so it's just as well that an extra 4.5 tonne gross vehicle weight option was added into the top of this second generation model range, sitting above more familiar 2.8, 3.3 and 3.5-tonne variants. As a result, payload capacities can run from 994kg to as much as 2254kg.

At the business end, there are the usual twin side-hinged rear doors opening out to 180-degrees and which can optionally extend to 270-degrees. As for getting stuff in, well, the loading height is usefully low at 557mm (or as much as 724mm with rear wheel-drive) and there's a wide aperture of up to 1820mm in height and 1577mm in width once you've lumped your cargo up to floor level. Once inside, there's 1765mm of width, narrowing to 1380mm between the wheel boxes. Plus a maximum load area length of up to 4400mm.

Alternatively, there's a sliding side door, wider than it was on the previous generation model, offering an opening 1780mm high and as much as 1270mm wide on L2 variants and above, so euro pallets can be loaded in sideways: a sliding door on the opposite side was optional, but included on all models is a full width bulkhead to stop stuff sliding forward into the cab with you. Which is a scenario the numerous tie-down points are in any case there to prevent. Many models will have as many as 14 to choose from. A useful shelf above the cab area, accessible only from the load bay, is useful for tucking away lashing straps and other bits and pieces.

What You Pay

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What to Look For

These vans are pretty tough, but there are a few things you'll need to look out for. It's the usual advice with small vans to buy on condition rather than year and look for a van that has tended to have performed lightweight delivery duties rather than consistently butting up against its payload limits. We've heard reports of gearbox faults: listen hard for whining noises on your test drive. In terms of recalls, most relate to issues early in this Movano B model's production life: there was one in 2011 relating to faulty seat belts. And two others from the same period which sound quite serious; one stating 'rear axle may detach' and the other stating that 'rear wheel bearing may shear'. There's also another saying 'spare wheel may detach'. On older models, check that all of these have been actioned by a Vauxhall dealer. There've been a few issues with the electrics, so make sure that all the connectivity works properly - Bluetooth-linking and so on. Check for load bay scuffs and scratches. And insist on a fully stamped-up service history.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a Movano 2.3 CDTi - 2015)

Air filters are around £20-£33. Oil filters are around £8-£14. Front brake pads are around £27-£43; rears are about £27-£75. Rear brake discs are typically in the £80-£95 bracket. A fuel filter is about £10-£20. Wiper blades are around £11-£19. A headlamp is around £136. A tail lamp is around £63. A starter motor is in the £120 bracket. A radiator is in the £150-£233 bracket. A water pump kit is in the £37 bracket.

On the Road

A seat behind the wheel in this Movano is a much more comfortable place to be than it was in the MK1 model thanks to a cabin 5.7cms longer than that older design. The driving position on the 6-way adjustable seat is higher too, which along with revisions to the windscreen and side windows, gives you a commanding view ahead. Under the bonnet, the engine's the same whichever model you choose, a 2.3-litre CDTi diesel unit offering around 30Nm more across the board than the old Movano A model's 2.5-litre engine used to give. Plus you can choose between three engine outputs - 100, 125 or 146PS - and select between either front or rear wheel drive.

You'd go for rear wheel drive with its twin rear wheels on each side if you were planning on carrying larger loads, which is why the rwd option comes only with the taller H2 and H3 medium and tall roof body styles and the longer L3 and L4 medium and long wheelbases with their extended overhangs. Just as well then, that TCS traction control is standard and that the engines are a pretty willing bunch, even the entry-level 100PS unit offering 285Nm of punch through the 6-speed gearbox, a figure the top 145bhp variant extends to 350Nm, sufficient to haul a trailer grossing at 3.0 tonnes. That's also enough to deal with gross vehicle weights of either 2.8, 3.3, 3.5 or a whopping 4.5 tonnes, giving payload capacities than run between 994 and 2254kg, depending on the version you choose.

On the move, big exterior mirrors with a separate lower wide-angle section make manoeuvring easier around town. On the open road, though the gearbox could be slicker and the engine a little quieter, you're immediately impressed with this van's composure, though the ride over poor surfaces could be better. Rear wheel drive makes this vehicle especially manoeuvrable with a turning circle of just 13.6m curb to curb, compared to the minimum 15.7m you'll experience on FWD models. It's true that the steering is a little on the light side for motorway work, but you appreciate that when trying to thread this large vehicle through tight city streets.

Overall

This 'B'-series Movano was launched as the largest and most capable van that Vauxhall had ever brought us. Its greater space and higher weight limits meant that it could take bigger loads than any Griffin badged LCV ever had before, which in its bigger guises, could even make this Movano a realistic alternative to a small truck. Even the smaller versions though, will have more than enough capacity for most businesses.

Amongst this vehicle's large van rivals in the 2010-2019 period, few others can offer quite such a practical range of virtues and those that do struggle to match this model's sensible convenience features and low running costs. Whether you'd want a Movano over this vehicle's Renault Master design stablemate though, will likely come down to the deal you're offered and the proximity of your local dealer. Both are areas where Vauxhall is especially strong. Buy carefully here and you'll get strong value.

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