Vauxhall Vivaro (2014 - 2019) used car review

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

The second generation version of Vauxhall's British-built Vivaro van, launched in 2014, was a medium-sized Transit Custom and Volkswagen Transporter LCV rival that aimed to offer smart looks, decent efficiency and plenty of technology for its era. Like its design stablemate Renault's Trafic, it's also easy to live with and nice to drive. It is, in short, a contender that potential used van buyers in this segment can't ignore.

Models

Mid-sized van (1.6 CDTi diesel)

History

Buy British. It's a plea that has an appealing ring to it but usually requires a certain level of sacrifice or compromise. Vauxhall though, reckoned back in 2014 that neither of these things would be needed from owners of this second generation Vivaro van. This one had a big job on to make good on its glossy brochure promises if it was to face down direct medium-sized van rivals as talented as Ford's Transit Custom, Volkswagen's Transporter, Mercedes' Vito and the shared design marketed as either a Peugeot Expert, a Citroen Dispatch or a Fiat Scudo. An even tougher challenge for Vauxhall lay in differentiating this product from its near-identical design stablemate, Renault's Trafic.

Your selection between this vehicle and its Renault counterpart on the used market may come down to deals and personal preference but if Vauxhall's claims for this MK2 Vivaro model are correct, then you could find yourself choosing this design over other market sector rivals for more concrete reasons. The downsized 1.6-litre diesel engines look impressively clean and frugal, the large load area may be bigger than you expect and the infotainment provision is very competitive. This MK2 model sold until mid-2019, when an all-new PSA-engined MK3 Vivaro was launched.

What You Get

It's mainly only the front panels that differentiate a Vivaro from a Renault Trafic - things like the bonnet, the grille, the bumper and a more distinctively styled pair of headlights presented in high-gloss black mouldings with embedded chrome accents that are supposed to create a jewel-like effect. Inside, the style and switchgear really is all-Renault. Especially the instrument cluster with its oval centre digital read-out and flanking round rev counter and fuel gauges. There's a standard 3-person front bench of course, with the middle berth quite cramped. If you've found yourself a model with the optional 'mobile office'-style folding front seat, you'll find that most of the time, you won't be using this space for seating anyway. Fold it down and you've got yourself a workable desk surface with a (rather flimsy-feeling) clipboard attachment and ample space for a laptop you can quickly link into the various infotainment technology features on offer via a 7-inch colour touchscreen.

Whichever of the two body lengths you choose, L1 or L2, you'll get 100mm more interior storage length than the first generation Vivaro model could offer, despite the fact that this van shares its predecessor's exact same wheelbase. Most original buyers specified the option of a neat FlexCargo bulkhead that allows longer items like ladders or planks of wood to be poked right through into the cab. Ultimately, it's a crucial feature because it could make it unnecessary for you to pay more for an L2 long wheelbase Vivaro model. After all, with the FlexCargo hatch fully open, the standard L1 variant's total interior load length is already pretty impressive, able to increase from the standard 2,537mm cargo bay total to as much as 3,750mm. If you do go for the long wheelbase L2 model, you'll find that the standard cargo bay length will rise from 2,937mm to 4,150mm. Your choice between these two bodystyles will of course have a huge impact on your potential total carriage capacity. A short wheelbase low roof height L1H1 Vivaro model can manage a 5.2m3 total - but that can rise to as much as 8.6m3 in a long wheelbase high roof L2H2 variant.

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. There've been a few issues with the infotainment screen, so make sure that all the connectivity there 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 Vivaro 1.6 CDTi - 2015)

Air filters are around £25. Oil filters are around £14. Front brake pads are around £46; rears are about £30. Front brake discs are typically £82 and rears about £140. A fuel filter is about £45. Wiper blades are around £8-£13. A headlamp lamp bulb is around £3. A starter motor is in the £458-£572 bracket. A thermostat is around £90. A clutch kit is in the £320 bracket.

On the Road

So, what do we have here? A lower-capacity range of engines powering a higher-capacity range of vans. It doesn't sound like a particularly great idea on paper, but fortunately makes a lot of sense in this Vivaro in practice. That's because the powerplant in question is the brand's well-regarded 1.6-litre CDTi so-called 'whisper diesel', a unit quite up to the task of effectively replacing the noisy old-tech 2.0-litre diesels used in this model's predecessor. Essentially, this engine comes in two forms, with either single or BiTurbo applications, depending on how much day-to-day pulling power your business will realistically require.

Overall

In a medium range market where there really isn't that much to choose between the very best panel vans, buying decisions often come down to very small differences. If you've an LCV brand, the more of these you can build into your product, the better placed it will be. And on that basis, this second generation Vivaro is very well placed indeed.

We're most taken by the careful touches: the FlexCargo loading hatch that lets you poke long items into the cab. The 'Eco Mode driving guide' system that makes it easy to lower your running costs. The Mobile Office package with its folding front seat. The Intellilink infotainment cleverness. And the wide-angle passenger sun visor mirror that helps when reversing. Though we've seen some of these things before in other LCV products, they've been delivered here with a greater level of thought and thoroughness that operators will like.

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