The Vauxhall Movano is everything you'd expect from a large panel van - it's spacious, reliable & durable. While Vauxhall's small & medium vans platform share with the PSA Group vans, the large Movano doesn't. That's why we asked Vanarama Van Expert Tom Roberts his opinion on Vauxhall's "best of Britvan" large van.
Vauxhall is the last bastion of van manufacturing in the UK - in fact, all PSA Group (Citroen, Peugeot & Vauxhall) medium vans are built right here in the UK & share the same excellent van platform. The Vauxhall Movano large van, however, does not share a platform with any PSA Group van - it shares with the Renault Master - & is not made in the UK. Not that it matters.
I found the Movano to be a highly-flexible & practical large van with a powerful engine, comfy cabin & sleek profile. It's not as luxurious as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (but it doesn't try to be) & it's not as iconic as the Ford Transit (not that it wants to be). What it does do is provide an affordable, no-nonsense large van proposition for fleets & single-van companies - which is exactly what the van market needs. Some people want luxury & tech, others want durable functionality.
But First, A Bit Of History
Originally launched in 1998, the first Vauxhall Movano was a product of General Motors' association with Renault who launched the second generation of the Master at the same time. In 2002, the other party to the alliance, Nissan, launched the Interstar - & just like that 3 large vans hit the market that were all basically the same van. Available in a number of bodystyles & available in gross vehicle masses (GVMs) ranging from 2.8 to 3.5 tonnes, it was fitted with 1.9-litre, 2.2-litre & 2.5-litre diesel engines (because multiple engine sizes were all the rage back then).
The first revision to the Movano came in 2003, although this was really just an update to the front end & some cosmetic external & internal changes rather than a fully-fledged facelift. That came in 2010's facelift which introduced 2.3-litre diesel engines in various power outputs (ranging from 100PS to 146PS). Front & rear wheel drive was offered for the first time & 29 combinations of bodystyle could be ordered. Although the Renault Master (still sharing the Movano's platform) gained new grills & trim levels in 2014, the Movano remained mostly unchanged externally until 2019. While all this was going on, Nissan launched their version of essentially the same van, the NV400 in 2011.
The Vauxhall Movano Today
Fast forward to 2019 & the current model year Movano launched - a significant & thorough improvement on the old model. Externally, the van has experienced a complete redesign of its front end (making a clear statement that this is not a Renault Master) & a new cabin interior.
Under the bonnet are new 2.3-litre diesel engines - some featuring Bi-Turbo technology - which offer improved fuel economy & a smoother, quieter drive. Vauxhall has also added some of the latest safety & driver assistance tech to the latest Movano, which is available in panel van, double cab, minibus, chassis, crew & platform cab derivatives.
Trim Levels & Features
Digging through the information that relates to the 2021 year Movano, you'll see that it's only available in 1 trim level called 'Edition'. Simplicity, eh? So, let's see what it's packing - please note that anything you can add as an option on the Movano (i.e. doesn't come as standard) has been marked as such.
- Completely new dash design, which is nice.
- Fairly basic DAB radio with CD player, Bluetooth & USB. No multimedia screen (optional Navi 50 unit has Apple CarPlay & Android Auto on 7-inch screen with nav).
- 3 storage pockets in front doors, the largest holding a 1.5-litre bottle. 11-litre passenger glove box & an overhead storage shelf also present.
- Optional Convenience Pack includes mobile office facilities such as fold-down desk & underseat storage beneath the passenger seat.
- Steering wheel adjusts for height but not reach (which is a bit odd).
- Other cab enhancements include a nearside blind spot mirror in passenger sun visor & an adjustable driver seat with armrest.
- Automatic wipers & lights.
- Electrically adjustable & heated door mirrors.
- Electric windows.
- Remote central deadlocking.
- ESP with traction control.
- Side wind assist.
- Emergency brake assist.
- Electronic brakeforce distribution.
- Hill-start assist.
- Rear-view camera (option).
- Side blind spot alert (option).
- Permanent rear-view camera replacing the conventional mirror (option).
- All engines (2.3-litre diesel) benefit from BiTurbo & common rail technology offering high torque at low revs.
- Front wheel drive (FWD) engine power outputs are as follows: 135PS, 150PS & 180PS (Euro 6D TEMP).
- Rear wheel drive (RWD) engine power outputs are as follows: 130PS, 145PS & 165PS (EuroVid).
- 26-litre AdBlue tank capacity.
- 6-speed manual gearbox as standard.
- Tecshift automatic gearbox (electronically-controlled version of manual box) is optional.
- FWD versions available in L1, L2 & L3 wheelbases with H1, H2 & H3 roof heights.
- RWD versions offered as L3 or L4, H2 & H3 only.
- 2.8t, 3.3t & 3.5t (plus 4.5t option) GVMs available.
- Side loading door standard with twin side doors available as an option.
- Twin rear doors - 180-degrees opening standard, 270-degrees optional.
- Steel bulkhead.
- Fixed floor-mounted load restraint lashing eyes (L1 models x 6, L2/L3 models x 8, L4 models x 10).
- FWD maximum internal loading length of 3.7m, maximum internal height of 2.1m, maximum internal width of 1.7m & maximum internal load volume of 14.8 cubic metres.
- RWD maximum internal loading length of 4.3m, maximum internal height of 2m, maximum internal width of 1.7m & maximum internal load volume of 17 cubic metres.
- FWD payloads range from 920kg for the 2.8t L1H1 up to 1620kgs for the 3.5t L1H1.
- RWD payloads from 1037kg (3.5t L4H3) up to 1204kgs (3.5t L4H2) – 4.5t models not included.
- 150PS engine is the most economical with 48.5mpg Combined (NEDC) being quoted. RWD engine models seem substantially thirstier with a best figure of 34.8mpg.
- Lowest CO2 emissions are from the 150PS FWD engine, at a quoted 161-154g/km.
- The towing weight for all models is 2500kg.
As you can see, the Movano is a simple large van - 1 trim level & 1 engine size with different power outputs depending on what derivative you choose. It's not trying to compete with the top end of the large van market, because it doesn't need to. What it is trying to compete with, is any other affordable large van on the market.
Where the Vauxhall Movano succeeds is in offering a van that could suit anyone looking for a large van. It's big, it's practical & it's tough - that's all a large van needs to do well. Everything other vans might do better - like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter offering more tech in the cabin - is just icing on a cake (it makes it taste better, but ultimately it's still a cake).
So, that's where I end up. The Vauxhall Movano is a large van I'd recommend to anyone looking for a no-nonsense commercial vehicle that does exactly what you'd expect it to do. Bells & whistles are nice, but the basics mean more to the Movano. That's pretty refreshing, if you ask me.