Verdict: Frugal engines, car-like refinement and a practical load area are key Vivaro attractions

Vauxhall, Vivaro, front

The new Vivaro is built at the Luton plant, so you could say it has real Brit appeal

THE Vauxhall Vivaro is a rebadged Renault Trafic right? Wrong! They may look the same but there are some significant differences between the two and Vauxhall was dead keen to tell us all about them at the launch in Luton.

The Trafic is made at Sandouville in France and features parts sourced from the Continent, whereas the Vivaro is made at the UK’s last remaining van plant at Luton and 40% of the parts come from the UK.So the new Vauxhall Vivaro carries a big made in Britain appeal.

So the new Vauxhall Vivaro carries a big made in Britain appeal.

Vauxhall has invested £185 million in the plant in readiness for this new van and expects to churn out 50,000 Vivaros in the first year of production alone. Some 52% of these vans are expected to be exported.

Brand manager Steve Bryant told us: “We started building the Vivaro at Luton in 2001 and since then nearly a million vehicles have been made here. Building the Vivaro here in the UK is worth £140 million a year for the UK economy as it means 1,200 jobs and 40% of the parts are sourced within a 100-mile radius of the Luton plant.

“Our investment in the plant means we will be offering a range of bespoke fleet conversions, which means they will all be warrantied in one under the Vauxhall banner.”

That could be an important point, especially for anyone who has bought a van in the past and had it converted later, only to find that when there is a warranty problem, they get passed from manufacturer to converter and back again (several times!) – see our news story.

Vauxhall, Vivaro, van

The Vivaro looks more similar to the outgoing van from the back.

The van has a new exterior (at the front at least), a totally redesigned cab and dash and new engines.

There are also a host of really good ideas on board such as the cab turning into a mobile office, a hi-tech system in which the van can link up with a driver’s tablet or smartphone and special systems which enhance the van’s load carrying capacity, such as a flap in the bulkhead which means that loads up to four metres in length can be carried.

Gone is that familiar lump in the roof of the cab. It was there originally to give the driver and passengers extra headroom but there is no need for it now as the seat has been dropped by 36mm and the steering wheel put at a sharper angle to give the feel of an MPV rather than a commercial vehicle.

The old 2.0-litre common rail diesel units have been consigned to history, to be replaced by a more diminutive 1.6-litre unit which is around 5.8% more economical than the old units.

Four options are available, two with a single turbocharger two with twin turbo.

The singles have power outputs of 90bhp and 115bhp while the twins offer 120bhp and 140bhp. The more powerful units work by having a first low inertia turbo that gives high torque at low speeds, meaning swift getaway even with full loads on board.

The second turbo cuts in at higher revs. These engines also have standard stop-start units which can save up to 15% on fuel on urban usage.

Fuel economy, meanwhile, is 40.3-47.9mpg while CO2 outputs range from 155g/km to 185g/km. Torque figures improve too and range from 260-340Nm.