- Attractive pricing
- Capable cargo carrier
- Pleasing fuel economy
- Uncomfortable cabin
- Noisy interior
- Unpleasant to drive
When General Motors offloaded Vauxhall, it ended up under the car of global automotive giant, Stellantis. That meant the old Movano — a joint venture product with Renault — had to be quickly replaced with an in-house product. Fortunately, Stellantis already had the Citroen Relay and Peugeot Boxer twins, and all that was needed to turn those into a Vauxhall was a box of new badges for the grille.
While it may be new to Vauxhall, being introduced to the range in 2021, the underlying van has been around for 16 years. To retain some popularity, Vauxhall has recently updated the trim levels and costs, making it more competitive on price. Gone are the Edition and Dynamic models, replaced by a single Prime trim level.
Frustratingly, this happened just after we tried the Edition specification. However, there were no mechanical changes, so the same 2.2-litre diesel engine, the same spacious if uninspiring cabin, and the same cavernous cargo area remain.
Space & Practicality
Four body lengths and three roof heights make the Movano a flexible choice. At the smaller end, the L1 model comes in at less than five metres long, so will fit in any regular parking space, although the roof height on the lowest model of 2.25m might exclude it from some multi-storey car parks. With 8m3 of cargo space, it’s an ideal city-centre option.
At the other extreme, the 6.36m long L4 model with the 2.76m high H3 roof can accommodate 17m3, making it a simply enormous cargo carrier. Load lengths range from around 2.5 metres to more than four metres, depending on the model.
Our L3H2 model offers a 13m3 load area and a 1,470kg payload limit. You;’ll find options from a low of 1,050kg to a high of 1,495 across the Movano range, depending on specification. A four-tonne van is available, increasing payload limits to a maximum of 1,790kg.
Access is via a 1.25m wide sliding side door (1.07m on the shortest L1 model) and a pair of rear doors that pivot to 180 degrees. A £320 option can increase that to 270 degrees, so the rear doors end up flat against the side of the van. Either way, a forklift will be able to slide a pallet into the rear without a problem.
Vauxhall also makes a glazed van available, as well as a crew cab, chassis cab and platform cab. This should provide access to a huge range of conversions and customisation options to businesses that need that flexibility.
Vauxhall has priced the Movano aggressively, undercutting most rivals — including its essentially identical siblings from Citroen and Peugeot. To add to the value offered, you can avoid being ‘white van man’ by opting for one of two shades of grey at no extra cost. More interesting colours cost extra, starting from £650, but it’s nice to see something other than plain white on offer.
Economy of 40.4mpg (for some reason, 0.3mpg better than the Citroen Relay and Peugeot Boxer) is very competitive, and our brief testing in the van over 48 hours suggests that it won’t be impossible to achieve. Of course, fully load the van with all of the 1,420kg available, and your results will fall some way short.
As with its sister vans, the Movano comes with a three-year or 100,000-mile warranty and 12 months of roadside assistance should you need immediate help. It’s possible to extend the cover for a couple more years, which is something a local dealer will be able to help out with.
Quality & Reliability
While the name has changed from Edition to Prime, little else has. It’s still surprisingly well equipped, with integrated navigation (albeit presented via a tiny 5.0-inch screen), air conditioning and cruise control, amongst other goodies.
All of that is housed in a dated dashboard that’s usable but far from pleasing to the eye. On a positive note, it’s great to see that there are tactile controls for the air conditioning and radio volume.
The dashboard-mounted gear lever means the floor is kept clear, giving the cabin a spacious feel. It’s a good size, too, so three can sit inside in relative comfort. You’ll all find plenty of space for your day-to-day birds and pieces, with a large overhead compartment, underseat storage and countless cubby holes and pockets.
Every large van from the Stellantis stable — the corporation behind Vauxhall, Citroen and Peugeot — seems to be fitted with its 2.2-litre diesel engine producing 120hp, and our vehicle is no different. There is a 120hp option available, and for those feeling a little flush and wanting a little more oomph, a 165hp choice can be made.
For most, 140hp will be plenty, backed up by 340Nm of torque for pulling all the weight. It’s surprisingly quick off the line, and can keep pace with most traffic on the road. Our van rarely had any significant cargo in it, but experience with the identical Citroen Relay shows that adding more weight to the back does blunt performance significantly.
There’s a frustration to driving the Movano, especially on the motorway or fast A-roads. The light steering is vague, especially around the centre, and the van tends to follow ruts in the road, leaving you constantly correcting the vehicle’s course. There’s a lot of noise in the cabin too, with road noise booming through from the back despite a full height metal bulkhead. For short hops, it’s okay, but long journeys soon get tiresome.
In town, it’s almost a pleasure. There’s good visibility front and side, and large door mirrors with an extra wide angle panel give good rearward visibility. A rear camera is available as a £650 option, too. And, while the light steering is frustrating at speed, it’s a positive boon in urban areas.
When a vehicle is presented as new, yet it’s seen service for more than a decade under another brand name, you know it won’t be the finest vehicle on the market.
However, Vauxhall has kept pricing very competitive, making it a good value option. Economy is strong, which will keep fuel costs low too, and some genuinely clever touches, such as sectional bumpers, help to keep running costs down. It’s also got a vast cargo area and can carry more payload than most rivals, making it a practical and economical option.
While it works well from a business perspective, it’s a shame that it falls so far behind more modern options for the driver.