With the small van market booming due to the ever-increasing number of couriers and delivery drivers on the road, read on as we take you through a selection of the most popular small vans out there for 2021.
Ford Transit Connect
The Ford Transit Connect is a well-rounded and impressive van, in keeping with the range of Ford light commercial vehicles. By some way, it is the best van in the segment to drive and offers fantastic volume capacity and payload. The interior is not to everyone’s taste however, with an over-supply of buttons which can be confusing for some. Despite this, overall, the cab is well designed and comfortable.
Unsurprisingly, given it’s a Ford, build quality is of the highest order, and the 1.5-litre engine offers a perfect engine for vans nipping around the city centres. There are options for an automatic as well as a 1 litre petrol engine, which is perfect for those with lighter loads, such as couriers or parcel deliveries.
The Peugeot Partner is worthy of standing alone, despite being almost identical to the Citroen Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo, not only because it looks markedly different, but also because Peugeot has also adapted its much vaunted i-Cockpit style to fit into the small van. In a van sector where the driver is most often the only occupant, and therefore the centre of all design focus, the presence of the i-Cockpit lifts the Partner above its siblings.
Sharing a platform with the Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo, the new Vauxhall Combo is one of the best vans currently available. It’s well specified for both safety and comfort, and is fantastic to drive, with the sweet spot of an economical engine and plenty of performance. Bundled-up option packages make it much simpler to select the correct Combo specification, and there are also options for an excellent automatic gearbox, and advanced traction models for those who demand a bit more from their drive.
The Citroen Berlingo sits very firmly at the top table of city vans, alongside the Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo. It consistently appears ahead of both the Peugeot and Vauxhall in the top 10 most popular (in terms of sales) vans in the United Kingdom. Whilst it’s obviously very subjective, in our eyes it’s the best looking of the three platform sharing vans, and certainly sits well with the rest of the Citroen van and passenger car range. It is an impressively dynamic drive as well as being filled to the gunnels with outstanding safety equipment.
The Volkswagen Caddy is one of the daddies of the small van sector. Despite close on a decade of production, the Caddy continues to impress, with high levels of popularity – helped, in part, by a nip & tuck facelift back in 2015. Key to the Caddy’s popularity is an excellent payload capacity, which is further enhanced if you choose for the larger, Maxi derivative, and an extremely smart interior design that still offers a premium feel. A suite of safety features, such as Front Assist that tells the driver if too close to something in front, are perfectly suited for town and city driving. Unsurprisingly, given it is a VW, the caddy also has one of the best automatic transmissions within the small van sector.
Toyota Proace City
The Toyota Proace City shows Toyota’s interest in, and commitment to the ever-expanding small van sector. Effectively, the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner or Vauxhall Combo in a (slightly) different outfit, the Toyota has proven credentials from its cousins that went before it. This heritage alone, marks the Proace City as one of the best small vans you can purchase.
The Proace offers fewer options than its cousins, however those it does offer have typical Toyota quality and build quality. It is a fantastic, responsive drive, and with outstanding warranty and servicing offers it delivers excellent peace of mind for owners or fleet managers.
Fiat Doblo Cargo
Benefitting from an interior facelift and engine update a few years back, the Fiat Doblo Cargo is a worthy contender within the small van sector. Arguably not the most attractive small van on the market, key to the Cargo’s offer is the outstanding payload. The Doblo was the first small van to hit the blue-ribband one-tonne payload measure and still sits pretty offering 1,005kg.
This third-generation Citroen Dispatch was introduced in 2016, fully redesigned from the ground up and based on the Powerful Modular Platform 2 (EMP2) that also underpins the new Peugeot Expert, Toyota Proace and 2019 Vauxhall Vivaro.
Offering an impressive range of technology, strong payload ratings and decent fuel economy, it is good to drive. In the 2020 Parkers Medium Van of the Year Award, it finished in the runner up position. But it does not have the largest load capacity, despite a choice of three body lengths, and the cab is outdone by the best competitors.
The model range was significantly enhanced in 2020 with the arrival of the all-electric, e-Dispatch model, that Citroen claim offers a 211 mile range.
The Renault Kangoo has been one of the biggest selling small vans in Europe for some time now, and with good reason. Whilst not as sexy as some of its competitors, the Kangoo is the pragmatist’s small van, hitting the sweet spot of practical and cost-effective ownership.
The latest Kangoo is still, to a large part based on the model Renault launched in 2008. The latest Euro-6 engines are much fresher than those that went before and the 1.5-litre diesel (dCi) is available in three different outputs of 75bhp, 89bhp and 108bhp which is enough to suit even the fussiest of drivers. And there is even the option of the all-electric Renault Kangoo ZE that uses a 60bhp AC electric motor. Purchasers can choose the Kangoo as a standard-length van or as a Maxi long-wheelbase, with the LWB model giving the option of a second row of seats to make a crew cab.
The Mercedes badge may turn heads but within the small van sector, it doesn’t necessarily set the Citan apart. Manufactured in Renault’s French Maubeuge Plant, the Citan is effectively a re-engineered Renault Kangoo rather than a bespoke designed and manufactured Mercedes product. The Citan runs on Renault engines, and its interior is more Renault than Mercedes in terms of quality grade. That said, it is still a Mercedes, and for the more discerning purchaser trying to project a certain image, that may well be enough to merit the slightly elevated price tag compared to the competition.
When you want extra guidance, feel free to talk to our specialist dealer partners. They supply thousands of vans every year and with all their experience they’ll always be happy to help. Alternatively, search for your latest van, here.