Expert Car Picks: What's the best clean van on the market?
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With all this talk about Clean Car rebates and fees, we’ve delved into the commercial side of vans to see what’s clean and possibly a little green in the world of enclosed cargo.
With NZ’s number one van, Toyota’s Hiace, dominating the market, there are a number of different makes and models that offer great packages in their own right and way, and some that are a little more eco than others, so we’ve scoured the new car lists to find out what we’d typically consider buying, plus a few other suggestions as well.
So read our opinions, and if you agree or disagree, vote for your van pick, below.
Andrew: Volkswagen Transporter
Just like the Golf GTI is the staple of the hot hatch world, I’d argue that Volkswagen’s iconic Transporter is a staple of the van segment.
Just recently, I was lucky enough to get my hands on the new T6.1 for a week while I moved into a new place. And while this mid-cycle update hasn’t changed much on the outside, a lot is different inside and underneath.
Starting with the basics, it still uses a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine, and power is sent to the front wheels as standard. It’s one of the only VW models that can still be had with a manual transmission, but if you go with this over the DSG unit, you miss out on the option to add the 4MOTION all-wheel drive system.
In terms of driver assistance, the 6.1 update saw VW throw the whole kit and caboodle at the van, with an array of systems now available. On the Trendline models, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Change Assist, and Park distance control are now available. Electronic stability control and forward collision warning is standard across the range.
Moving inside, the 6.1 update saw the Transporter get the same interior as the rest of Volkswagen’s range, with the touchscreen display and multi-function steering wheel that we’ve come to love. The cabin can also be option in a three-seat bench configuration, which is cool, but things get little cozy to say the least.
In terms of cargo space, there’s a lot of it, and the optional rubber floor covering is a life-saver when it comes to securing things without rachet straps on hand.
If it was up to me, I’d be after a regular ‘Runner’ model with the five-speed manual transmission in white. A modern-day Kombi if you will.
David: Toyota Hiace
The Hiace is a hero of the NZ automotive scene, especially in these lockdown times. How do you think those online orders are delivered? More likely than not in a Hiace. It’s the third most common vehicle in the Kiwi fleet. Not third most common van – third most common vehicle.
Previous models of Hiace have lagged behind in terms of modernity, but not the current one. It’s bang up to date on safety and equipment, having moved to a “semi-bonnet” design and sporting a very car-like cabin. It’s properly big as well: nearly 1.3m between the rear wheel arches (!) and 6.2 cubic metres in the ZR van.
Now, I’ll admit the Hiace doesn’t get a lot of Clean Car kudos. In fact, buy one next year and you’ll be slapped with a $3470 fine. But need I also point out that with 450Nm from its Hilux-sourced diesel, it’s one of the gruntiest vans around?
Anyway, I’ve chosen the $49,990 Hiace ZR Half Panel Van, which doubles as a five-seat passenger car. Replacing two vehicles (genuine van workhorse, family transport) with one is a really green thing to do. So even with the 2022 feebate on top, the Hiace Half Panel Van is a whole lot of light commercial/family wagon for your money… and incredibly cheap for a genuine motoring icon.
Dean: LDV eDeliver 3
If we’re talking clean, we can’t get cleaner C02 emissions than an electric, right? Yes yes, hold off on all the coal and battery comments, and let’s look at the LDV eDeliver 3. As a fully electric BEV van, the city-focused eDeliver, er, delivers a lot. Let’s start with the payload, around 900kg and 4.8 cubic metres; or two wooden pallets sitting on the floor space. The cargo size goes up or down depending on which model, and which battery is chosen. The range starts out with the 35kWh battery entry model, which starts at $49,990, making it the second-cheapest EV in NZ, and with a full EV rebate, $41,365.
It’ll carry 865kg, go for 227km around town and take 45 mins to charge to 80 percent on a public DC charger – perfect for a lunch break after the morning deliveries, and ready for the afternoon ones. It has two regen modes and does 0-100km/h in the 11 second range, though its 0-60 acceleration is much more impressive and apt. Power figures are 90kW/255Nm and front-wheel drive, maximizing cargo space. And it’ll take 6-8 hours to charge at home on a wall socket charger.
If all that isn’t enough, a $5000 premium serves up the larger battery 52.5kWh version, which is good for 344 city km, and though payload is a little less at 905kg, that’s a minor concern. Need even more, then the large eDeliver 9 could work better, but that’s a different topic. We drove the eDeliver 3 late last year, if you need a refresher.