February 18, 2020

Double test: Edition or Elite?

Dan Gilkes puts two Vivaros – one base spec, one range-topper – head to head.

The light commercial vehicle market touches almost every sector of business, from self-employed plumbers and electricians, to national delivery companies and local authorities. To meet this varied requirement, manufacturers have to offer a broad selection of trim and specification levels.

Vauxhall’s latest Vivaro, now based on PSA’s mid-weight van and built in Luton, is a case in point. Indeed, customer demand has already forced Vauxhall to further expand the trim range on offer, from three to four specifications.

The line-up starts with Edition, which is far from a poverty-spec entry-level, offering Bluetooth connectivity, a digital radio, electric windows and heated door mirrors, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat and remote deadlocking among a wide range of standard features.

Initially the Vauxhall range then went up to the increasingly-popular Sportive specification, adding air conditioning, a 7” touchscreen for the infotainment, auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors and of course alloy wheels and body-coloured bumpers.

The top of the range Elite trim, which will probably appeal mainly to owner drivers, adds Multimedia Navi Pro, lane departure warning, speed sign recognition, larger alloys and front as well as rear parking sensors.

All well and good then, with something for everyone. However, a number of fleet managers decided that they wanted many of the driver assistance and comfort features of the Sportive model, including air-conditioning and the touchscreen infotainment, but without the easily damaged alloy wheels and painted bumpers. To meet this need, Vauxhall has launched Dynamic trim, combining a higher specification from Sportive, with the looks of Edition.

Spectrum

Yet, whichever trim level box you tick, you are still getting a Vauxhall Vivaro, so how different can they be? To find the answer we have models from each end of the spectrum, an L2H1 Doublecab in base Edition trim and an H1L1 panel van in range-topping Elite.

Firstly, it is worth noting that the specification level will also limit your choice of driveline. Edition models are offered with a 1.5-litre engine putting out 100hp or 120hp, or on heavier models a 2.0-litre engine delivering 120hp. All come with Stop/Start as standard. Both long and short wheelbase versions of the Doublecab are rated at 3.1-tonnes gross weight, so can only be ordered with the 2.0-litre engine, paired with a standard six-speed manual gearbox. Dynamic trim comes with the same engine offer, but is not available in Doublecab layout.

Move up to Sportive and you get the same choice of 100hp and 120hp 1.5-litre engines, while the 2.0-litre is offered at both 120hp and 150hp. The Doublecab comes with 2.0-litre engines only, in 120hp and 150hp outputs in the L1 model and at 120hp in the L2 length.

With the Elite trim, the 1.5-litre engine is only offered at 120hp in L1 panel vans. The 2.0-litre can be had with 120hp, 150hp and, in L1 van and Doublecab models, with a range-topping 180hp. That 180hp engine comes as standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The auto box will also be offered with the 120hp engine in the coming months on the Sportive model.

The combination of the 180hp engine and the auto transmission carries a £2,400 premium, when compared to the same model with a 150hp engine and a manual box. Interestingly, with so many forward ratios to choose from, the automatic doesn’t cost that much in terms of fuel consumption of CO2 emissions. Certainly, neither figure will be a deal breaker for those looking for the ultimate Vivaro.

As mentioned the Edition Doublecab is hardly a bargain-basement model and, equipped with the larger 120hp engine it has more than enough power to make good progress. Admittedly, you would have to have a real need for the ability to wash out the interior before ticking the vinyl seat box, particularly in the warmer summer months, but the Vivaro is otherwise a comfortable place to spend the day.

Vauxhall’s take on the Doublecab is slightly different to some others, that fit a solid bulkhead behind the second row of seating. In the Vivaro there is a mesh half screen attached to the seat backs. When the rear seats are folded forwards, to stand almost vertically behind the front row, the bulkhead folds with them, finishing up under the van roof.

Versatile

This provides almost the full panel van load area when the additional seating is not required, making the Doublecab a highly versatile vehicle. The only downside of this arrangement is that not having a solid bulkhead means that there is plenty of noise from the back of the van when speeds rise.

This is compounded by a lack of headlining above the second row of seating, as the folding mesh prevents its fitting. That aside though, there is little to complain about with the Edition Doublecab.

It will come as no surprise to find that there is even less to worry the driver of an Elite Vivaro, especially one fitted with the 180hp engine and the eight-speed auto. The van has more than enough power. However, rather than making it feel like a race car, it provides the Vivaro with a very relaxing drive, as you seldom need to push hard to make good progress. Motorway cruising in particular is very pleasant in the Vivaro.

The sooner the automatic transmission is offered with a wider range of engines the better, as it is a really smooth box that makes driving, especially in an urban environment, much easier. Both Mercedes and Iveco have proved that there is demand for automatics at the heavier end of the market. It can only be a matter of time before they become more popular in smaller models too, despite the premium.

While the Elite van shows just how good the Vivaro can be, it is the more basic Edition model that proves that when you have the basics right, the rest is simply window dressing. Vauxhall certainly provides a wide choice for customers. As they say: “You pays your money…”