January 11, 2017
In a week’s time, the International Van of the Year (IVOTY) will be announced at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover, Germany. We’re guaranteed a new winner as last year’s victor, the Volkswagen Transporter does not make the shortlist for 2017.
Initially, nine manufacturers had one of their vans nominated by the IVOTY judging panel but this was whittled down to a final shortlist of five for the crown.
Three of the finalists are brand-new, redesigned models while the remaining two are both Euro 6-compliant vehicles. Let’s run through the nominations.
When a van is this popular, it’s no surprise that it gets nominated for award after award. But what’s different about this Ford Transit Custom compared to previous versions? Basically, it’s simply a Euro 6-compatible engine. But it’s not just any engine. Ford call it the ‘panther’, and it’s smaller than its predecessor at 2-litres yet offers a higher power output.
The last generation ratings of 125PS and 155PS have been enhanced to 130PS and 170PS respectively. Official figures released by Ford claim that fuel economy is improved by 13 percent while there is 20 percent more pulling power. Ford developed the new, more powerful and more efficient engines at their technical centre in the UK.
First introduced at the 2014 Hanover Motor Show, the Hyundai H350 is a large panel van targeting rivals like the Mercedes Sprinter and Ford Transit. Its name refers to the gross vehicle weight rating of the van – 3,500kg. The H350 offers load volumes up to 12.9 cubic metres, which is some way off the biggest volumes in the segment although it can still accommodate a claimed 5 euro pallets.
The Hyundai H350 is powered by a 2.5CRDi Euro 6-compliant diesel engine designed to deliver maximum torque of 373Nm from a power output of 150PS. Benefitting from an excellent level of standard equipment, the H350 has some convenient features such as a reversing camera, air conditioning, wiper de-icer and wide-view mirrors.
The Iveco Daily has a big reputation. Its unique, tough chassis means that it can beat most, if not all other vans in its segment for load-carrying ability. A load volume of 19.6 cubic metres is unmatched by its rivals.
It’s not all about big loads, though. The Daily is available in – wait for it – any of EIGHT THOUSAND different combinations of format and specification, which includes chassis cab, crew cab and minibus variants. Class-leading figures include a maximum power output of 205PS and maximum torque of 470Nm.
Considering that these ‘triplets’ were revealed just matter of months ago and that the first deliveries of these new vans have only recently commenced, it’s pretty impressive that they’ve made the shortlist. Having said that, the vans come with some innovative new features, improved specifications and a completely overhauled design – which may explain the nomination. There’s no doubt that these medium vans are far more visually appealing than their predecessor.
Among the brand new implementations on the Dispatch, Expert and Proace are a hands-free sliding door, a head-up display and a 7 inch touchscreen satellite navigation system. There’s also front AND rear parking sensors as well as a reversing camera. Let’s go back to that hands-free sliding door. It might sound confusing but in practice, it’s excellent. When your hands are full, simply ‘wave’ a foot underneath the van and the door opens automatically. Genius.
Unveiled to the public for the first time just this week, the Volkswagen Crafter is probably the van we’re most excited about. Ditching the shackles of its association with the Sprinter, (the old Crafter was essentially a rebadged Sprinter) Volkswagen now have a purpose-built plant in Poland to produce the brand new van.
Again, there are significant improvements here. Load volume has been increased from 17 to 18.4 cubic metres. The new Crafter also provides an additional 56mm headroom compared to the last generation. Meanwhile its stylish new design, incorporating ‘scooped’ lines has reduced the drag co-efficient to a class-best 0.33cd, which will enhance fuel economy. Other class-leading figures include a maximum load length of 4855mm and 1380mm between the wheel arches. Oh, and it is far and away the best-looking large van on the market.
Chairman of IVOTY, Jarlath Sweeney, said: “As we mark twenty-five years of the International Van of the Year, it is great to see that yet again we have another fine collection of new vans to select the overall winner of the most prestigious title in the industry, International Van of the Year 2017.”