MAN TGE van review

Category: Large Van

A very competent entry into the large van market, as well as one of the most customisable.

MAN TGE front cornering
  • MAN TGE front cornering
  • MAN TGE rear cornering
  • MAN TGE dashboard
  • MAN TGE load space
  • MAN TGE front static
  • MAN TGE front cornering
  • MAN TGE rear cornering
  • MAN TGE dashboard
  • MAN TGE load space
  • MAN TGE front static


What Car? says...

Doesn’t MAN make trucks? Well, yes, but since 2017 the brand has also been making a van thanks to its group partner, Volkswagen.

The MAN TGE is based on the Volkswagen Crafter. In fact, it is identical in every way, except that as a truck manufacturer, MAN has service centres that are open 24 hours a day, and as a result you can get your MAN TGE booked in for a service “out of hours”. For a busy business, that can be a real blessing.

The TGE range is just as diverse as the Crafter’s, with two different length vans and two heights, as well as single- and double-cab chassis platforms. There’s even a campervan version, which is a traditional body-on-frame model, rather than a fitted out panel van like the Crafter-based Volkswagen Grand California.

You can also have the TGE with gross vehicle weights of 3.0 tonnes or 3.5-tonnes, plus there is a much larger 5.0-tonne version should you need to carry very heavy payloads. Towing capacity is also 3.5 tonnes.

Unlike other vans which have set trim levels, the TGE comes as a basic van with an enormous options list which allows for a huge degree of flexibility and means you really do get what you pay for.

There is choice when it comes to the engines, with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel unit available in four different power outputs. This is where it can get a little confusing, because the TGE is available in front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive forms, and there are different engines to match.

Front-wheel-drive models come with 101bhp, 138bhp or 174bhp, while rear-wheel drives start with a 121bhp option and have the same 138bhp or 174bhp engines as well. Four-wheel-drive vans are only available with the 138bhp or 174bhp engines.

On front-wheel-drive vans the two higher output engines can be specified with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, but on the rear- and four-wheel-drive vans it is just the top-power engine that has that option.

In addition to its Volkswagen Crafter sibling, the MAN TGE has to compete with a host of other large vans, including the Ford Transit, Nissan NV400, Peugeot Boxer and Renault Master. Yet, it is the Mercedes Sprinter that the TGE is best compared with.

The Sprinter also has the full range of front, rear and four-wheel-drive drivelines and has manual or automatic gearboxes across its range. Plus, like the TGE, it's also available as an electric van.

Read more: How we test vans

MAN TGE image
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The Volkswagen Crafter is a very comfortable and pleasant van to drive, and the MAN TGE is no different. MAN doesn’t do a mid-sized van, but the TGE does not feel like a large van; instead it feels similar in size to a Volkswagen Transporter.

It’s dynamic and has really sharp steering, which is impressive not only for its size, but also because the steering is electromechanical, which can often dull the connection you get with the road.

The ride is also wonderfully smooth. As a whole package, the TGE and Crafter are among the best-driving vans in the large van sector – sitting just behind the Ford Transit for driver engagement, but the margins are slim.

Of all the engine options, it’s the 138bhp unit that best suits the TGE, pulling smoothly from just a few revs above idle, and feeling well suited to both urban and motorway usage.

This is convenient, because it’s an engine that’s available across all configurations, allowing you to specify the eight-speed automatic gearbox on a front-wheel-drive van. While the six-speed manual is pretty slick, we’d urge you to try the auto before you buy; it’s a real gem, which is something of a rarity in a large van.

On top of this, the TGE is one of the quietest vans out there, shutting out wind and road noise to a greater degree than some large van rivals.

MAN TGE rear cornering


The interior layout, fit and finish

The TGE’s dashboard is split horizontally to create a cup-sized storage section for both the driver and passenger, while on top of the dash you’ll find three open areas, also with two cupholders.

Specify the navigation system, and the screen fills the central section, but it’s sharp and easy to read, even in bright sunlight. The other option is a MAN Media Van radio with a basic black and white display, although this does still include an SD-card slot, aux-in and USB connections, and Bluetooth connectivity.

If you don’t add either, all you get is Bluetooth. In fact, everything from air conditioning (manual or automatic), right down to a lockable glovebox or 12v power socket cost extra.

It can get complicated figuring out exactly what you will and won’t need, given the huge range of options packs that are available, but MAN’s approach does mean you can buy a good large van for a very low price if you’re happy to forgo many of the niceties it can offer.

We’d recommend at the very least adding the overhead storage, as well as the Driver’s Comfort Plus seat, which is four-way adjustable and very supportive.

MAN TGE dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

As we mentioned at the start of this review, the TGE comes in two wheelbase lengths, with three body lengths and three heights.

To complicate matters, there are a number of configurations possible between each of those variables, but it means that the TGE can move anything from 9.9m3 up to 18.4m3.

Three different gross vehicle weights (3.0-tonnes, 3.5-tonnes and 5.0-tonnes) means the TGE has a payload range from 784kg to 2621kg, with a typical 3.5-tonne van capable of moving a maximum of 1447kg.

Load lengths range from 3450mm to 4855mm, while standard height vans measure up at 1861mm.

There is also the option of a lower roof with a 1726mm height, or you can have the tallest van on the market with a total internal height of 2196mm.

A sliding side door with an aperture of 1311mm is standard on all models, along with 180-degree rear doors.

MAN TGE load space

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

It might not be a well-known name in the van market, but MAN is a titan of the truck world, and the obvious benefits of being able to service a van outside of normal business hours will definitely appeal to many customers.

As a bonus, many of the safety features are above what competitors offer. The electromechanical steering is the key to this, making possible features like Trailer Assist – which help park a trailer – and Park Steering Assist – which actually parks the van.

Other systems available include Cross Wind Assist, Active Lane Assist, Rear Traffic Assist, Side Assist and Emergency Brake Assist – the latter of which is fitted as standard on all models, providing automatic braking if there is the risk of a collision.

The MAN TGE comes with a three-year or 100,000 mile warranty, while servicing intervals are every 24 months and every 30,000 miles for a main service.

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About the author

George Barrow is one of the leading van and truck reviewers, and is the UK’s only representative on the prestigious International Van of the Year jury. He has written about vans and commercial vehicles for the past 15 years, and can be found in titles including The Sun and What Van?, alongside What Car?.

Barrow is well regarded in the commercial vehicle industry, securing access to the latest models – and the people who made them – long before other titles.


MAN TGE front static


  • Both VW and MAN are owned by the VW Group. As such, there’s no difference between a VW Crafter and MAN TGE beyond the level of service that is offered to owners of the latter, as the truck manufacturer operates 24-hour service centres for quick repairs if anything goes wrong. Read our full VW Crafter review, or our MAN TGE review.


  • MAN Truck & Bus is part of the Volkswagen Group of companies, which also owns Audi, Bentley, Cupra, Ducati, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, VW and VW Commercial Vehicles. The MAN TGe is essentially a rebadged VW Crafter and has been sold since 2017. Read our MAN TGE review.

  • All MAN TGE vans use engines from the VW Group and are generally strong performers for pace and economy. Our pick is the 138bhp unit, ideally linked to the eight-speed automatic gearbox, which delivers startlingly smooth performance. Read our MAN TGE driving verdict.

  • We rate the MAN TGE as one of the very best buys in the large van class, with our testers giving it five out of five stars for being comfortable, great to drive, easy to customise and describing it as a “bargain” if specced carefully. Read our full MAN TGE verdict