New Vauxhall Vivaro van review

Category: Medium Van

The Vivaro Diesel medium van delivers a competitive payload and some useful new driver tech

Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel front cornering
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel front cornering
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel rear left driving
  • Phil Huff test driving Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel load bay
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel infotainment touchscreen
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel front left driving
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel rear left driving
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel front left static
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel right static
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel right static side door open
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel rear right static
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel headlights detail
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel grille detail
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel rear lights detail
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel interior front seats
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel interior front seats
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel interior detail
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel interior detail
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel front cornering
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel rear left driving
  • Phil Huff test driving Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel load bay
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel infotainment touchscreen
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel front left driving
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel rear left driving
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel front left static
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel right static
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel right static side door open
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel rear right static
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel headlights detail
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel grille detail
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel rear lights detail
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel interior front seats
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel interior front seats
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel interior detail
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel interior detail

Introduction

What Car? says...

It’s no secret that the Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel shares almost all its parts with a range of other vans from parent company Stellantis.

Indeed, you'd be hard-pushed to tell the difference between a Vivaro with its Vauxhall badges covered up and a Citroën Dispatch, Fiat Scudo or Peugeot Expert.

To keep it fresh against rival medium vans, Vauxhall has given the Vivaro a significant facelift for 2024. As part of that, the brand’s "vizor" grille design has been grafted on to the van’s nose to bring it into line with new Vauxhall car models.

There’s also a new dashboard and tech inside, but no significant mechanical changes. (The other Stellantis models and the closely related Toyota Proace get similar updates.)

So, how do we rate the latest Vauxhall Vivaro against the best medium vans and is it a better choice than the Ford Transit Custom, Mercedes Vito, Nissan Primastar, Renault Trafic or VW Transporter – or indeed, any of its "twins"? Read on to find out...

Overview

The Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel has been a strong seller in the UK, favoured over its Stellantis stablemates thanks to familiarity and an extensive dealer network. It’s a mixed bag for load lugging, excelling in some areas, and where it does fall short, it’s not too far behind. It’s also decent to drive, refined — especially with the 1.5-litre engine — and now, following a facelift, with up-to-date technology for the driver.

  • Can carry more weight than rivals
  • Drives and rides well
  • Useful equipment and tech fitted as standard
  • Offset driving position can be a literal pain
  • Load volume falls short of others
  • Only one roof height

Performance & drive

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

While the outside of the Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel has been on the receiving end of a bold refresh, that can’t be said of the mechanical bits of the van. The engines remain the same, the chassis remains the same and the suspension remains the same – although none of that is a bad thing.

Engine options are currently limited to two diesels: a 1.5-litre unit with a 118bhp output and a 2.0-litre model with 142bhp. Both come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but if you order the 2.0-litre engine, you get the option of having a six-speed automatic gearbox instead.

Performance from both engines is strong, but you’ll save quite a lot of money on your Vivaro by opting for the smaller engine, which is perfectly capable of hauling a fully loaded van around. There’s 221lb/ft of torque on offer, which is only 30lb/ft shy of the larger engine’s output.

We carried a 250kg load and could barely tell the difference between that and running empty. Of course, it'll feel a little sluggish with 1.2 tonnes of freight on board, but you won’t be left wanting when pulling out into a tight gap.

Handling is impressive, although it’s some way short of car-like. Steering is light and precise, with a good amount of feel thanks to a traditional hydraulic power steering pump that lets you feel what’s happening under the tyres.

Body roll is present but kept well in check, even when the Vivaro is loaded up, giving you confidence in corners. It’s quiet, especially with the 1.5-litre engine, which is a boon for those tackling long-distance missions.

Vauxhall Vivaro image
Skip the showroom and find out more online

Of course, you can cut engine noise completely if you go for an electric van rather than a diesel – and there's one of those in the Vivaro range too. To read about that, see our Vauxhall Vivaro Electric review.

Driving overview

Strengths Cheapest engine is impressive; fine handling and comfort

Weaknesses Small mirrors affect rear visibility; cheaper engine isn't available with an auto gearbox

Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel rear left driving

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

The revised dashboard in the Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel is a thoroughly pleasing update. It doesn’t add a great deal of flamboyance, remaining firmly on the functional side.

There's a new 10.0in infotainment touchscreen mounted high in the centre of the dashboard dominating the interior. It has all the connectivity needed, with Bluetooth, USB, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring.

You'll need the phone mirroring to run a navigation app on the entry-level Prime model, which doesn't have sat-nav built in. The top-spec Pro model uses the same infotainment screen but adds built-in navigation.

There’s now a small shelf under the Vivaro's infotainment panel large enough to safely hold a mobile phone, with a nearby USB socket making it easy to connect your preferred app to the van.

The driver gets a new 10.0in digital instrument display, which can be configured to show vital and less vital information – from a simple digital speed reading to fuel economy and, on Pro models, sat-nav instructions.

Unfortunately, finding a comfortable driving position in the Vivaro is difficult because the pedals and steering wheel are offset from each other. It’s instantly noticeable that the flat-bottomed wheel is positioned to the left of straight ahead, with the pedals to the right, which leads to a twist in the back that could become troublesome on long journeys.

At least there's no lack of adjustment to try to make the best of it — the driver gets a six-way adjustable seat with lumbar adjustment and an armrest, along with a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake.

Visibility is fine, although the wing mirrors are a little small, which limits rear visibility. That’s improved on the Pro specification model thanks to the Dynamic Surround View feature. That gets you a digital rear-view mirror displaying what’s behind you from a rear-mounted camera. It’s handy, especially on motorways, but its wide-angle lens makes it tricky to judge distances in urban areas.

In terms of quality, the Vivaro has a solidly assembled interior that’s been transformed into a modern and – seating position aside – ergonomically sound set-up. The plastics are a little on the scratchy side in places, including areas you’ll be touching each day, such as the door panels, but they're no worse or better than you’ll find in rival medium vans.

Interior Overview

Strengths Large digital interface with supporting physical buttons; good connectivity; high equipment levels in both grades

Weaknesses Offset driving position; high window line makes the cabin feel dark; no over-windscreen storage; cheap plastics

Phil Huff test driving Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The business end of the diesel Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel hasn’t changed with the recent update, which means it’s still competitive with the best medium vans.

Gross vehicle weights vary across the range, with the lowest GVW at 2,830kg and several reaching up to 3,100kg. With a reasonably lightweight chassis and engine, payload limits range from 1,118kg with the 1.5-litre engine to as high as 1,384kg with the 2.0-litre engine.

Until the new Ford Transit Custom came along with limits of up to 1,416kg, that was the best in class and ahead of the Renault Trafic and VW Transporter by 100kg or so. The LEVC VN5 and Mercedes Vito are in a different league, falling around 500kg behind the Vivaro.

The Vivaro, which is available in two lengths, is less impressive for cargo volume (which is important if you carry lots of very light items). The short-wheelbase van offers 5.3m3 while the extended XL model has 6.1m3, which is bested by, well, everything comparable. Most rivals offer an extra half m3, with the long (L2) version of the Transit Custom reaching up to 6.8m3.

Other vans can offer even greater load volumes, as the likes of the Trafic and Transporter are available with a high roof option – something Vauxhall doesn't offer for this model. The positive is that the Vivaro, at a smidge over 1.9m high, will fit into most car parks and other restricted-height areas.

Despite the limited dimensions, all Vivaros can take a couple of Euro pallets, with the XL model able to squeeze three in the back.

The load box features sliding doors on both sides, making access easy wherever you park, but the doors are not particularly wide, at 935mm. The Transit Custom has a 1,030mm-wide aperture, but only one door, mounted on the passenger side.

The rear doors swing open to leave a gap 1,282mm wide, which is somewhat short of the Transit Custom’s 1,400mm opening. The doors open to 180 degrees, which means you can slide in a pallet using a forklift without a problem.

If you want more than a regular panel van, the Vivaro is available as a crew cab that can seat six, although it gives up 2.1m3 of cargo space in exchange for three individual rear seats.

Practicality overview

Strengths Sliding doors on both sides; class-leading payload limits; low height adds access flexibility

Weaknesses Cargo volume down on the best; sliding doors are a little narrow; lack of high roof limits options

Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel load bay

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Vauxhall has kept the Vivaro Diesel's range simple, with two trim levels available (once you've chose from the two engines and two body lengths). 

The entry-level Prime model is surprisingly well equipped, with a 10.0in touchscreen infotainment system with wireless connectivity, air conditioning, cruise control, rear parking sensors, electrically adjustable mirrors and storage under the twin passenger seat.

The step up in price to the Pro version is not too big, and gets you larger wheels with alloy wheel-like covers, body-coloured paint on the bumpers, built-in sat-nav and the Dynamic Surround View system (a digital rear-view mirror).

Prices for the Vivaro and all the closely related Stellantis van models are roughly on par with each other, and undercut the Ford Transit Custom for now. (Ford hasn’t brought out its entire range yet, so there’s room for lower-priced entry-level models to join the line-up.)

The Vivaro undercuts the Mercedes Vito, Nissan Primastar and Renault Trafic too, while the LEVC VN5 is so much more expensive that it could be mistaken for a much larger van if looking at the price list alone.

The 1.5-litre diesel engine is the most fuel-efficient of the range, reaching as high as 44.8mpg according to WLTP testing.

Fuel economy figures between 34.0 (for the 1.5-litre) and 44.8mpg (for the 2.0-litre) are promised, according to official WLTP figures. That's in line with almost every other medium van on the market. The only outlier is the vastly more expensive LEVC VN5, which is a range-extender hybrid (a bit like a PHEV) and officially returns 382mpg, with an electric-only range of 73.4 miles.

If you often drive in low-emissions zones, you might also want to consider the Vauxhall Vivaro Electric.

Vauxhall covers the Vivaro for three years, with a comprehensive warranty (limited to 100,000 miles) and roadside assistance.

That’s roughly the same as Renault and Volkswagen, while Nissan extends the cover to five years, although still limited to 100,000 miles. Mercedes doesn’t place a mileage limit on its three-year cover, but Ford looks a little stingy, with the Transit Custom covered for just 60,000 miles over the first three years.

Vivaros need to see a dealer for servicing every two years, or when they reach a set mileage. That varies from engine to engine, from 25,000 to 32,000 miles. Ford will want to see your van every 25,000 miles or two years, as will Renault.

Costs overview

Strengths Good value compared to rivals; small difference in price between models; clear options list; potentially long service intervals

Weaknesses Warranty cover is nothing special


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Vauxhall Vivaro Diesel infotainment touchscreen

FAQs

  • Diesel Vivaros are built in Luton, UK. At the moment, the electric Vivaro van is built at a factory in Valenciennes, France, but in 2025 production will shift to Luton.

  • The Vivaro is almost identical to several other Stellantis group medium vans – the Citroën Dispatch, Fiat Scudo, Peugeot Expert and Toyota Proace. The Proace stands out because it comes with a service-activated 10-year warranty. We recommend choosing the model you can get the best deal on.

  • The Vauxhall Vivaro Life is based on the same chassis as the Vivaro van, but is a plusher family-oriented model. It can carry six or seven people and their luggage in relative comfort and luxury.