Review: Vauxhall Vivaro (2001 – 2014)
Vauxhall version of the Renault Trafic, reliable and well built, comfortable ride and a good all-rounder.
Getting long in the tooth and starting to show its age now, gear linkage problems are common.
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Vauxhall Vivaro (2001 – 2014): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 98% of the official MPG figure
It may be getting old now but the Vauxhall Vivaro - the sister van to the Renault Trafic - continues to prove popular thanks to proven mechanicals, a comfortable cabin and a wide range of versions. It's been through plenty of updates too with improvements along the way to keep it up to date. The most significant came in 2006 when the range was thoroughly revised with a new look and better engines.
These upgrades included new cabin upholstery and fabrics, along with alloy detailing on the gear lever and interior door handles of Sportive models. Vauxhall also introduced an improved range of infotainment systems including the option of colour sat nav for the first time.
The Vauxhall offers much the same space, equipment, reliability and driving fun of its big rival, the Ford Transit. It's also cheap to run thanks to Vauxhall’s Ecoflex models. These give means emissions as low as 174g/km and economy as strong as 42.7mpg. Neither of these figures is to be sneezed at, regardless of the Vivaro now moving well into its twilight years.
The Vivaro is available in a wide range of combinations with long and short wheelbases and standard and high roofs. There are dropside versions, a nine-seat Combi and a 12-seat minibus, along with a long-wheelbase nine-seat Vivaro Combi. This offers all the space and comfort of a standard nine-seat Combi, but with the added benefit of improved luggage space.
Most Vivaro models come with the impressive 2.0-litre CDTi engine with either 90PS or 115PS and plenty of torque too with 240Nm and 260Nm respectively. A big boost to high mileage users is that the engines use a service-free free cam chain, rather than a rubber belt, reducing the cost of maintenance and minimising the amount of time the van must spend off the road.
Used Buying Guide - Vauxhall Vivaro
The Griffin-badged Vivaro has lots to offer with low fuel costs and big carrying capacity, but what should you look out for when buying used?
What does a Vauxhall Vivaro (2001 – 2014) cost?
Vauxhall Vivaro (2001 – 2014): What's It Like Inside?
While it may be moving into the latter years of its life, the Vauxhall Vivaro still manages to offer a cab that looks fresh, modern and enticing. There is a comfortable driver’s seating position that affords excellent vision out over the short overhang of bonnet. There are also large door mirrors to help when parking or swapping lanes.
The dash might not be the last word in cutting edge design, but what it lacks in flair it more than makes up for in clarity. It’s easy to see the white on black dials and Vauxhall has placed the stereo and heating controls high up on the centre console to be within easy reach for the driver. The gear lever is also mounted high and to the right of centre on the console to position it right where the driver’s left hand naturally falls, so ergonomics in the Vivaro are spot on.
Another small but important detail of note are the simple rotary dials for the heating and ventilation. Not only are these the best design of control for ventilation in our book, they also make it a doddle for the driver to select the ideal temperature without taking his eyes off the road ahead. This is a significant point when a moment’s inattention can make all the difference between safe driving and a collision.
By positioning the gear shift high on the dash, Vauxhall has freed up decent space for the third occupant’s feet. The Vivaro is one of the few vans in its class where three adults can sit comfortably and without the sensation of being a bit closer to each other than they would really like to be.
Vauxhall has also thought out cab storage well and it offers large door bins that will swallow big drinks bottles or a flask with no qualms. There are also shelves for keeping loose paperwork in check, plus cubbies and pockets aplenty. In total, there are 11 separate storage points spread around the Vivaro’s cabin.
In the load area, the accommodation is just as good and the Vivaro can be ordered in standard and long wheelbase forms with a standard or high roof. This means you can configure a Vivaro to suit most needs and it can also be ordered with additional glazing for the sliding side door either for improved visibility inside the load bay or if you order the Vauxhall as a crew bus.
Twin side-hinged rear doors give easy access to the load area, which offers as much space as most rivals. A lift-up tailgate is another option for those who might work out of the back of the van and need some protection from the elements while doing so. Vauxhall can provide its clever FlexCargo system of sliding securing hooks that means you can tailor tying down a load to fit your needs rather than making the best of fixed points.
What's the Vauxhall Vivaro (2001 – 2014) like to drive?
A pair of 2.0-litre turbodiesel engines take care of powering the Vauxhall Vivaro. They come in 90PS and 115PS forms with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. There is also the choice of a six-speed Tecshift gearbox, which is the same as the Renault Trafic’s Quickshift semi-automatic transmission. Like the Renault, the Vauxhall’s makes sense if you spend a lot of time in ebb and flow city congestion, but it does increase the cost of buying the Vivaro without adding to the driving experience on more open roads.
Vauxhall also offers its Ecoflex technology with both engines, with it standard on the smaller power unit and an option for the manual gearbox-equipped 115PS motor. The 90PS engine is perfectly suited to town driving as it gets the Vivaro off the line smartly and without fuss, even when the load bay is packed with kit.
Move out and on to more open byways and the 90PS engine begins to show up its shortfall in low and medium grunt for hauling heavier loads around. It’s not so much the engine struggles, just that you feel it could do with a bit more oomph. However, like its 115PS sister motor, the 90PS engine remains smooth and refined, even when pressed hard to climb steep motorway inclines. Our only complaint here is the amount of wind noise from around the windscreen in all Vivaro models at speeds above the urban limit.
For this kind of driving, the 115PS engine is the one to choose. Like the 90PS unit, it’s a remarkably smooth engine and doesn’t make much in the way of intrusive noise in the cabin. Compared to many of its rivals, the Vivaro is a very hushed van to travel long distances in, which is surely part of the secret of this model’s sales longevity. Again, like the 90PS models, the 115PS engine has controls that are light to operate, so no muscle building is required before using the clutch and gearshift, even in heavy traffic conditions.
Just as the controls give your physical being an easy time, so does the Vivaro’s suspension. It’s surprisingly supple for a commercial vehicle and doesn’t deteriorate into wallow or excessive lean when the load bay is filled to its maximum capacity. In fact, the Vivaro is one of the most nimble and neat handling vans in its class, and further evidence of why this van has proved to be such a long running success.
Over all sorts of bumps and jarring surfaces, the Vauxhall remains composed and at ease. On top of this, the brakes are powerful and progressive. Completing the driving prowess of the Vauxhall Vivaro is light, accurate steering with power assistance. It makes short work of piloting the Vivaro around snaking city streets and guiding the van into parking spots where space is at a premium.
Real MPG average for a Vauxhall Vivaro (2001 – 2014)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their vehicles could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.