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The best van you can’t have

Van Advisor has a flashback to summer 2012, and re-ignites the question, why don't we have this van yet?

Romanian budget brand Dacia has recently landed in the UK, it’s Duster SUV is already on sale for a bargain basement price of £8,995, and now with the might of Renault behind them Dacia is taking on the LCV market in Europe with its new Dokker van. Named after a play on the word dockworker, the Dokker has been designed from the start as an LCV and shares a number of components with Renault models, notably the Kangoo. Based on the M0 platform used in their Lodgy MPV, Dacia claim there is just 10% crossover with the Kangoo, but admit that it there is some model overlap with the French van. However, Dacia anticipate the audience for the Dokker to be vastly different and will instead be targeting buyers of second hand vehicles. That means the Dokker comes with an eye catching entry-level price expected to be in the region of €8000 when launched in France.

It is truly a shame that it won’t be coming to the UK

Dacia are championing a ‘pay for what you need’ concept with the Dokker, and believe it will offer the cheapest cubage on the market. With a maximum load width of 1400mm and load length of 1900mm the Dokker offers a 3.3m3 load volume. By folding the bulkhead and removing the Dacia Easy Seat (a feature borrowed from the rear seats of the Renault Scenic) the load length is increased to 3110mm and the overall volume to 3.9m3. Maximum payload is 750kg.

Contrary to the Renault Kangoo range which consists of 12 variants, the Dokker line-up will consist of just two models, a standard height, standard length panel van and the equivalent passenger car model.

A choice of four engine outputs will be available at launch, two petrol and two diesel, with a direct injection and turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre petrol taken from the Renault Mégane and Scenic range procuding 115hp and 85hp respectively, lining up along side two Euro-5 1.5-litre dCi units producing 75hp and 90hp. Both diesel engines will be badged eco2 signifying their CO2 emissions output of just 118g/km and combined fuel consumption of 63mpg.

On paper the Dokker looks encouraging, and out on the roads it doesn’t fail to disappoint. With a 50% payload in the rear, the 90hp engine proved to be the better performer, allowing the driver to keep the engine around 1,750rpm where peak torque of 200Nm is developed. Both deliver their power smoothly across the rev range, but the 75hp unit can be found lacking with 20Nm less torque on call. It is therefore perhaps better suited to tradesmen that don’t require transporting high payloads. Dokker’s steering is exceptionally light, but its connectivity with the road is enhanced through the MacPherson-type front suspension and by the use of Kangoo’s coil sprung flexible rear beam axle, a combination that helps to mask the handling affects of the vehicle being laden.

For a vehicle of this price, the quality is reassuringly high. The interior design is distinctly Kangoo – albeit in a different layout that placed our test vehicles navigation unit far too low in the centre console –it does however exceed the quality you would expect of a budget van. The most obvious detraction is the seat design and its material which does feel basic, but they are also comfortable and offer good adjustment. Dacia has carried out over 100,000 door slam tests, during which time they would no doubt have realised that the door feels flimsier than most, but it can clearly stand up to the rigours of commercial usage. Although there are certain tell-tale elements that hint at the Dokker’s low starting price, you do get a lot of van for your money.

Value for money is one thing – and you wouldn’t be surprised at getting an inferior product for such an appealing price – but the Dokker is every bit the modern van. It is truly a shame that it won’t be coming to the UK.

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