Almost timeless design
Lower engine revs in 5th gear
Expensive eco options
Internal load area protection unavailable
Gearbox is clunky at times
It’s no coincidence that we tested the greenest version of the Vivaro’s key rival, the Ford Transit Econetic, in order to give us a direct comparison between what are certain to be two of Britain’s most popular environmentally-friendly vans. Despite being designed in 2001, albeit with many modifications during that time until production ended in 2014, the Vivaro can still put up a good fight against the Transit which impressed with its ride comfort, handling, build quality and its overall ergonomic design.
Based on the short-wheelbase, standard-roof model, the Vivaro ecoFlex is a more efficient variation of its 2-litre CDTi engined cousin, fitted with low-rolling resistance Goodyear Marathon tyres, an exhaust gas recirculation system, new thermal management system and slightly- revised aerodynamics. Two power ratings (88hp and 113hp) and two GVWs (2,700kg and 2,900kg) are available with the ecoFlex tweaks, with all four variations using the same 2-litre CDTi 16-valve engine and manufactured as short-wheelbase and standard-roof models only.
As a whole, Vauxhall estimates the changes are enough to save £800 over three years when compared to the standard SWB 2700 model, boosting EcoFlex’s fuel consumption from a claimed 37.6mpg (combined) and 198g/km of CO2 to 40.9mpg and 180g/km emissions. The reported 8% reduction in fuel consumption can also be attributed to the revised gear ratios that see third, fourth and fifth gear lowered, the result of which is an engine speed of 1,900rpm in fifth gear at 50mph – 200rpm less than a standard Vivaro.
On top of the £500 premium for ecoFlex models an optional speed limiter is also available at the cost of £75 with a choice of 56mph, 62mph or 68mph limits. Similarly there is no cruise control system fitted as standard – that will cost you a further £250 – and surprisingly for an ‘eco’ model there is no engine stop/start functionality, either as standard fitment or as an option. Aside from the rear door ecoFlex badge, the up-and-down gearshift indicators on the instrument binnacle are the only visual cue that this is the environmentally-friendly Vivaro.
Recent eco-vans have looked to make real improvements to CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency, and the Vivaro has certainly made improvements in that area with an 18g/km CO2 reduction and a claimed 3.2mpg improvement over the combined cycle. Neither should be sniffed at, but at an additional £500 and by Vauxhall’s own calculations an estimated two year payback, we wonder how many van users will bother. We can’t also help thinking Vauxhall have missed any easy win by omitting stop/start, a simple addition that may have seen the ecoFlex match, or outperform the Transit’s 35.5mpg urban fuel economy. It’s still a solid van, but with value, residuals and running costs in mind its hard to fully endorse going for this Ocean Green green van.