“Cumbersome” and “behemoth” are just two of the words that have been used to describe the long-wheelbase Renault Master in a recent road test, and as a sibling of the French giant – and at nearly 7m in length – this L4H2 Movano is no different. However, the Movano’s vast size brings enormous benefits for those who bulk-out rather than weigh-out.
This is the extra long-wheelbase or L4 model, with a standard (H2) roof; but customers can also choose between short, medium and long wheelbases with low or high roofs. L3/L4 and H2/H3 versions can also be specified for the first time with rear-wheel-drive (tested here), while smaller models get front-wheel-drive only.
Like the FWD model we tested in August, the Movano comes with a 2.3-litre CDTi engine, replacing the old 2.5-litre unit used in the previous generation. Whereas the FWD model we tested was equipped with the base 99hp unit, this particular vehicle gets the most powerful engine available, producing 144hp and 350Nm of torque, while a third variant bridges the gap in the range by delivering 124hp.
At 3.5 tonnes the Movano is also available with a twin RWD axle that on vehicles plated to 4.5-tonnes GVW increases towing capacity to 3 tonnes.
The 2.3CDTi was developed by Renault-Nissan specifically for heavy duty commercial vehicles and, as a result, supplies high levels of torque for greater lengths of time. The 285Nm and 310Nm torque peaks, on the 100hp and 125hp versions, cover a broad range from 1250-2000rpm and 350Nm from the 144hp engine cover a band of 1500-2750rpm.
Official test figures say the Movano should return around 36.2mpg on the combined cycle, however, the obvious benchmark for fuel economy was set by the LWB Renault Master LML 35TW dCi 150 which, after being broken-in during several months on our test fleet, achieved fuel consumption figures of 27.3mpg on the laden run, and 30.1mpg when running empty.
Although Euro-5 engines should achieve a fuel saving, the Movano failed to hit the same mark, notching up 24.3mpg and 26.7mpg for laden and unladen runs respectively.
However, our test vehicle was brand new, and perhaps ill-prepared for the demanding hills, twists and motorway miles of the famed Kent route. Traffic also hampered the unladen test, and in ordinary circumstances with more miles on the clock we would expect the Movano to achieve consumption figures on a par with the Master van.
Changes to the chassis have led to an increase in payload compared with the previous generation RWD Renault, which means the Movano is now capable of taking 1,176kg. Although in a vehicle of this size payload is perhaps not of paramount importance – as buyers are likely to concentrate on volume – by raising the threshold to well over one tonne it opens the RWD Movano up to a greater audience. With a maximum volume of 17m3 this model dwarfs many competitors, while the repackaged chassis has helped reduce the load height to 717mm. Despite the useful addition of rear steps to improve access, their size means the load floor is further away from you, which makes placing goods gently on the floor more of a strain to the loader. Where appropriate, loading access is best served through the side door.
|Model||Wheelbase (mm)||Length (mm)||Width (mm)||Height (mm)||Loadspace Length (mm)||Loadspace Width (mm)||Loadspace Height (mm)||Volume (m3)||Payload (kg)|
A total of 21 separate storage areas – dominated by the two-tier storage on the centre console – provide ample room for an assortment of knick-knacks.
As much of the storage is open, secure storage is a problem in the cabin, and although the glovebox is very deep it is not lockable, a negative despite the two large overhead storage bins that can keep valuables out of sight.
As for spending your working day in the driving seat, settling into the Movano is relatively easy with a near perfect seating position providing excellent visibility, support and comfort. The gearstick is positioned a few inches too far away, and the steering wheel only adjusts for height, not reach, but that aside, we found covering several hundred miles a day in the Movano enjoyable and unchallenging.
On The Road
Behind the wheel the Movano masks its size remarkably well, feeling smaller than it is when going forward. The steering feels balanced and is light enough to manoeuvre the Movano’s giant frame into gaps with assured accuracy, and the transmission is slick between the gates, albeit with a rugged feel. The chassis and suspension also soak up road bumps with ease, returning a reined ride free from the usual bounce and wobble you would expect from a vehicle of this wheelbase. The Movano also feels more suited to running heavily loaded.
Of course, going forward is the easy part, and although the sizeable mirrors provide great all-round visibility, guiding the Movano backwards requires excellent depth of vision and a sound understanding of the turning restrictions of such an elongated vehicle. Fortunately, our test vehicle was fitted with reverse parking sensors (£265), making the voyage backwards easier.
All vans come with front ventilated disc brakes and standard rear discs with ABS, EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution) and EBA (Emergency Brake Assist).
Standard on all rear-wheel drive models and optional at extra cost (£400) on front-wheel drive versions, ESP-plus reduces throttle response and varies the braking force to each of the wheels when a driving imbalance is detected, keeping the vehicle moving in the right direction.
Static cornering lights are part of the Lighting Pack, or can be purchased as an optional extra.
Cost of Ownership
There are 445 Vauxhall dealers throughout the UK, although only 115 of these are authorised to sell the Movano. Another 155 are able to service the Movano.
Vauxhall offer a slightly bemusing three year/100,000 mile or 12 month unlimited mileage warranty with the Movano, although service intervals are set at a fairly lengthy 25,000 miles or two years.
The Movano offers a great choice of bodyweights and volumes for the discerning van user, although the same can’t be said for the driveline. The three power and one engine option fall short of many of the competitors, especially for the heavier variants that might require more than 144hp to get off the mark with a full load.