The End Of The White Van Man Stereotype

I’m a pretty easy-going guy in the scheme of things. After all life’s too short to be moaning and groaning all the time about the weather or stressing over what to choose at a restaurant. However out on the road, there are two things that grate on me more than a lump of cheese: people driving whilst on mobile phones and white van men.

Now if you drive a white Vauxhall Van I’ll get to you presently, but firstly to the blood boiling spectacular. I find it incredible that people worry about terrorism to the extent they won’t travel abroad and turn their homes into fortresses to evade burglars to then use a phone whilst driving. To deliberately put yourself in mortal danger to find out that dinner will be the same time as it has been for the last five years befuddles me.

The introduction of points on the licence, a fine or prison sentence doesn’t seem to have changed matters much. When the sun popped out for two minutes the other day, some bloke in a convertible put the roof down faster than you can say “hairdresser” and drove up my backside whilst giggling on his poncy phone – a clear case of advertising you’re an idiot. Tell you this for free, had he been caught and jailed, he’d have lasted the same length of time in clink that the sun shone for.

In almost equal measure is the nations’ favourite stereotype – the white van man. Whether it’s overtaking at a snails pace on a blind bend, tailgating you from Land’s End to John O Groats or just driving into your stationary car, white van man rules the road. Give me the combination of a white van man and active mobile phone and the Incredible Hulk sequel will be tame in comparison.

Apologies for the rant, but you’ll now understand my reaction when I was asked to review the Vauxhall Vivaro, which appears to be a van and not a car. Depth and out of came to mind, however I’m willing to cross one of my two hatreds off the list and give Vauxhall’s light commercial van a sporting chance.

Having called upon my youth and love of the A-team, the idea of driving a van suddenly seemed much cooler and things started well with the Vivaro. For a kick-off although it doesn’t come in black with red stripes, the styling is, well, attractive. The Vivaro manages to keep its sense of identity with the Vauxhall range with a curvy front end and sweeping sides but there is no denying it’s built for one purpose.

With this intention in mind, I opened the giant rear doors and can report that the load space is…um big. The actual figures will probably inform you better, with the Vivaro’s maximum load length and width 2,415mm and 1,663mm respectively. A few clever features are to be found, in keeping with Vauxhall’s innovations throughout its range. The door catches can be easily released so they open a whopping 165 degrees and a non slip step is incorporated for extra safety when opening the sliding side door.

Inside the cabin it’s all really rather civilised with plenty of space for red top newspapers, lads mags and fast food. Cup holders abound and the obligatory three seats are also present. The driving position is good, with a fully adjustable steering wheel, although having the gear stick elevated off the ground may not be to everyone’s taste.

Out on the road, the 2.0 litre engine develops 115bhp which is an improvement on the previous model. Considering the last Vauxhall I drove was the Corsa VXR, the van was always going to be snail paced in comparison but once I was grounded back into reality it is actually a strong runner. Motorway driving is clearly the environment the van is most used to and it doesn’t disappoint. The engine happily rumbles along and the gear changes are swift and easy. In fact, despite me being a weakling I had no trouble manoeuvring the van in even the most confined spaces once off the motorway.

Running costs should be favourable too, with the Vivaro returning 39mpg and with service intervals of 18,000 miles you won’t spend all your time listening to lounge music at your local Vauxhall dealer. A sparkly new van also comes with a three year or 100,000 miles warranty and has certainly changed my opinion on what a van from Vauxhall can offer. Just please don’t tailgate me if you buy one.