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Vehicle Comparisons

Fiat Talento

Fiat Talento

If your business is trying to decide between an affordable compact-sized van and a spacious larger one, then Fiat's Talento medium-sized van could prove to be the perfect compromise between the two. It's as spacious as most users will ever need, yet affordable, both to lease and to run. Transit Custom and Vauxhall Vivaro-class drivers need to consider a Fiat Talento lease option.

Vans have been becoming more and more car-like in recent years - and this one is no exception. The driving position, though not as high-set as you'd find in the marque's larger Ducato model, is nonetheless commanding. And it's comfortable on the move, coping admirably with the atrocious surfaces offered up by poorer sections of the British road network. That relaxed approach also extends to the electric power steering, which at speed, could offer a bit more feel. You appreciate its lightness around town though, where this van is impressively manoeuvrable for its size. If you're used to very big vans, you will have to adjust to this one's lower stance. This, combined with the big front overhang, can initially make parking a bit tricky, though rearward vision is helped hugely by the huge door mirrors with their separate wide-angle reflectors.

Under the bonnet, the Fiat Talento gets a range of efficient 1.6-litre turbo and twin-turbo diesel engines, all equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. There's a choice of two engine design themes - single-turbo MultiJet units or more efficient but pricier twin-turbo Ecojet powerplants. The MultiJet models come with 95 or 120bhp. The Ecojet options come in 95, 125 and 145bhp forms.

From a design standpoint, the Fiat Talento mid-sized van is compact and well-proportioned. The forward- stretching windscreen connects neatly to the short bonnet and the overall effect creates something a lot better looking than the old Scudo model. The grille is designed to wrap around the headlights and the squared-off rear end allows for ample inner space and a high load capacity, while giving the Talento a broader stance.

Inside, the Talento features comfortable ergonomically shaped seats and a useful 90-litres of in-cabin storage space that's delivered in a variety of shapes and sizes (including compartments hidden under the seat base and behind the seat back of the passenger seats). We like the additional blind spot-mitigating ViewPlus interior mirror, the innovative fold-down central seat with detachable clipboard holder and the available smartphone/tablet holder.

An advantage the Fiat Talento offers over the smaller Doblo Cargo model is the standard fitment of a properly sized middle third seat. To free up space for this and make it easier for the driver to slide over to the passenger side of the cab, the gearstick has been mounted on a protruding moulding in the centre of the dash. It still rather gets in the way if you're trying to slide across the cab and limits the middle person's legroom. Still, the third seat is useful to have - and quite adequate for mates on short journeys or kids you might have to drop off on the way to work.

There's no doubt that a Fiat Talento medium-sized van lease has what it takes to offer an attractive alternative to the Transit Custom, Vivaro, Transporter and Trafic models of this world, but whether you'd want one over its Citroen and Peugeot design stablemates will depend as usual much upon the deal that you're offered and the proximity and convenience of your local franchise. Which is where Fiat reckons it has an advantage.

An increasing part of the company's dealer network is open 24 hours a day for service and repair work to minimise business downtime and even those that aren't, usually feature flexible and extended opening hours. If you're running a business on tight margins, that's the kind of support you're going to need. Added to the excellence of this Fiat Talento, it could just make for a very attractive business proposition indeed.

Click here to find out more about our Fiat Talento range
Citroen Dispatch

Citroen Dispatch

The Citroen Dispatch medium-sized van is just as the manufacturer reckons it should be and it goes up against some tough LCV rivals in this sector like Ford's Transit Custom and Volkswagen's Transporter. Style, size and technology are all factors that now rank in this much improved third generation model's favour though, a Citroen Dispatch lease package has much to offer in this tightly-fought segment.

Citroen reckons that the handling on this MK3 model Dispatch is much improved, narrowing the dynamic gap in this regard to the class-leading Transit Custom. Engine choice in a Citroen Dispatch mid-sized van is pretty straightforward, provided you've a clear idea of the kind of work you want it to do. Sensibly, all the Euro6 units on offer are diesels and if your needs are mainly based around lighter loads and short distance urban work, then the entry-level 95bhp 1.6-litre BlueHDi unit may well be quite sufficient: this engine's also offered with 115bhp. For heavier payloads and longer journeys however, you'll be needing the 2.0-litre BlueHDi model which gives you a lot more pulling power and is available with either 120, 150 or 180bhp, the most powerful unit mated to the brand's efficient EAT6 auto transmission.

A key factor behind the success of the previous generation Citroen Dispatch was the way it remained compact and wieldy in the manner of smaller, more car-like vans from the class below. This model's bigger of course, but it retains much of that same usability around town and rides much better thanks to revised suspension and a stiffer EMP2 platform. Special wishbone filtering dampens the impacts of our country's terrible tarmac and the variable stiffness springs and shock absorbers deliver surprising levels of comfort whether the vehicle is loaded or unloaded. Citroen also claims that refinement is much improved this time round. And, as before, there's the option of a Grip Control traction system. We also like the 'Driving time warning system' which flashes up a dash warning after two hours of uninterrupted driving at speeds of 40mph and above.

This Citroen Dispatch may share much under the skin with its Peugeot Expert PSA Group stablemate but visually at least, it has its own distinct personality, Citroen's designers having gone for a fluid, softer face with a short bonnet and high headlamps. Visually, it's quite hard to pigeon-hole this vehicle into a particular market category. You can see that it's bigger than something like a Berlingo or Kangoo-sized Peugeot Partner but you might question whether it has the volume to take on medium range vans of Transit or Vito size. As we'll see, it has.

On board, Citroen's designers have concentrated on improving ergonomics and driving comfort this time round. You get the usual high seating position and three-person bench. And there's certainly more cab storage space - 49-litres of it in the standard van version. Providing you haven't bought in with entry-level trim, the first thing you'll probably notice about the restyled interior is 7-inch colour touchscreen that's now been added. It can work with voice control and offers the usual 'phone and media features, plus an optional 3D Navigation system.

Make no mistake, that the Citroen Dispatch mid-sized van is the most important we've seen since the launch of the original Berlingo twenty years ago. It forms the basis for a luxury MPV in the brand's passenger car range (badged the Space Tourer) and will be key in persuading many companies currently using Ford Transit Customs, Vauxhall Vivaros and Volkswagen Transporters that they really should be taking a closer look at what the Double Chevron brand has to offer in the medium range segment.

Click here to find out more about our Citroen Dispatch range
Renault Trafic

Renault Trafic

The Renault Trafic medium-sized van returns. Many of you might not have realised it needed updating, but this third-generation model is bigger and better finished than before. There's a choice of two lengths and two roof heights for the panel vans and the cabins have been designed to function as mobile offices. The powerplants on offer are either a 1.6 turbodiesel or a 1.6 twin turbodiesel, both engines available with two different power outputs. A Renault Trafic lease is good business.

Renault passenger vehicles have embraced the idea of the downsized turbocharged engine to boost efficiency and now the commercials follow suit. The engines that power the Renault Trafic are both relatively small 1.6-litre turbodiesel units but punch above their weight. Most buyers will be drawn to the single turbo 1.6-litre unit, available in either dCi 90 or dCi 115 power outputs. In order to match the sort of grunt Mercedes can deliver with its rival Vito, Renault also debuts the Energy dCi 120 and 140 engines. Powered by two turbochargers working together, these engines combine excellent performance with decent fuel economy. From just 1,500rpm, the Energy dCi 120 cranks out a hefty peak torque of 320Nm, while the dCi 140 variant delivers 340Nm so there's plenty of muscle even if you're loaded to the roof.

Renault claims that these power and torque figures are what you would have previously expected from a 2.0-litre engine in this class and that view is borne out by the figures. A Volkswagen Transporter, for instance, comes in 84 and 102PS power outputs at the entry level, while the Renault Trafic now comes in 90 and 125PS guises, so it's even better than Renault's word. The driving position, though not as lofty as in some models, nevertheless affords a decent view up the road. You get big door mirrors to help with manoeuvring and tried and tested transmissions.

True, there's only so much a van designer can do with a rectangular box with a wheel at each corner, but there's clearly been a concerted effort to distinguish the Renault Trafic from the workaday LCV norm. As is the vogue with current Renaults, you get an outsized bonnet badge, flanked in this instance by a black trim strip and a pair of huge headlight pods that seem to have started climbing towards the windscreen pillars. The outside of the Trafic isn't the big story here though.

Renault has really gone to work on the cabin. Gone are the expanses of uninspiring grey plastics, with higher-end versions getting a chromed console surround, along with a chromed gear lever knob and chrome-finished front speaker trims, plus lidded dashboard stowage and Java upholstery. Much improved seats offer more shape and higher density foam padding. The front bench seat incorporates lateral strengthening for both the seat cushions and passenger seat backs. Comfort is further enhanced by the inclusion of an armrest built into the door panel. Compared with the previous generation Renault Trafic II, the driver's seat cushion has been lowered by 36mm, while the seat back is more reclined in order to get closer to the sort of driving position associated with MPVs. Combined with the height- and reach-adjustable steering wheel, the number of ways the seat can be adjusted (height, fore-aft and seat back angle) enables the driver to find the most comfortable position. Thanks to a pump system, the height of the driving position can be adjusted through a range of 60mm.

The third generation Renault Trafic mid-sized van deals with most of the issues raised by satisfied users of its predecessor. With far more efficient engines, a more spacious load bay, a hugely practical cab and better quality throughout, this is the vehicle that's suddenly going to have Volkswagen and Mercedes executives wishing they'd ploughed some R&D budget into their wares a bit earlier.

In fact, in some ways, the Renault Trafic looks to have posed some questions that many well-established rivals look completely incapable of answering. It's a van that shows evidence of a deep attention to detail and a quest by its maker to understand how its products are used. That's refreshing. But one thing, Renault. Don't leave it thirteen years until we get the next one, hey?

Click here to find out more about our Renault Trafic range