MAN’s entry into the LCV arena can only be good news for operators big or small, says Neil McIntee.
SECTOR Large van LOAD VOLUME 9.9m3-18.4m3 POWER 102-177hp GROSS WEIGHT 3.0-5.5 tonnes
As an integral part of the global Volkswagen Group, MAN is a well-established player in the UK truck and bus markets. With the launch of the TGE, it is set to take on the highly competitive light commercial vehicle sector for the first time. Available as a panel van, chassis cab and chassis crew cab, TGE is essentially a re-branded version of the award-winning, latest generation Volkswagen Crafter; and that endows it with a pretty good pedigree from the get-go.
With gross vehicle weights ranging from 3.0 tonnes to 5.5 tonnes, TGE can be had with front- or all-wheel drive from launch, with rear-wheel drive variants coming on-stream from mid-2018. There’s a choice of four power outputs from the 2.0-litre VW TDI engine – 102hp (FWD/AWD), 122hp (RWD), 140hp (FWD/RWD/AWD) and bi-turbo 177hp (FWD/RWD/AWD) – the 122hp unit is reserved specifically for twin rear-wheeled, rear-wheel drive models.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard across the drivetrains, but an eight-speed automatic ’box can be specified with the most powerful engine and with front-wheel drive 140hp models, adding an extra £2,000 to the bill. The addition of AdBlue is required to meet Euro 6 emissions levels and an 18-litre tank is provided.
A choice of two wheelbases, three body lengths and three roof heights provide panel van load volumes from 9.9m3 to 18.4m3, load lengths from 3,450mm to 4,855mm and load heights starting at 1,726mm and peaking at 2,189mm. Maximum load width is 1,832mm across the board, reducing to 1,380mm between the wheel boxes (1,030mm for twin wheels). Front-wheel drive models have a rear loading height of 570mm, rising to 670mm for RWD and AWD derivatives and 720mm for those with twin rear wheels.
Gross payloads are dependent on many variables, but as an example standard- and long-bodied front-wheel drive 3.0 and 3.5 tonnes start at 831kg and go up to a maximum of 1,331kg.
There’s one standard specification for TGE and it’s pretty impressive. On top of the de rigeur electronic stability control (incorporating hill start assist and cross wind assist) it includes start-stop with regenerative braking, remote central locking, a solid steel bulkhead, nearside sliding side door, 270°-opening rear doors, driver’s seat with two-way lumbar support, armrest and height adjustment, and a dual passenger seat with storage box. Entertainment and connectivity is taken care of by an MAN Media system with 5-inch screen, steering wheel controls, USB port and Bluetooth.
Just like its close relative, the Crafter, TGE is a very accomplished large panel van in every department. It drives beautifully with predictable handling, the ride quality is excellent and the engines are refined and well isolated from the cab. There is a plentiful supply of cubbies for storage and the driver’s comfort is well taken care of by the supportive multi-adjustable seating.
The icing on the cake for many operators, however, will be the aftersales support that MAN can bring to the table. It’s based on a truck culture set-up to minimise downtime and interfere as little as possible with the smooth running of a business.
What we think
MAN’s entry into the LCV market with the TGE is a natural step for the truck and bus manufacturer and offers operators even more choice when purchasing time rolls around.