Sevel mid-range scoops Van of the Year

The jury for the International Van of the Year (IVoY) competition, as with its truck equivalent, is made up of leading commercial vehicle journalists representing 20 European countries. This year's election has seen the new Sevel mid-range scoop gold by a massive margin of 50 points. Marketed as the Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert and Fiat Scudo, the stylish new van won the award with 108 points out of 140. Renault's new Kangoo was second with 58 points and the Nissan Cabstar/Renault Maxity took bronze with 29.

The IVoY jury particularly praised the on-road comfort of the Sevel range when both empty and laden. The fact it has been designed for passenger purposes offers an obvious benefit for the driver, with driveability and manoeuvrability greatly improved over the outgoing model. In addition to developing a commercial vehicle with the comfort, handling, chassis stiffness and safety standards of a passenger car, the engineers have also ensured the braking system is superb and the availability of ESP and several air bags is much appreciated. The Sevel van also meets the European ECE 12-03 safety standard for cars.

One of the key innovations for this class of commercial vehicle is the air suspension on the rear axle which can be ordered as a competitively priced option. The jury commended the extra comfort of the air suspension, and also the fact that the overall height can be lowered to less than 1.9m. This makes it possible to enter many multi-storey car parks that are normally off-limits for vans. Furthermore, the fuel consumption of the vehicles as tested by several of the jury members has been very convincing.

With an increase in the wheelbase length and the ability to specify chassis-cab versions, the new Sevel appeals to a wide range of customers. In combination with the high roof and higher payloads, this pushes the light Sevel range into a larger category of light CVs. The light Sevel is now available in loading capacities from 5-7m3 and payloads up to 1,200kg. A variety of passenger transport versions are also available.

Much attention has been paid to the loading space. The width between the wheelcases is now wide enough to load a euro-pallet, while the design of the cab makes room for extra long loads. When air suspension is fitted, the loading floor can be lowered to 490mm.

In summary the Scudo-Dispatch-Expert is a well designed, competitively priced, economical vehicle which fulfils the most important criterion of the IVoY jury - a contribution to the efficiency of the transport of goods by road.

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What is Sevel?

Sevel (Societe Europeen Vehicule e Legiers) is a joint-venture company between Fiat and PSA Peugeot-Citroen which was formed in 1978 for the development and production of light CVs. The company has two factories: one in Italy, producing the Ducato/Relay/Boxer, and one in France, producing the Scudo/Dispatch/Expert. The new Sevel light compact van - launched at Amsterdam - is the fruit of a 2005 three-way joint-venture between Fiat, PSA and Tofas in Turkey.

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The also-rans

While the Sevel product emerged victorious by a decent margin there were some strong candidates this year. Taking the silver medal was the Renault Kangoo, a late entry onto the shortlist by virtue of it going into series production ahead of the public debut. The Kangoo is a stunning new product offered in van and MPV format, with everything changed apart from the driveline. Now based on the Scenic platform rather than the Clio as with the outgoing model, the Kangoo benefits from much-improved handling and a wider body space.

The new Nissan Cabstar/Renault Maxity filled the third spot. The forward-control vehicle looks on paper to be one of the leaders in the sector, with the best turning circle and one of the lightest chassis.

The remaining places in the shortlist were filled by the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi and the LDV Maxus.