The MAN TGE 3.5-tonne panel van delivers a quality driving experience to rival its market-leading German rival, as Steve Hobson discovered on a 600 mile road trip.
When Commercial Motor needed to deliver a load of archive back issues to the Commercial Vehicle Museum in Leyland, MAN Truck and Bus kindly stepped in with the loan of a TGE 3.140 long-wheelbase panel van.
Even before turning the key, the similarities are obvious, the TGE’s black-faced instruments with clear white numerals, small leather-look steering wheel and simple three-knob heater controls all reminiscent of the Sprinter.
Once under way, the TGE does not disappoint the discerning driver. The ride is smooth and plush while the 2-litre, 4-cylinder engine producing 138hp is as powerful as the striking lion graphics on the van’s sides. The slick manual gearbox and light clutch made swapping the six cogs a doddle while the steering and brakes were both light and easy to use.
The central computer display was nice and simple, with a gentle reminder to change up at the right revs and a little graphic of two cars driving nose to tail if you are fool enough break the two second rule. A button on the right stalk scrolls through a host of other data including the average fuel consumption which hovered around 44mpg at the legal limit on the motorway.
The cruise control switches on the left stalk are clearly from the VAG parts bin as they were familiar to this Skoda driver - though the cancel switch is very light and all too easy to push over to turn off cruise control.
For a demo vehicle the lack of air con was a surprise but MAN wasn’t to know this was heat wave week. More surprising on a van this size was the lack of any reversing sensors or cameras to help manoeuvre what is at almost 4.5m quite a long vehicle. The seats were very comfy and we were grateful they were cloth rather than sticky leather as temperatures soared to 32 degrees.
The cavernous 14.4cu m load space with a flat ply floor was ideal for the half tonne or so load of CM archives and with a maximum payload of 1,229kg it could easily swallow three pallets, one through the huge sliding side door if necessary.
The driver sits up high but access is easy with two steps up and a handy grab handle. The seating position gives a great view forward through the huge windscreen with acceptably narrow A pillars and behind through large two-piece mirrors. These had to be adjusted manually however.