The London Motor Show has been moving further and further
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away from commercial vehicles throughout the nineties—and at this, the final show of the decade, they had all but vanished. Only Vauxhall had the courage to put up a dedicated CV display, while Peugeot was the only other manufacturer with a panel van on show (Ford is keeping its powder dry until the new Transit is launched next year). But there were some pearls of interest at Earl's Court, if you looked hard enough...
si Report by CMTechnical Desk. Pictures by Tom Lee.
Pearls sought at Earls Court
IN The year 2000 Challenger made its European debut at the show wTh a range of 2.5 turbo-diesel and 3.0-litre engines, but UK buyers will have to wart until next spring. A new bumper, grille and headlight surrounds give the new model what Mitsubishi describes as a "fresh face". A four-speed automatic box will be offered as an option on the V6 3.0-litre model.
r Until the end of the year Volkswagen will be cutting the Fist price of the Caddy SDI by £400 to £8,951 (on-the-road, ex-VAT), matching the price of the SD model. VW's sister company. Seat, is about to launch an SDI-powered variant of its similar Inca van. The 64hp SDI engine is a naturally aspirated version of the 1.9-litre direct-injection turbo-diesel fitted to the Caddy TIN, which VW still has no plans to import. Compared with the indirectinjection SD model the SDI offers better fuel economy and reduced servicing costs, with intervals extended from 6,000 to 10,000 miles. • Isuzu's new Trooper 3.0 CT Commercial brings heavy truck technology to the let 4x4 market. Its three-litre, charge-cooled twin-cam turbo-diesel enlists the help of Caterpillar's HEUI-A hydraulically activated common-rail fuel system to deliver 157hp with an impressive 333Nm of torque at 2,000rprn. The exterior shares its styling with the recently facelifted passenger version, while the steering and suspension have been revised to give improved handling. The Trooper Commercial costs £16,096 (on-the-road, ex-VAT).
The Kangoo van will soon be available with sliding side doors;
meanwhile Renault showed its passengercarrying, recreational variant. With rear seats folded down it gives a good idea of what the van will look like. Side door operation Is smooth and allows for easy access across the width of the vehicle, while the tailgate fitted to the show model gave good head clearance.
• The Land Rover Defender Heritage combines retro styling with recent technology. Styling cues include colour-coded alloy wheels, grille and leather seat facings, while the bonnet hides the manufacturer's latest Td5 engine (CM13-19 May). More practical options include anti-lock brakes and electronic traction control; prices start from £22,995 on the road.
• Mitsubisft brought along the updated L200 and Challenger models for the year 2000. The L200 double-cab gets a new four-wheel-drive system (borrowed from the Shogun) that allows for selection of two or four-wheel drive at up to 62mph, with an electronic diff-lock control that permits engagement at up to 7mph. Trim levels have been improved too, with central locking and an immobiliser for the GL and a passenger airbag for the GLS 4 Life. • Vauxhall's Brava pickup range gains a new model and a number of improved safety features for the rest of the range. All models now get a driver's airbag, side-impact door bars and a tiltadjustable steering column as standard. From January the line-up will be topped by the Brava Limited, a highly spewed single-cab 4x4. Its equipment list is to feature a passenger airbag, central locking and electric windows and mirrors. Cosmetic changes will include a body-colour grille and bumper, chrome mirrors and door handles, two-tone paint and alloy wheels.
• Fancy a new Mercedes, but your V10 Actros doesn't have enough power? Why not try a Brabus-modified M-class 4x4? This off-roader gets a breathed-on 7.3-litre Mere V12 which produces 582hp. The torque output is staggering: more than 650Nm from 1,000-6,500rpm with a peak of 770Nm at 4,000rpm. Thankfully the top speed is limited to 260km/h and the brakes have been uprated with 370mm discs and six-piston calipers—but with all the extras (including £3,000-worth of carpeting) the Mclass will set you back more than £180,000. For the more practical customer Brabus will re-chip the Vito van's CD' diesel to put out 147hp and 340Nm.
• Nissan used the London show as a launching pad for a "lifestyle" version of its 4x4 Pickup, called the Navara. The dou ble-cab pickup is blessed with extras such as air conditioning, keyless entry and alloy wheels; power comes from the four-cylinder 2.5-turbo-diesel. Depending an the reaction from showviers, the Nevem could go on sale In the UK early next year.
II Completing the line-up of face-lifted Sevel vans, Peugeot introduced the 2000 model year Boxer range, complete with a thorough redesign for the dated cabin area. Instruments, mirrors, heating, interior lighting and storage have all been Improved, but the handy dashmounted gear change remains. I Unfortunately Peugeot's longawaited 206 Van was not at the
show: apparently strong demand for the hatchback saloon means that van production is unlikely to start until spring or summer next year However, the Expert van is now available as a Combi (with rear seating) or a Window Van (without). • The new flagship of Vauxnal,'s Astravar, range, the Sportiv, made its public debut at Earl's Court. Powered by the two-litre, 16-valve DI turbo-diesel, the Sportiv is identified by its metallic silver paint and alloy wheels. The high spec includes air-con, electric windows, sports seats, tinted glass and fog lights.