For the first time, this year’s What Van? Awards in Britain, the light commercial vehicle of the year title is shared among three outstanding new vans.
The vehicles can be distinguished by their respective brands’ styling cues, but under the skin the Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert and Toyota ProAce are essentially the same product and all are equally deserving of the prize.
The trio have entered the biggest-selling sector of the UK light commercial market and one that is extremely competitive with high-quality models such as the Ford Transit Custom, Renault Trafic, Vauxhall Vivaro, Volkswagen Transporter and Mercedes Vito all vying for attention.
PSA Peugeot-Citroen builds the new Dispatch, Expert and Proace at its Sevelnord plant near Lille in northern France and the vans represent a significant step up in terms of quality, practicality and economy compared with their predecessors.
They are also crucial for all three brands if they are to realise their ambitions of establishing themselves at the top table in the LCV marketplace.
What Van?’s panel of experienced judges considered the model to be “an outstanding new van that has come to the market this year”, adding that the new Dispatch “breaks new ground in the largest and most important sector of the market.”
James Dallas, editor of What Van?, commented: “The Citroën Dispatch represents a big step up compared with its predecessor in terms of quality, refinement and practicality. It should propel the brand to the forefront of what is a very competitive market sector. The new Dispatch brings useful innovations to the market and it now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best medium vans on offer.”
The What Van? Awards are voted for by an expert panel of judges who use their combined decades of experience to decide the winners. The awards highlight the best products, companies and services in the industry, and reward those making the biggest difference to van operators and drivers.
The design of the new trio was inspired by the world of passenger cars and SUVs. Its styling is fluid and practical, with the new modular platform allowing them to be available in three lengths. Its practicality is illustrated by an optional hands-free function for the sliding side doors and numerous improvements in the cabin that make the life of the driver significantly easier.
In addition to useful everyday functions like hands-free entry and start, the new models also features technology such as mirror screen smartphone connectivity that brings the van right up to date.
On behalf of one of the three beneficiaries Louise Murphy, Citroen Ireland’s marketing director, said: “We are delighted that What Van? magazine has voted new Citroën Dispatch the best new light commercial vehicle. In a highly competitive market to gain industry recognition on such an important new product is very important to us.”