Another German Stopper
In a world of globalisation, the launch of a brand new van from a new manufacturer really is a rarity. That manufacturer is MAN, the German truck maker who in September 2017 adde the large panel Van the TGE to it’s existing range of trucks.
In reality, the TGE is an MAN badged Volkswagen Crafter, with both companies falling under the Volkswagen Group banner. As the latest Crafter is comfortably the best van we’ve driven this year & to our mind usurps the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter as the best large van out there, it seems a safe bet that the MAN version will be just as good & after a couple of hours testing one, it is.
So, MAN are joining the likes of Renault Truck & IVECO in bringing to the market, a light commercial vehicle that will compliment it’s existing truck range, whilst opening up the brand to potential new customers.
The range is available in front-wheel drive, as well as rear-wheel & all-wheel drive & is offered with manual or automatic transmissions.There are three van lengths; Standard 5986mm long with a 3640mm wheelbase; Long, 6836mm long with a 4490mm wheelbase & Extra -long, with a total length of 7391 mm & with a wheelbase of 4490mm.There are also three roof heights on offer. Normal, height 2355mm; High, height 2590mm & Super height 2798mm.
There are also three chassis cab lengths; Standard 5986mm long with a 3640mm wheelbase; Long, 6818mm long with a 4490mm wheel base & finally, Extra long which measures 7211mm & also comes with a 4490mm wheelbase. Chassis comes in Single, available with all three wheelbase & Crew, in Standard & Long length only.
The TGE is also offered with a 3.0 & a 3.5 tonne gross weight, with the entry level 3.0t 6-speed manual in Normal guise retailing from £23,990. Top of the range is the 3.5t 8-speed auto Extra Long which costs £36,693.
The TGE is powered by four 2.0 litre units with 75kW, 90kW,103kW or 130kW are on offer, all as 6-speed manuals with the 103kW & 130kW units also offered in auto guise.
Where Volkswagen have a variety of specs, all TGE’s are the same. It comes as a base specification & the customer can add on whatever extra they require.
Just like the Crafter, the cab is a nice place to be, coming as it does with a car-like ambience to it. The driving position is excellent. Both the switchgear & steering wheel are borrowed from Volkswagen’s car range & the quality of the plastics & finishes rival its cars as well. The instruments are also very much along the line found in the VW passenger car range, with the highlight being the 5” touchscreen that sits in the centre of the dash.
In cabin storage is generous. There are two door pockets in each door, an array of dash-top cubbies with a USB connection plus two 12-volt power supply’s. There are a number of cup holders, a decent-sized glovebox & on our test model the addition of overhead storage above all three front seats, adds even more useful space.
The central passenger seat can be folded down to create a desk, with both front passenger seats turning over to offer even more storage space underneath them. The full steel bulkhead keeps the cabin warm as well as quiet. All three front passenger get great head & legroom, with the drivers seat offering numerous configurations.
In the rear, the TGE I tested, the 3.0 8-speed auto high roof, was finished in a remarkably tight fitting wood-ply, perhaps the best I have experienced in any van, which just adds to the feeling of space on offer, which is 11.3m3. Both rear doors open wide, offering an entry space of 1552mm wide x 1840mm height. The lateral sliding door offers the user an excellent 1311mm width x 1822mm height.
On the road, the TGE with the auto-gearbox is a cinch to drive. Acceleration is smooth & just like the Crafter, it’s a large van that drives more like a medium sized family car. I couldn’t fault it.
Standard spec includes ABS, EBA (electronic brake assist) & ESC, (electronic stability control) so the ride is measured. The range lacks VW’s post-collision assist, which is available as standard on the entire Crafter range. The options list is enormous, with options such as park distance control in front & rear with side assist costing an additional £917, side & curtain airbags for driver & passenger £820 & air-con £1375. So you may want to get your calculator out before you decide how much extra you need in your TGE.
The TGE like the Crafter is brilliant & I cannot praise it highly enough. My question for van operator’s though, is why would you choose a TGE over a Crafter, when they are virtually identical ?
At the CV Show in April, Thomas Hemmerich, managing director of MAN Truck & Bus, told assembled journalists, that in order to differentiate itself from VW dealerships, the TGE network are offering extended opening hours, plusaround-the-clock, 365 days per year mobile 24-hour roadside assistance. So that’s a couple of reasons already.
The TGE matches the Crafter as the best large panel van out there. Whether or not you buy your van from a TGE dealer or from a VW Commercial dealer is up to you, but having spent a bit of time at the MAN Truck dealership in Manchester, I came away believing that their sales, after sales & servicing set-up would be very hard to beat. The choice is yours.
A great van from a great manufacturer 4.5/5.