If you’re after a small van that will carry you and your cargo around tight city streets to multiple drops, or if you just need something that will fit into a small garage or driveway, there’s plenty of choice on offer.
For the fashion-conscious there’s the funky MINI Clubvan, while if you want the maximum possible interior space for the minimum exterior dimensions a Fiat Fiorino could be the van for you.
Alternatively, a slightly larger van like the versatile Fiat Doblo Cargo, Transit Connect or VW Caddy will suit those who need to go on longer trips, or require more space.
The new Volkswagen Caddy has a high quality feel throughout and is probably the most comfortable small van on the UK market. There are short and long-wheelbase models, plus the Caddy Life MPV and five-seat crew van available. All the controls are well laid out, safety provision is very generous and the Caddy feels robustly built.
The Fiat Doblo Cargo’s versatile range of interior sizes and body styles is one of this small van's biggest assets. It’s also great to drive, offers up to 64mpg fuel economy, and provides secure, smooth handling thanks to independent suspension. The interior doesn’t feel as high quality as you'll find in some rivals but carrying capacity in the rear can be huge thanks to Fiat offering two wheelbases and two roof heights.
The Transit Connect is probably still the driver's choice in the smnall van market despite competition from the Fiat Doblo Cargo. The dash layout is a little complex and rivals beat the Connect for ourtright capacity but Ford's offering has few serious flaws. It's a good-looking machine with easy access to its load area and good standard safety kit.
The Vauxhall Combo is based on the Fiat Doblo Cargo, so it provides a flexible and good-sized load space, a class-leading payload, impressive economy (many of its engines are shared with its Fiat cousin) and impressively surefooted handling.
The range isn't quite as extensive, however, as Vauxhall doesn't offer some of the larger bodystyles that Fiat sells. That, and the fact that stability control is extra on all models means it has to give best to the Fiat.
The Renault Kangoo, launched in its most recent guise in 2013, is a versatile urban delivery van that majors on being good to drive and providing impressive fuel efficiency (up to 60mpg economy is possible from the 1.5 dCi turbodiesel engine, depending on which version you buy).
It's also great value for money, and shares much of its engineering with the Mercedes Citan, although it is significantly cheaper, and both vans are very different from one another, both to look at and to drive.
The tiny one-box Fiat Fiorino is very much built for city work, but it nevertheless scores well for load space and practicality, with up to 2.8 cubic metres of load space if you specify the folding front passenger seat, which is deeply impressive for a van that’s just 3.8 metres long. Its 660kg payload also easily beats those of car-derived vans such as the Ford Fiesta.
Citroen’s most efficient Berlingo small van promises fuel economy of up to 62.8mpg, with CO2 emissions of 118g/km. This makes it among the most economical vans on the market.
Inside, the Berlingo offers a long load bay and a range of bulkhead options and seat configurations. It’s also notable for offering the option of twin front passenger seats on some models - a first for the small van class. There’s also a fully electric option available, which is ideal for companies wanting to make short urban journeys.
The Mercedes Citan feels more refined and comfortable than its Renault Kangoo cousin, with which it shares its diesel engine options, but it is somewhat more expensive than the Renault. Still, for some the added gloss of the Mercedes brand’s premium reputation will be worth the extra initial outlay.
Service intervals of 24,000 miles are impressive and way better than for any of its rivals, too, while standard stability control across all models is a real bonus - and unique in this class.
If the unglamorous nature of most commercial vehicles is something you want to avoid, then the chic MINI Clubvan could be the ideal choice. Not only does it shares its funky styling with the MINI Clubman estate, it also gets that car’s upmarket interior - giving it easily the most plush, comfortable cabin in its class.
As with most car-derived vans, the Clubvan also drives well, and being based on a MINI makes it even more fun. The only downsides are a rather restricted load bay and the fact that it’s available in just one bodystyle.
Honourable mention: The Ford Fiesta van (pictured top) is a bit too small to really be worth looking at for most people, but it is brilliant fun to drive. We say go for the MINI Clubvan instead.
The tiny Citroen Nemo benefits greatly from the fact that it gets a bespoke body, giving it considerably more load space than car-derived rivals. Yet because it’s based on a Fiat Punto chassis (it’s built alongside the Fiat Fiorino and Peugeot Bipper in Turkey), it’s also good to drive.
As well as decent loadspace and practicality, the Nemo also offers a payload of 660kg - impressive given its compact dimensions. This is responsible for the stiffly sprung suspension, however, which gives the van a bouncy part-laden ride,
The Peugeot Bipper is almost identical to the Fiat Fiorino and Citroen Nemo, which means you get a small van with a compact footprint but generous interior space, which can allow up to 2.8 cubic metres of cargo, provided you specify the optional folding passenger seat.
However, Peugeot only offers the Bipper with one engine option and bodystyle. So although it offers up to 69mpg and CO2 emissions of just 109g/km from its efficient 1.3-litre diesel if you specify the automated manual gearbox, it has to give best to its cousins from Citroen and Fiat.