‘Forget leasing a car, a cut-price van should be your next everyday vehicle’

With some huge savings to be had, Mike Rutherford thinks a van could be the perfect vehicle

Opinion - Fiat Scudo

Remember the days when you were a kid? With millions of other scruffy, like-minded nippers, you spent dreamy days of childhood vowing to one day own and drive cars built by some of the great motor manufacturers from faraway places your even scruffier geography teachers never told you about. You know, Wolfsburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Coventry, Solihull and other ‘exotic’ (or not) motor cities.    

Then before you know it, you’re in work, earning a few quid and able to at least buy used versions of sensible, reasonably priced models such as the Volkswagen Golf, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class or any number of ageing Jaguars and Land Rovers. The best, most carefree days of our adult lives? Probably.

Later, when the novelty of those all-too-familiar brands starts to wear off, the emerging marques that somehow feel much newer, fresher and cooler begin to float your boat. I defected to Audi, Honda and Jeep.

But after you’ve been there, done that and bought the T-shirt, where next? After attending the global launch of the Lexus brand in Japan in 1989, I eventually purchased a used example. I almost bought an Infiniti too, just before the brand crashed and burned in Britain due to desperately low sales – the very reason the cars were so exclusive.

Hyundai, Genesis and one or two others have emerged in recent years as unlikely but credible ‘alternative’ brands of quality. And as of 2023, BYD is gatecrashing the party by asking UK buyers who’ve become a bit bored with, or can
no longer afford, top-class cars from the Germans, Brits and, more lately, the Japanese, Americans and Koreans: why not go Chinese? It’s a valid and important question.

As are these two. Why stick with cars? How about massively more versatile light commercial vehicles? In the 2010s, I went through a bit of a mid-life automotive crisis while buying and running a fun but scarily slow 1969 VW bus, before coming to my senses and switching to a VW Transporter Combi. The highly recommended latter looked like a van, drove like a car and safely seated four or five people in two rows. Plus its luggage compartment was small yet spacious enough to carry plenty of beach and bike gear, as well as serving as a makeshift glamping pod in balmy music festival seasons.

Even the Marcus Rutherford Foundation’s far less car-like, long-wheelbase/high-roof Peugeot Boxer cancer-awareness van, professionally equipped to official NHS ambulance standards, is a vehicle that I never get tired of driving during the two or three days of every week that I’m very happily behind the wheel. Yup, I really am suggesting that after years, perhaps decades, of owning or leasing all the ‘right’ cars, you might at least like to consider a state-of-the-art, cut-price van as your next everyday vehicle.   

Last week, I saw Fiat Professional Norwich marketing the 2023 pure-electric Fiat Scudo business crew van with two rows of seats and five miles on the clock for £29,332 plus VAT instead of the recommended retail price of £50,185 plus VAT. That’s a mega-discount of £20,853 plus VAT, which makes it Deal of the Day and Bargain of the Year rolled into one.

Would you consider a van as your next daily? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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