First Drive

First Drive: MAN TGE

The story:
Category:
Key rival:VW Crafter
On sale:Now
MAN TGE 3.140 SWB High
Price:£28,781 (ex VAT)
MPG:36.3mpg
Power:140hp
Payload:1323kg
Load length/height/width:3,450mm/1,961mm

The MAN TGE is a new departure for a company more famous for its trucks and buses, and its large van is based on the new Volkswagen Crafter. This comes as a direct benefit of Volkswagen acquiring control of MAN in 2012.

The TGE range comprises several models and options, due to be gradually phased in. Initially, the range will include panel vans and chassis cabs, while the combi/crew cab and minibus versions are due to be launched at the CV show in Hanover next year.

TOP SERVICE

These new vans mean that MAN now offers a range of commercial vehicles ranging in size from 3 tonnes to 250 tonnes. While most competitors in the light commercial space are primarily car manufacturers who have moved up to vans, MAN is a truck manufacturer extending downwards. 

This means there is a major cultural difference when it comes to support and maintenance. Back-up in the truck sector has a ‘can do’ approach of ‘get the vehicle back working’, contrasting with a more regular service offering for cars and vans. 

MAN and its 65-strong dealer network operate 16-hour days, six days a week. It also offers flexible maintenance contracts and a 24-hour breakdown service. Each van is sold with a three-year, unlimited-mileage, full manufacturer’s warranty.

“MAN is a truck maker, which means there’s a big difference when it comes to support”

 

As with its Volkswagen Crafter sibling, the TGE panel vans are available in three lengths: 5,986mm standard, 6,836mm long and a 7,391mm extra-long version.  The standard has a 3,640mm wheelbase and the other two are rather longer at 4,490mm. The standard model has a normal roof height with 1,726mm inside. The high-roof version can be ordered on any of the length models with an internal height just shy of two metres at 1,961mm. If even more height is needed, a super-high roof can be supplied, but on only the two longer versions. This has an internal height of 2,189mm and an external height of 2,789mm.  

2017 MAN TGE - Image 11The chassis/cab models are available in the same length and wheelbase dimensions as the panel vans. Their height is 2,312mm, about 40mm less than the standard panel van, and can be supplied as either bare chassis or with a platform body.  A variety of conversions are expected, with a number of bodybuilders assessing the potential for customising vehicles from the TGE range. 

The entry-level MAN TGE starts at 3.0 tonnes permitted total weight, rising to 5.5 tonnes at the top of the range. A trailer coupling allows for an additional 3.5 tonnes of cargo. 

ON THE ROAD

All models are powered by a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine that is available with power outputs of 102hp, 122hp, 140hp or 177hp and after driving a variety of these vans we can confirm that it is a remarkably quiet installation with little vibration making its way into the cabin. 

Presently the vans are available as either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, with a rear-wheel-drive version coming on stream in 2018. This latter version is set to appeal to customers who require the heavier weight categories and a greater towing ability. There is a choice of two gearboxes, a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. The cab is comfortable with plenty of space to put things: under the passenger seat, in the doors, under and on top of the dashboard. A toolbox is under the floor.

Every van in the TGE range is fitted with an electromechanical steering assembly. This is standard fit because it is required for the various safety and assistance features that are offered. Probably the most significant of these is emergency brake assist (EBA), which is fitted as standard and comes alongside a crosswind assist function, fatigue detection and multi-collision brake assist.

There are various optional safety equipment features, too, and the list includes parking assist and trailer manoeuvring assist functions, both of which depend on fitting the van with all-round proximity sensors.  Easy-to-understand dash-mounted displays enable hands-off manoeuvring.

The TGE will also come with a device called a RIO box. This collects relevant data from the vehicle and driver and makes it available for analysis through digital apps. It can be used in mixed fleets, and the apps provide data on the maintenance status of the vehicle and allows analysis of data such as engine revs, the average speed, fuel level or brake usage by the driver. OEM and partner services may be added. It requires no operating system or software and can be used simply via an internet browser. The RIO box will be fitted to all TGE vans as standard from mid 2018.  

 

NORMAN BARTLETT

The verdict

The TGE is already a fine range of vans and will offer even greater choice by this time next year. They are comfortable to drive, particularly the automatic version, while the optional assist functions ease the pressure on drivers on city delivery work. The clincher is the warranty and impressive after sales support through the MAN dealer network.