van or estate?

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van or estate?

Postby defever » Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:39 pm

I'm not sure where I should post this, but I'm hoping I'm in the right place...

My long time companion Rover 200 is becoming more and more incontinent with her fluids, showing signs of epilepsy with her lights. Shes lost her umph... I've looked after her really well and she's been a brilliant workhorse. Adopted in Isle of Man, I bought her in Plymouth. She's conquered the rugged trenches of deep Devon/Cornwall, the mud and flood of Wales, and harsh blistering cold of Scotland. Believe it or not, I can fit my 9'2" log in it! (but all seats folded...) It hurts to think of parting with her but I can't fight against time...

SO... I'm in search of what to get for my next vehicle. Budget is tight in this hard economic time so realistically looking at 100,000+mileage secondhand vehicle on a budget of £2,500. I'm looking for something bigger than a hatchback with the following in mind:

- Good fuel efficiency (combined 45+mpg, I hardly go faster than 65mph, fuel price is not funny these days)
- At least four legal seats with belts (for work and social purpose)
- Rear seat that folds into a bed or folds flat (for sleeping and potentially for 9ft longboard)
- Boot door that lifts up (tailgate style?) for a tiny shelter / hanging wet wetsuit

- Not so fussed about tall roof as I'm happy changing outside (under the boot door)
- Would be nice to have cruise control for long distance drive...
- I probably need at least 2.0L Diesel engine for a van / estate to work efficiently...?

I think the typical option would be a cheap ex-AA T4 and modify it myself... "everyone" has either T4 or T5.
What about alternatives to T4s such as Vivaro, Transit, Trafic, Vito? Why are T4/5s more popular than the alternative choices?

And I think an estate car can be an option for what I'm looking for. Like Mondeo, Octavia, A4, Passat...
Any pro/cons of using estate from your experience?

It would be great to hear what fellow weeders drive to have an idea of what to look out for.

Many thanks

E
Last edited by defever on Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: van or estate?

Postby Philshoz » Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:11 pm

T4........all the way.

Any number of them on Autotrader but needle in a haystack finding a good one.

Good luck. I love mine and can change inside, big plus...... :-D
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Re: van or estate?

Postby eric_t » Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:13 pm

I've got a Renault Grand Scenic - its a 7 seater but the back 2 live under the boot and u dont know they're there. u can remove completely the other back 2 (prety much making it good size van), they're reliable (well mine is), cheap to run and about a year ago I got mine, 55 plate with 50k on it for well under 2 grand. Best of both worlds in my view :)
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Re: van or estate?

Postby Biarritz Taxi » Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:51 pm

Wouldn't touch a Renualt Trafic if I was you. Used them for the past 8 years in the Alps and Biarritz, they are fine up to 100k then after that things just start falling off.
Have a look at this: http://www.parkers.co.uk/vans/news-and- ... s-of-2012/
You won't be buying new but might give you some useful information.
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Re: van or estate?

Postby danny1 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:00 pm

Your not gonna get 45mpg out of a t4 unless you stay around 55mph and are good efficient driver. Certainly not around town
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Re: van or estate?

Postby danny1 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:04 pm

Any van really

Max I get from mine driving v carefully is about 48-50 driving 55-60
on motorway with a bit of slip streaming
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Re: van or estate?

Postby rodent » Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:07 pm

eric_t wrote:I've got a Renault Grand Scenic - its a 7 seater but the back 2 live under the boot and u dont know they're there. u can remove completely the other back 2 (prety much making it good size van), they're reliable (well mine is), cheap to run and about a year ago I got mine, 55 plate with 50k on it for well under 2 grand. Best of both worlds in my view :)


These are great to drive but an absolute bugger on fuel, also the little things about it drove me nuts like the battery going flat all the time and a bit of plastic holding the door window in place costing fortune to replace.

And don't start me on the radio thats password protected everything the battery goes flat
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Re: van or estate?

Postby wigsy » Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:15 pm

I'd look at a Passat or the AWD Octavia..

That or, one of the VW Caddys? I've got a 2l diesel in my Golf and it'll pull in 60+mpg on long trips!
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Re: van or estate?

Postby ATTMFKH » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:56 pm

I had a passat estate with roof rails - good to sleep in......

Currently on VW Sharan - remove all back seats you've got a small van .- full size double bed in there ............. selling if you're interested.
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Re: van or estate?

Postby Poo Stance » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:47 pm

Never had a van. If you're looking to sleep all year round then maybe that;s the way to go if you can insulate it a bit, but that would probably add weight and fuel consumption.

I've got a Passat. Does 55mpg on long trips easy without too much thinking. 45mpg if I'm flooring it.

Only real benefit of a van I can see is getting changed in it. But then you could always park so your boot opens to protect from the wind, or just get changed in the lee of someone else's van? If that's the case... vans are for pussies :shock: :p
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Re: van or estate?

Postby danny1 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:31 am

Once u have a fully loaded van with proper conversion- you won't go back to a car. Useful in all life situations. The amount I've saved in hotels and taxis having a van must be quite a bit

I virtually live in mine sometimes

And if the wife ever kicks me out I gotta home
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Re: van or estate?

Postby defever » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:12 am

Thanks everyone for your comments. Very useful points!

T4 is very tempting. I agree with Danny1, it's pretty much glamping on wheels. But it's still a guzzler. I've seen few friends becoming proud owners of T4s and I've also seen equal amount of friends give up their T4/T5 due to the high running cost...

Is there a van that's more economical than T4? Or are they (Transit, Vivaro, Vito, etc) pretty much the same?

Where as an estate, I think, can be alot more economical (Poo you're right), still have good BHP and space (for boards and to sleep), but without the high roof. An option of AWD is attractive (assuming MPG would be lower than FWDs but similar to 2WD vans?), some places I've been in deep Cornwall and Wales do need 4x4 to get by (I wish I could afford Shogun or Navara or some monster truck!). But there must be some downsides to an estate, why don't I see more estates than a van in a surf spot car park?

Thanks ATT for the offer, and rodent it's a fine idea to consider MPVs as well. But I only need 4 - 5 seats, I hardly had a situation where I wish I had more seats. Even if the back seats are detachable, I think they are bit too much for my need. It may be the perfect option when I have my own nuclear family.

Any further thoughts are most appreciated. Thanks again!
Last edited by defever on Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: van or estate?

Postby WP101 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:41 am

you need fuel economy 50+mpg very cheap parts & servicing, etc.

if your driving around on your own most of the time dont get a van get an estate

ive had 2 of these and they both did 60+mpg you can fit a 6ft airbed in the back. great, simple cars, not cool to look at if thats what your after ?

its amazing how many sheep think a T4/T5 is a prerequisite for surfing, i had t4 and i liked it but it was amazing how much cheaper an estate was to run.

http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/ ... ?logcode=p

FFS DONT BUY FRENCH :lol:
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Re: van or estate?

Postby Biarritz Taxi » Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:11 am

defever wrote:Is there a van that's more economical than T4? Or are they (Transit, Vivaro, Vito, etc) pretty much the same?


You'll have to compare the stats. In my Trafic (I have to have one because it has the biggest load space) I average around 37MPG. That's mostly motorway miles and either with snow tyres fitted (winter) or air con blasting (summer). Thats for the passenger version so already quite a lot of weight in there.

My last car was a MK3 Mondeo estate. Had a lovely big boot and Quickclear windscreen - very handy. Get some 2-inch high density foam from a shop like this: http://www.smfoam.co.uk cut to the size of your boot with the seats down and you'll have a great night's sleep.
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Re: van or estate?

Postby Chris F » Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:38 am

mate got a Toyota Hi-Ace van a while back, super reliable and a fair bit cheaper than T5 etc. Only downside is it's a rearwheel drive, so pretty poor in snow, but that's unlikely to be a major problem often, and if it is you can just get snowtyres.
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Re: van or estate?

Postby defever » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:36 pm

Chris F wrote:mate got a Toyota Hi-Ace van


Everyone drives that in Japan. Super popular family car next to the anorexic Suzuki van!

WP101 wrote:ive had 2 of these and they both did 60+mpg you can fit a 6ft airbed in the back. great, simple cars, not cool to look at if thats what your after ?


I think you convinced me there. Some estates have hideous behinds, but Mondeo / Octavia is tolerable and doesn’t look weird driving to work compared to flashing T4 (office work yawn).

Biarritz Taxi wrote:Get some 2-inch high density foam from a shop like this: http://www.smfoam.co.uk cut to the size of your boot with the seats down and you'll have a great night's sleep.


Brilliant idea! But storing the foam might be bit difficult, I think. I wonder if you can roll them up like a sleeping bag? I usually sleep on my 6'0" double bag and two thin sleeping bags (adopted from kind friends) in a tent and that gives me a comfy sleep. I slept in my car the same way last week with passenger seat tilted down but doesn't fold flat so I woke up with bad neck and shoulder...can’t do that for consecutive nights…

As much as I would love to be a T4 sheep, it’s financially unrealistic and perhaps little too much for my needs. Looking back, I can imagine only few times a year that I could really benefit from having a van. Having said that if I do get one, then I may use it more often (and lose my job from AWOLing too much). Egg or chicken.

My thought is going towards getting an estate. Anyone had a bad experience with owning an estate with surfing in mind?? I’d be interested to hear your say (if any)…
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Re: van or estate?

Postby rodent » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:38 pm

I've got a citroen picasso and it should fit your needs, 2L diesel super cheap to drive and plenty of space for longboards in the car 9'4 and easy to get into and out of wetsuits inside if its to cold or raining
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Re: van or estate?

Postby REO » Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:42 pm

Caddy maxi life or the slightly older vw passat estate with common rail injection.. seems to me most if not all of the newer vw's / audis are full of problems including t5's (replaced everything on mine!) bmw or honda for me from now on..
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Re: van or estate?

Postby ATTMFKH » Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:18 pm

mate who's a mechanic says that ^^ Japanese or German
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Re: van or estate?

Postby insideout » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:35 pm

You'll struggle to get your hands on an ex AA T4 with a budget of £2500.

If i was you i'd get a diesel estate ford focus, for £2500 you should pick up a decent one with under 100k on the clock. Plenty of boot space, reliable and relatively cheap to maintain.
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Re: van or estate?

Postby Biarritz Taxi » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:24 pm

Biarritz Taxi wrote:Get some 2-inch high density foam from a shop like this: http://www.smfoam.co.uk cut to the size of your boot with the seats down and you'll have a great night's sleep.


Brilliant idea! But storing the foam might be bit difficult, I think. I wonder if you can roll them up like a sleeping bag?[/quote]

Yes that is a problem, it doesn't roll up very well. I used to fold it in half to store it in the boot and then put it in between the sofa and the wall in the house.
I also meant to add that I use a cotton sheet with it as well - makes it really feel like home.
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Re: van or estate?

Postby cjs » Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:01 pm

I have a Jap imported Hiace camper and love it but it's a 91 and drinks diesel, a modern one would make a great day weekend camper and once you have the comfort of a camper you will never look back but they aren't for everybody.

I've also got a 02 Octavia estate, great car but two issues, low ground clearance epically front bumper and sump. Also with the seats down there is a two inch step in the back. A passat is bigger and the seat fold down flat to but check before you buy.

Saying that the skoda is a great car and will give you 55 mpg if you don't cannon it, even up to 60+mpg a lower speeds. 1.9 TDI has plenty of power. I've slept in the back using an air bed but not since I got the camper.
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Re: van or estate?

Postby swiggy » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:52 am

My thoughts.. AWD will knock 20 % off your fuel mileage right off, even the newest AWD systems have a bunch of losses, older AWD systems have really bad parasitic losses with viscous couplings etc. If you really want it then fair enough, but I drive a RWD estate everywhere in the snow, I wouldn't get any further with AWD, the only limiting factor is just ground clearance RWD is only bad in snow if you don't know how to drive a RWD car, its way more controllable once you lose grip than FWD, and way more fun. But oversteer scares a lot of people. Tires make a big difference though. Car choices here suck, there are basically no diesels... Van is nice but its a luxury, I sleep in my estate all the time. It depends whether you mostly roll solo or with a few people, the van is overkill if you are by yourself all the time. Sleeping in an estate with multiple people isn't ideal. I've done it, but never more than one night at a time.

I wouldn't buy a newer VW product either, including audis..
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Re: van or estate?

Postby defever » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:13 am

Bit of consistency to avoid modern VW? I also heard something similar to this. An engeneer friend once told me that VW and Audi are still great and better than some of their rivals but they've reduced their cost since 2000. So their models before X/Y reg are likely to be "better quality" made than the ones after.

VW group has full ownership of Audi, SEAT, Skoda and a share of Suzuki. SEAT and Skoda used to be an absolute joke but were saved by VW. They are indeed cheaper than VW or Audi badge so it's a bargain to get modern SEAT or Skoda with "vorsprung durch technik".

What about Ford? They seem to be consistent with their products and you see them everywhere on the road. Any opinions on Ford estates?

Low ground clearance on estate is new to me, thanks cjs and swiggy for pointing it out.

AWD would be a bonus but better MPG is a priority for me, swiggy. Snow card hardly gets played in UK (well... if it snows or icey and surf's up then I'll just hit popular spots with easy road access). I once wanted a RWD but I could only find mid-top class Volvo, BMW or Mercedes and they were (and still are...) way out of my budget. Less MPG on RWD compared to FWD as well? Interesting point, indeed.

I'm now 70% convinced towards estate than van. Most of my surf trips were solo last year (couch surfing at friends, which I'm grateful but felt really selfish of me) and the rest was camping weekends with friends with vans and good tents.

So, as much as I'd LOVE to own a surf van and terrorise fellow tourists on single lane country roads, may be I should be sensible and get a practical and economical estate...
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Re: van or estate?

Postby Werwulf1919 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:01 pm

This all the way dude.....
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Re: van or estate?

Postby WP101 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:49 pm

^^^^ yes with diesel or lpg conversion :-D

octavia estate? same floorpan as golf estate but not as tough. plastics & paint tend to be weaker, this is where they save manufacturing costs.

Seat's (the brand) are poop, bad, bad electrics, NOT just a rebadged golf/polo etc
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Re: van or estate?

Postby wigsy » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:02 pm

defever wrote:Bit of consistency to avoid modern VW?

Low ground clearance on estate is new to me, thanks cjs and swiggy for pointing it out.

AWD would be a bonus but better MPG is a priority for me, swiggy. Snow card hardly gets played in UK (well... if it snows or icey and surf's up then I'll just hit popular spots with easy road access). I once wanted a RWD but I could only find mid-top class Volvo, BMW or Mercedes and they were (and still are...) way out of my budget. Less MPG on RWD compared to FWD as well? Interesting point, indeed.

So, as much as I'd LOVE to own a surf van and terrorise fellow tourists on single lane country roads, may be I should be sensible and get a practical and economical estate...



I've got a (relatively) modern VW Golf ('05 TDi) and while the quality is excellent, it doesn't seem to have the soul or character that the older models possessed.

Ground clearance is an issue for me, which is why I want something a bit more normal.. Mine is lowered from the factory, and I scrape a lot, especially pulling in to let numpty tourists in their X5s pass me out in the lanes.


Here's my old BMW Wagon, rubbish in the snow, but somewhat fun. Really nice to drive everywhere else though, RWD is nice.

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Re: van or estate?

Postby swiggy » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:45 pm

Not all estates have low ground clearance, just something to be aware of. I was more saying that AWD wouldn't really get me anywhere I can't get without it, since AWD isn't going to stop you scraping. Rural roads here are bad, way worse than anything in the UK.

Werwulf, theres loads of them here. Neighbour has one. Enjoy parking that in most UK parking spots haha. I momentarily considered a $500 example here, then saw the carbed V8 under the bonnet and realised that I could definitely not afford 12 mpg :lol:

Yeah RWD will get probably 10% worse mileage than a FWD, and your only options for RWD really are either really old or more expensive luxury/sporty cars. I drive a volvo 240 estate, but you are doing well to get 35 mpg out of it. 70p a litre petrol helps with that though. I never realised how cheap used cars are in the UK til I moved here. The only way you would get a car made this century for £2500 here is if it had been crashed or something seriously wrong with it..

Ford mondeo estate or something wouldn't be a bad option, I would just buy a dirt cheap one, run it into the ground without really investing any money into it then throw it away if something major happens. They aren't bad cars, I'd choose one over a VW product, they are a hell of lot cheaper and simpler to fix. My main gripe with newer VW is they over-engineer everything. Just too damn complicated, and when stuff inevitably goes wrong it isn't cheap or easy to fix.
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Re: van or estate?

Postby dixie » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:20 pm

ive got a t4 as i like somewhere warm to change in in the winter
i can kip in her in the summer 40 mpg .... but generally slow

i also had a ford focus estate 1999
1.8 td cost 1300 quid
60 mpg 100mph
el cheapo biggo room in back. possible to sleep in rear im about 6ft.

but it aint like havein the van...............SPACE A MONDO
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Re: van or estate?

Postby defever » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:00 pm

dixie wrote:60 mpg 100mph


I like that. I really like that. I can get 52MPG on my incontinent, epileptic, umphless rover at 55mph (I think, my speedo is broken...), BUT that adds extra 60min to my usual journey across Sussex to Devon and I get bored and distracted and I feel bad for holding up the traffic and... simply unsafe and not worth going slow.

As swiggy suggested, I may look into a dirt cheap RWD estate, if any exists (any link please, Mr WP101?), and see how I get on. If it goes well, I'm laughing but if it doesn't then I haven't lost much. And when I get promoted and have enough money to waste on fuel (and donate to SAS, of course) then I may justify myself to get a van.
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