The standard van has by no means actually captured the creativeness of UK farmers. However with its cavernous space for storing, car-like driving consolation and the choice of four-wheel drive, maybe it’s been neglected.

Many European nations have already cottoned on to the idea, treating consumers to an abundance of four-wheel drive choices.

These vary from compact car-based fashions, such because the VW Caddy, to full-size load luggers, a lot of which can be found with a jacked-up experience peak, off-road tyres and under-belly safety.

There are slimmer pickings within the UK, with no small four-wheel drive vans and only one mid-sized providing – the Volkswagen Transporter.

Nonetheless, there’s extra selection within the giant van sector, the place consumers get to decide on between the full-size Ford Transit, Mercedes’ Sprinter, VW’s Crafter and MAN’s TGE (basically a rebadged model of the VW).

See additionally: Pickup purchaser’s information 2021-22

The explanation for that is purely demand. These bigger four-wheel drive vans discover their manner into forestry work, quarries, and the development business, the place the producers shift sufficient items to warrant itemizing them of their brochures.


© James Andrews

Even so, all bar the Mercedes come from the manufacturing facility in a road-orientated spec with normal tyres and operating peak.

That is the place Welsh agency Volkstrek is available in. It gives Seikel factory-approved elevate kits and off-road gear for VW and MAN vans, which could be fitted to new autos with out affecting the guarantee.

It’s additionally working with some specialists to develop programs to suit the present Ford Transit.

Consumers who need a Transporter or Crafter van tailored can order the automobile from a VW supplier and specify the agency’s 4Motion four-wheel drive system.

They then take it to Volkstrek to have the conversion work carried out.

The MAN could be ordered, in tailored type, direct from the agency. Kits may also be fitted to used vans, offering consumers can discover a respectable instance on the second-hand market.

Off-road MAN vans

To learn how these autos carry out, we headed to Volkstrek’s headquarters in Aberystwyth and obtained behind the wheel of a 180hp MAN TGE 3.180.

This was kitted out with a full Seikel off-road bundle, which guarantees to rework the mud-plugging efficiency. 

In its panel van guise, the TGE 4×4 comes with two wheelbases, three lengths between 6m and seven.4m, and three heights between 2.3m and a couple of.8m.

Two-wheel-drive fashions have a 3.5t towing restrict however, due to the load of the drivetrain, 4×4 fashions are capped at 3t.

In normal type, the TGE comes with a single row of three seats, however there’s a Kombi choice that provides a second row and a set of aspect home windows so the occupants can see out.

Those that choose a separate load space have the choice of chassis-cab and crew-cab fashions, which have an open rear chassis, to which varied our bodies could be connected, corresponding to tippers or chipper bins.

All fashions include a Volkswagen-group 2-litre, four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel – tuned to ship both 140hp or 180hp – which is teamed with a six-speed handbook or eight-speed automated transmission.

The auto is obtainable solely within the increased energy output.

As for the four-wheel drive system, this is similar Haldex on-demand system utilized in VW and Audi vehicles with transverse engines.

This implies the van is predominantly front-wheel drive, with the rears kicking within the prompt the system detects the fronts are beginning to slip – in 83 milliseconds, to be exact.

If a wheel does begin to spin, the ABS-based traction management system additionally dabs the brake on that nook to redirect energy to these wheels that do give grip.

For added help, there’s the choice of including a rear axle diff-lock, which Volkstrek recommends to all consumers thinking about correct off-roading spec from the manufacturing facility. It’s not a straightforward characteristic to retrofit.

The system on VW’s smaller Transporter is nearly equivalent, so the identical recommendation applies to anybody buying one in all these.

Consumers of the MAN TGE have three spec ranges to select from, with Lion XS being probably the most primary, Lion XC including extras corresponding to a touchscreen and multi-function steering wheel, and the Lion XP getting the complete choose of the choices checklist.

VW Transporter

© MAG/James Andrews

Belly protection on the MAN TGE

© James Andrews


When a van arrives in Volkstrek’s workshop, all the unique suspension elements are eliminated and refitted with stronger shocks that includes a 30mm elevate.

To verify this doesn’t have any adversarial results on the operating gear, additionally they change the highest mounts, lengthen the bump stops, and add prop-shaft spacers.

This elevating of the experience peak offers room to suit a variety of bigger wheels and off-road tyres.

Suspension lift

© James Andrews

Hottest are 245/65 R17 BF Goodrich All Terrains, as these have the identical roiling circumference because the originals and don’t mess with the gearing or require any adjustment of the speedometer.

There’s room to go bigger, and a few clients do, however they should signal a disclaimer to acknowledge that it’s not an ordinary setup.

Those that wish to use their van to its full potential may match beneath stomach safety, a snorkel and axle and transmission breathers.

As a information, becoming a full off-road equipment corresponding to this prices about £5,000 for a VW Transporter and £6,000 for the bigger Crafter and MAN vans.

All terrain tyres on the MAN TGE

© James Andrews

What’s it wish to drive?

For a giant van the TGE was surprisingly ready on the tough off-road tracks we tackled.

The physique elevate meant we may traverse deep ruts with out the danger of bottoming out and there was sufficient suspension journey to maintain the wheels on the bottom when going over lumps and bumps.

The addition of a snorkel and axle breathers additionally meant we may wade although some deep water-filled ruts with out the danger of doing any harm.

The on-demand four-wheel drive system does an admirable job of discovering the accessible grip, however the front-wheel drive bias is noticeable in some conditions.

That is largely as a result of the Haldex system solely sends a most of 10% of the facility to the rear wheels.

Apparently, Volkstrek has been enjoying round with the system and has discovered a solution to get the facility break up to 50:50. Nonetheless, this isn’t that can be purchased simply but.

The shortage of low vary transmission does restrict its off-road potential and may show inconvenient when towing a heavy trailer off street.

Because of this, it could possibly be price contemplating the eight-speed automated, as used within the Amarok pickup, which provides extra gear ratios and removes the necessity to slip the clutch.

On the tarmac, we discovered the seating place comfy and the experience completely acceptable. It additionally has sufficient energy for easy cruising. We didn’t get to attempt it totally laden with a trailer in tow, although.

Load area

© James Andrews

As a farm automobile, it’s at all times going to be a distinct segment participant. However we are able to see a spot for one on giant arable operations or with contractors desirous to run a go-anywhere workshop/assist automobile.

For individuals who choose a load-bed on the again, a Crafter chassis cab or double cab may be price a punt.

These provide significantly extra load area than a pickup and have a number of physique choices – a bit like a mini Unimog.

With a full off-road equipment, the TGE is available in at virtually £50,000, which is loads for a van.

For these needing much less space for storing, a smaller VW Transporter could possibly be a greater guess. These are nimbler and are a bit cheaper to purchase.

Seikel Man TGE 3.180

  • Engine: Volkswagen 2-litre, four-cylinder
  • Energy: 180hp
  • Transmission: 6-speed handbook or 8-speed automated
  • 4-wheel drive system: Haldex on-demand
  • Towing capability: 3t
  • Suspension: 30mm Seikel elevate equipment
  • Different off-road modifications: Below-belly safety, rock sliders, snorkel, axle and transmission breathers

Information value: £49,995

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