With vast stretches of the UK’s road network currently strangled by 50mph roadworks zones and general congestion, it can be miserable enough commuting to work if you drive a car, but what about all the poor van drivers who spend much longer behind the steering wheel each day? It got us thinking about which vans are available on business contract hire with the option of an automatic gearbox, which can help make tedious journeys that little bit more palatable.
The Ford Transit Custom, which year after year is the most popular van we arrange, can be specified with a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, allowing gears to be changed manually whenever desired, along with the ability to lock certain gears out, maximising traction when driving over slippery or steep surfaces. Ford’s SelectShift gearbox is compatible with 130PS and 170PS Transit Custom vans from January 2017 onwards. Also starting from this month, Ford’s Transit itself can be specified with SelectShift to partner the EcoBlue 2-litre TDCi engines of the same power outputs as the Custom. The Ranger double-cab pickup can also be leased on contract hire with an automatic gearbox, on both the 2.2 and 3.2-litre (Wildtrak) diesel models alike.
The Berlingo Panel Van from Citroen is another popular choice for sole traders, tradespeople, SMEs and larger business fleets, and the ETG6 Semi-Automatic transmission is optional with the BlueHDi 100 version. It functions in a way that feels very similar to a normal torque-convertor type automatic transmission and offers decent fuel economy of upto 68.9mpg, with emissions of 109g/km CO2. The fully electric variant of the Citroen Berlingo comes with an automatic gearbox and boasts zero emissions, making it a great van for city couriers or other businesses operating in urban areas. The Relay van isn’t available in automatic guise but the new Citroen Dispatch is, if chosen as a 94bhp model, which can return a very respectable 54.3mpg considering its dimensions and payload capacity.
Mercedes always performs strongly in the commercial vehicle business contract hire market, too, and its compact Citan panel van can be chosen with a dual-clutch, six-speed automatic gearbox offering smooth changes for a relaxed driving experience. The popular mid-size Mercedes Vito van is available with the firm’s coveted 7G-TRONIC transmission and can even be specified with four-wheel drive, whilst one of the most ubiquitous vans on UK roads, the Mercedes Sprinter, also sees this smooth automatic gearbox on the options list.
Some other lease vans that can be arranged on business contract hire with an automatic gearbox of one type or another include:
- New FIAT Fullback pickup as a 2.4 180 diesel 4WD Automatic
- FIAT Ducato with the Comfort-Matic automated manual on all models except the entry level 115bhp diesel
- Nissan e-NV200, the fully electric version of the popular NV200
- Renault Trafic with the French firm’s robotised Quickshift6 semi-automatic transmission
- Vauxhall Movano with the Tecshift gearbox
- Volkswagen Transporter van with a twin-clutch, 7-speed DSG automatic transmission
We’ve not mentioned every single van available for leasing on business contract hire with an automatic gearbox, but it’s evident that the majority of the most popular lease vans, trucks and crew mini-buses on the market can be specified with conventional or robotised ‘automated’ gearboxes, which could be just the ticket until the UK’s fairly pants road network improves.
We’re a leasing company, so if you’re a tradesperson or run a fleet of vans, get in touch to see what current van lease deals and offers we’re running.