Recently we took a visit to Warsaw, Poland, to view the forthcoming Toyota Proace. Once this van hits the roads in Ireland, people will notice that it's very similar to that of the Peugeot Expert and the Citroen Dispatch. This is because all of these three vans all share the same stuff. The only difference to the styling of each will be different noses and minor external differences. That said, there's no doubting that these vans, from all three manufacturers, will cut their places in the Irish market.
The van market is booming at the moment and it still looks as if Ford is winning the race with the extremely versatile Transit. Volkswagen aren't doing bad either with their exceptional Transporter T6. Like with Ford and Volkswagen, Toyota has decided to make as many variants available to the Irish market as they can. There will be a selection of wheelbases, styles and purposes for these vans. The line-up even includes the MPV versions, which is our main reason for attending the launch.
Before we look at the MPV versions of the Proace range, it is worth noting that Toyota are currently in fourth place in terms of van sales in Ireland. They hold a 7.28% share of the market behind Ford, Volkswagen and Renault. Toyota are yet to release their pricing and it’ll be very interesting to see how this machine fares in comparison to their partners with this van. Funnily enough, Peugeot and Citroen are coming in in fifth and sixth place in terms of sales.
The new Proace has a much more attractive nose than ever before. It looks butcher and is far more imposing. The new range also comes with new variants, lengths and wheelbases.
The Proace Verso, which is their MPV version is available as a; combi, which is great for the building site; a shuttle, which will undoubtedly be the taxi choice; a VIP version, which limo operators will probably opt for; and then there’s the family version, which does exactly what it says on the tin.
We drove some of the Verso range, and they are surprisingly nice to travel in. The only initial problem we found in these left hand-drive models was the lack of space between the right foot accelerator and the back of the centre console – which won’t be a problem at all when it comes to the Irish market (because it’ll be on the other side – hopefully it doesn’t mean a lack of space for the left foot though).
The Verso models that we looked at were more muted than the normal van version, which means that the extra padding within the vehicle itself soaks up the sound. The exterior however sounds every bit as diesel as it is.
Depending on which Verso you do opt for there is a choice of 9, 8 or 6 seats. The family version gets 8 seats. All of these seats are good for adults and 6 of them have ISOFIX points. Getting into the third row is a breeze and it throw up no problems. Extra versatility comes with the fact that the Verso model of the Proace can be turned into a van by removing the rear seats. We haven’t removed them, but we’re told that it’s an easy job.
This version, and all other Verso models (with the exception of the combi) come with a 2.0 litre diesel engine with a 6-speed transmission. This transmission is far better than the 5-speed box in the vans, which is not well spaced and in need of an extra gear. The 2.0 litre engine gives 150 hp and maximum torque of 370Nm. At no point does this vehicle feel sluggish.
The Proace is certainly worth a look if your family has grown too big for your seven-seater MPV. It’s also a good option for taxi drivers. We’re guessing that price might dictate just how well it sells.
Prices for the new Proace have not been unveiled yet, we should know by the end of the month. It’s a good time for the van market and the Proace might be enough for Toyota to increase their market share. However, they have very stiff competition from both the Transit and the Transporter.