MAN TGE

New Car Review

7.5 out of 10

10 Second Review

The MAN TGE appeals to savvy business buyers by offering all the attributes of the Volkswagen Crafter with an even better after-sales support package. The 2.0 TDI diesel engines are a strong point, there's a practical cargo bay, a wide range of body style choices and solid reliability. This is a contender that should take in its stride whatever your company can throw at it.

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Detailed ratings

Overall
75 %
Economy
8 / 10
Space
8 / 10
Value
8 / 10
Handling
7 / 10
Depreciation
8 / 10
Styling
6 / 10
Build
7 / 10
Comfort
8 / 10
Insurance
7 / 10
Performance
8 / 10
Equipment
7 / 10

Background

By and large, LCV brands are passenger car manufacturers who've ventured into the car market. But commercial vehicle owners have very different needs to those of car buyers, so you can see the appeal to the business market of a manufacturing brand purely dedicated to goods vehicles. IVECO and Maxus already claim to meet this need but there's also a marque that aims to take the advantages of a commercial vehicle heritage to completely different level: MAN.
MAN Truck and Bus is an established German truck maker that's part of the Volkswagen group, so it's not surprising that its van sector offering is based on a Volkswagen model, the Crafter large LCV. Very heavily based as it happens. Take away the badge work and you'd struggle to see any difference at all between a Crafter and the large LCV model we look at here, the MAN TGE. Yet there are a number of reasons why the TGE might actually be slightly better buy than its Wolfsburg cousin. And here we going to find out why.
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Range Data

Min Max
Payload Capacity (l) 1333 1333
Min Max
Power (ps) 102 177

Driving experience

Once you settle into driving a large van like this, it's a very commanding experience. You sit high up in quite a car-like position thanks to the upright steering wheel, enjoying a supportive seat that's equipped with an armrest to prop a weary elbow on over longer trips. A pity then, that earlier Crafter engines tended to be relatively ponderous.
The 2.0-litre TDI diesel unit is available in 102, 122 and 140PS outputs, plus there's a potent bi-turbo version putting out 177PS. All the engines will get you and your load where you need to be with deceptive speed. The smoothness and pulling power of this 2.0-litre unit is something that operators will notice in the first half a mile of use, even in the entry-level 102PS variant. Customers have a choice between front and rear wheel drive, plus 4WD, as well as the option of a manual or automatic gearbox. Trailers of up to 3.5 tonnes can be towed.
Power arrives low in the rev range so that you don't have to row the thing along with the gear lever so much in town. On the open road, overtaking's easy too. It's the main reason why this vehicle has so much towing power too, all TGE models able to haul a braked trailer grossing at up to 2,000kgs. Further up the range, the differences with what went before are even greater, the top-flight twin-turbo 177PS BiTDI variant offering around 400Nm of torque.
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Design and build

The MAN TGE doesn't go to much trouble to hide its Volkswagen Crafter-derived parentage. The Crafter's two bar grill is here replaced by one with a piano black appendage featuring the MAN logo with the brand's lion badge just above. Plus there are model designation badges at the front on the front wings ahead of the doors and there's a badge on the back. That's about it.
The driver's seat is multi-adjustable and the wheel can adjust for reach and rake, so it's easy to get comfortable. Once you are, there's plenty of space for all your odds and ends, with storage spaces aplenty. You get a large bin in each of the doors big enough to store a large road atlas and a 1.5-litre drinks bottle. Then there are large shelves above the windscreen and more shelves (one of which is big enough for an A4-sized clipboard) on top of the fascia. There are no fewer than five cup holders for that morning trip to McDonalds and a handy dash-mounted clip to deal with stray paperwork. You also get a large glovebox that can be air-conditioned to keep drinks cool. And useful jacket hooks on the B-pillars.
All TGE models get a 5 inch centre-dash infotainment screen complete with USB and 12V sockets for charging and there's an optional Volkswagen-sourced navigation system with an 8-inch touchscreen if you want it. As you'd expect, two or three people can comfortably travel side by side in the front, but if you're not using the middle seat, you can pull down its centre section and turn it into a table complete with two upholders and a pen-holder - ideal if you've paperwork to complete or if you're stopping somewhere to have a bite of lunch.
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Market and model

MAN has had to agree with Volkswagen that prices for this TGE won't undercut Crafter by more than around 5%. That means prices that, excluding the dreaded VAT, lie mainly in the £30,000-£35,000 bracket that you might expect for this class of large van, though in today's cut-throat market, that is slightly more than you'd pay for some mainstream rivals. Specific figures will depend on your choice of body shape. As with the Crafter, there are a wide variety of body, chassis and drive options.
The panel van most will choose comes in a choice of three roof heights - Normal, High and Super-high. And you can choose between three different body lengths - Standard, Long and Extra-long. With Long and Extra-long variants, there's a longer wheelbase. MAN also makes available TGE Chassis cab and Crew cab body styles. The Chassis cab is available in the same three different lengths as the panel van, while the Crew cab can be had in both Standard and Long guises.
All TGE models are decently equipped and can now be ordered with more sophisticated infotainment systems and greater degrees of electronic safety. Active driver assistance systems include ESP with trailer stabilisation, ACC Adaptive Cruise Control, a post-collision braking system, a side wind compensation system and a trailer manoeuvring assistant system. Buyers might also want a reversing camera, a parking distance monitor and a Rear Traffic Alert system. Optional LED headlights, cornering lights and a Light Assist set-up can ensure a clear view of the road ahead at night, while the TGE can also come with online services tailored to the specific needs of customers.
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Summary

At first glance, you might wonder, as we initially did, why the Volkswagen group allows two separate brands to sell what is sensibly the same product, particularly given that one of them rather lacks customer recognition in our market. But not amongst the people who matter. Commercial vehicle fleet experts value the MAN Truck and Bus organisation's 100 year heritage building commercial vehicles. And it's a heritage some of them will be more inclined to trust than that of a passenger car manufacturer who've merely added a van to the corner of their showroom.
Supporting that perception is this TGE models MAN Mobile 24 emergency service which is, quite simply, on a different on a different level from the back-up offered by rival brands who simply provide cover from a third party breakdown company as part of an after sales package. Plus an MAN dealer will be far more dialled into your business needs the passenger car brand would be. Add into all of this the design attributes of the Volkswagen Crafter, one of the big van sector's highest quality offerings, and you suddenly have what might even be the most sensible choice in the large LCD segment.
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