2011 SUZUKI APV REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Light commercial van
Price: $18,990 (plus on-road costs)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 5.9 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 7.4 l/100km
It may be getting on a bit in years, but the Suzuki APV is still the cheapest commercial van on the market.
What do you get for your money? Well, don’t expect many mod-cons, but we found the APV a capable ‘box’ for small businesses and couriers, and sized right for busy streets and city lanes.
Quality: There’s not much to speak of here, just bare plastics, no proper cupholders, featureless door cards and ancient switchgear. It’s definitely utilitarian, but it’s a price-driven consideration.
Comfort: The vinyl seats are flat, thinly cushioned and generally unsupportive, and the APV’s height and small door openings make climbing in a tad clumsy.
Outward visibility is generally good from the driver’s seat, except the high rear window means reversing can be a hit-and-miss affair.
The steering column is fixed too, and the cramped footwells can feel a little restrictive on long journeys.
Equipment: This is a bare-bones van and the APV’s spec sheet reflects this. There are no power mirrors nor power windows, no cruise control and no tachometer.
A basic CD stereo system and air-conditioning is standard thankfully, but it does take a while to cool down the APV’s cavernous interior on a hot day.
Storage: The APV’s saving grace is its big load area. Measuring in at 3400 litres, the APV can swallow a great deal of cargo, however there are no tie-down points to help you secure your load.
The roof-hinged tailgate also doesn’t open quite high enough, and proper sliding doors would make more sense for a commercial van than the APV’s conventionally hinged side doors.
Maximum payload is 810kg.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The only engine offered in the APV is a 1.6 litre petrol four cylinder with 68kW and 127Nm. When empty, it can propel the APV at a reasonable clip, but add some weight in the back and performance drops off markedly.
It’s a little coarse and noisy too, and not too keen on revs.
The sole transmission option is a five-speed manual with a nice snickity shift-action. The clutch is pretty soft and spongy, but it at least makes low-speed crawling easier.
Refinement: No sound deadening, a big boxy interior and a rough, unrefined engine means one thing: noise, and lots of it.
We expect commercial vans to be noisy, yes, but the APV assaults the eardrums with a thrashy cacophony. A few hours of continuous driving will have you reaching for the earplugs.
Suspension: The APV rides on coil springs at the front and cargo-carrying leaf springs at the rear. The result is a ride that is pretty agricultural when empty. With little to no weight in the back, the APV bucks over speedbumps, but settles down with a load on board.
The steering is hydraulically assisted, and the APV’s tight 9.8 metre turning circle puts most passenger cars to shame. Combined with its compact external dimensions, it’s an agile little van that makes light work of threading its way through traffic.
Your ears might be bleeding at the end of your shift, but the easily-manoeuvred APV will get the job done quickly.
Braking: Discs up front and drums at the rear provide adequate stopping power, but the soft pedal needs a hefty prod.
ANCAP rating: 3 Star
Safety features: The APV is equipped with dual front airbags and three-point seatbelts.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three year/100,000km vehicle warranty.
Service costs: Servicing costs are not provided by Suzuki Australia. Contact your local Suzuki dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY:
Holden Combo ($21,280) - Like the APV, Holden’s XC Barina-based Combo is old and spartan. Its load area is also smaller than the APV’s by over 1000 litres, and it’s markedly more expensive.
It is, however, in run-out mode, so there should be some good deals going on the Combo soon. (see Combo reviews)
Volkswagen Caddy TSI 160 ($21,990): Volkswagen’s Caddy is perhaps the most polished offering in the light commercial van space.
Also, its 1.2 litre turbocharged engine has got significantly more torque than the APV, and that brings big improvements in driveability. (see Caddy reviews)
Peugeot Partner L1 petrol ($22,390) - The Partner has slightly more torque and a higher payload capacity than the APV.
It might cost several thousand dollars more, but more value in its wider cargo area and rear barn doors. (see Partner reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Suzuki APV is unashamedly basic, and it doesn’t really need to be anything more than that.
Given its sizable cargo area and low price, it makes a very cost-effective light delivery van, and is ideal for shipping smaller loads around town quickly and cheaply.
It’s horses for courses; at the price, it’s quite reasonable value.