Striking, futuristic styling combined with advanced powertrain technology, very low running costs and car-like comfort for its driver are among the highlights of the Vauxhall Vivaro, unveiled at the Frankfurt Commercial Vehicle Show today.

The all-new, front-wheel drive van also features top driver's cab ergonomics, with a dashboard-integrated gear-shift lever and 11 practical storage compartments plus shelves, as well as a comprehensive safety package.

Vivaro, right at the centre of the popular 2.8-tonne gross vehicle weight category, goes on sale in spring next year as a panel van and minibus.

The new Vivaro - of which Vauxhall and sister company Opel expects to sell nearly 20,000 units in the second half of 2001 in Europe - and its counterpart, the new Renault Trafic, will be built in Luton, by IBC Vehicles, a subsidiary of General Motors.

IBC's plant has been re-equipped and modernised with an investment of approximately £185 million for production of the new van series. Maximum annual production capacity is around 86,000 units.

The van will be available with two different wheelbases (3098 and 3498 millimetres) and a maximum cargo volume of nearly six cubic metres; the top payload is around 1200 kilograms. There is a choice of two economical 1.9-litre turbo-charged diesel engines with common rail fuel injection (80PS/190Nm and 100PS/240Nm) or a 2.0-litre, 16v petrol engine developing 120HP/190Nm. These will be supplemented later by a 133PS/310Nm, 2.5 litre turbo-diesel engine with four valves per cylinder, also with common rail fuel injection.

This version of the Vivaro has a six-speed transmission as does the petrol engine and the more powerful of the two 1.9-litre diesels.

Thanks to its unique styling, Vivaro will be easy to recognise on the road. Vauxhall's design director Hans Seer explains: "We put just as much emphasis on the Vivaro styling as we would with a passenger car. Our goal was to support the van's functional efficiency with an exciting design."

The best example of this philosophy can be seen in the domed shape of the cab roof that gives the driver's cab an unmistakable appearance, makes it easier to enter, and improves side visibility.

Vivaro's design further demonstrates its individuality through styling elements like the large front bumper with its integrated turn indicators and fog lamps, the large clear-glass headlamps fully integrated into the dynamically styled front end, and the rear lights, which extend up toward the roof from the rear bumper.

In all its different versions, Vauxhall's new van offers plenty of space.

Even the short-wheelbase panel van (length x width x height: 4.78 x 1.90 x 1.97 metres) has a capacity of around five cubic metres; load area length is 2.41m, and height 1.38m.

With nearly six cubic metres cargo volume, the long version (5.18m) and a load-area length of 2.81m offers enough space for three Euro-pallets.

Another standard feature of all Vivaro vans is a one-metre wide sliding door on the passenger side, with a second sliding door available as an optional extra. The hinged rear door opens to 180-degrees with 270-degrees opening available as an optional extra for the long-wheelbase version.

The stable vehicle-body structure has Vauxhall's 12-year anti-perforation warranty.

A high degree of occupant protection is provided by the ABS brake system and safety equipment like two front airbags, three-point seat belts and head restraints at all seats, and belt pre-tensioners for the outside seats.

Vivaro buyers will also benefit from low maintenance costs thanks to 20,000 mile or two-year service intervals and the targeted low insurance category.

The moderate fuel consumption figures achieved by the Vivaro's state-of-the-art four-cylinder engines will also make a significant contribution to the high level of overall economy. The most frugal power unit, for example, has a combined cycle consumption of only 38.7mpg. With its 90-litre fuel tank, it has a range of 750 miles.

Vivaro's long equipment list includes practical options like the universally applicable Flex Fix System (with sliding fastening points for the cargo), full bulkheads and resin coated floor covering. A navigation system, a radio-integrated mobile telephone, an extensive range of audio systems with steering-wheel remote controls, and a CD changer integrated into the centre console are also options.