First Sitcar Voyagers arrive
Moseley unveil New Daily based minicoaches
Most manufacturers and dealers have opted to move up in size in order to provide a replacement for their Mercedes-Benz Vario based minibus ranges but the associated Moseley group of companies have taken a different approach, deciding to offer both smaller and larger options. The smaller alternative is the Sitcar Voyager bodied Iveco New Daily, the first two right hand drive examples of which arrived in the UK last week. Stuart Jones hot footed it down to Wellington near Taunton to take a look at them at the premises of Moseley in the South. You’ll have to wait a little while longer – not a lot – for the arrival of the larger option, the 10 and 12 tonne Atego with Indcar Next bodywork. We’ll cover that when it arrives.
Sitcar’s relationship with the Moseley organisations began in 1999 and in the period up to the delivery of the last one to Westbus last summer, the Beluga 3 bodied Vario and its predecessors sold steadily, with Sitcar’s UK presence further boosted by sales of the Marlin on the Atego chassis. Although Vario capacities could be as high as 33, the majority of Belugas were 29 seaters and a good many sold by Moseley in the South were only 25 seaters, especially those for the London market.
With a maximum GVW capacity of 7.2 tonnes the Iveco Daily was never going to match the maximum seating capacity of the Vario, but 25 seats and a courier seat (or 19 seats and tables) gives you good legroom and 300kg of official luggage capacity. Allan Vaulter, MD at Moseley in the South, told me that they had looked at squeezing in a further double seat on the nearside to get 27, and though it may just about have been possible it was considered it too tight both in legroom and weight flexibility.
Reaction to a left hand drive Voyager that spent a few days in London last year was positive and comments made by operators about that vehicle have been taken on board in the development of the right hand drive specification. Externally, the biggest changes are the smooth rather than indented front bonnet and the replacement of the front screen with a new one that sits in the same position at the base but has its upper edge extended by 19cm. This is very welcome and improves the forward view for passengers, as well as, in my opinion, improving the exterior look.
Although there is less weight to play with, the approach has been to try and maintain the look and feel of the Beluga, though there are changes such as the use of Autoclima rather than Sutrak air conditioning, backed up by peripheral radiator heating. The driver has his own separate and effective air conditioning system. As before the racks are Ellamp with brightwork adorned personal service units. Curtains are pleated rather than plain and are to be mounted nearer the window than they are initially on this coach.
A criticism of the interior originally was that though the dash was attractively trimmed in stitched leather, the roof covering forward of the C-pillar was a moulding incorporating a stitched leather look that didn’t really work. This moulding has gone and is replaced by the stitched leather promised last year. Similar leather trim is also applied to the window pillars and most other surfaces in the forward section of the saloon. Grey is the colour, not only for this leather but also for the side panels, rack inserts and window surrounds. The wide roof lining is blue patterned moquette matching that on the seats, the decency screen ahead of the offside seating row is a grey moulded frame trimmed in moquette and the unit holding the microphone to the left of the courier seat is also moquette trimmed, with a metal kick-plate thoughtfully added to the rear lower section. I would have preferred the substantial driver’s blind mounted on its upper edge of the decency screen to have been a pull down unit rather than a pull up one, as a shelf table here would have been of more use to passengers. It had yet to be fitted, but carpet to the sunken gangway, steps and cab area will be fitted as standard. On the coach I examined the floor was covered in a pale blue laminate that coordinated well with the rest of the décor. The entrance has a good handrail to the left, with a useful bar along the base of the courier seat to the right.
Audio equipment is fitted in the UK by CoachTek who were on site installing it in the second of the new Voyagers while I was there. The standard system provides two microphones and a CD player while a 19-inch monitor and DVD player are options.
The seats in the Beluga were Vogel units but after operators liked the Lazzerini Transit recliners with aisle armrests fitted in the demonstration coach, Allan has decided to stick with them. Arranged in a 2+2 layout, I found them comfortable. On the coach I saw they had the option of leather piping to match the headrest insets, which involves an on-cost of €800. Other options available include glove nets and footrests. Of the first two coaches, one has lap belts while the other is prepared for three-point belts to be fitted, though all other stock coaches will be equipped with three-point belts as standard.
Sitcar have gone all out to maximise luggage, claiming a total of 3.5 cubic metres. There are side lockers on both sides complete with over wheelarch areas, and the boot has both nearside and rear access.
Allan still isn’t entirely happy with the drop down emergency step arrangement at the rear offside door which is compliant but can be improved. The company will be amending this element on the first two examples in the UK with all subsequent ones manufactured differently at the plant.
Air suspension on the rear axle is standard. This wasn’t a roadtest, just a first impression, so I won’t go too far into the Iveco aspect, although early feedback on the New Daily 70C17 has been appreciative. The four-cylinder, three-litre Euro6, engine produces 170hp (125kW at 2,990-3,500rpm and torque of 400Nm at 1,250-3,000rpm. On the current stock only the manual ZF 6S-400 six-speed overdrive gearbox is available but it will also be possible later to fit the new Hi-Matic eight-speed automatic for an additional cost. The main dash is pretty much standard Iveco with the additional side mouldings to take account of the wider body. These included insets that although tidy may be put to more constructive uses in future. A heated driver’s side window has a sliding rear section.
Both Allan and Service Manager, Brian Reed, have driven the coach and been surprised by how nice an experience it is. ‘It’s a beautiful thing to drive, just like driving a car,’ said Brian.
The price for the UK is £123,500. All three associated Moseley companies are taking stock examples and Allan told me that he already has a name on one of his, as well as a lot of genuine interest from people who are waiting to see what the finished item looks like. For anyone who only needs 25 seats, the Voyager looks an attractive proposition.
Front overhang: 1,010mm
Rear overhang: 2,580mm
Interior headroom: 1,940mm