Which 3.5t chassis cab offers the best payload?

  • Authorities cracking down on overloading
  • Lightest and heaviest chassis vary by 300kg
  • Find the best chassis cab for payload

With the authorities cracking down on overloading, making sure that you’re loading legally has never been so important (see the Guide to Legal Loading). Many conversions, whether it be a 3.5t horsebox or 3.5t car transporter, often fall short of the law, so ensuring you have a light enough chassis to fit a body and your cargo is vital.

Many people don’t realise just how much the weight of chassis vary. The difference between the lightest and the heaviest is over 300kg, which can increase the payload of a tipper by up to 30 percent.

This article lists the lightest chassis cab derivatives of each model.

10) Ford Transit – 1,948kg

Ford Transit chassis cab

Traditionally, the Ford Transit was known for returning high payloads for conversions, but the latest generation has bulked up a lot and is now the heaviest chassis on the market. The kerbweight is now just shy of two tonnes, which means there is only 1.5 tonnes left for the body and payload.

Read the full Ford Transit review.

9) Iveco Daily – 1,880kg

Iveco Daily chassis cab

The Daily has always been notoriously heavy due to its ladder frame chassis, but engineers shed up to 100kg off the kerbweight of the latest generation. Iveco has a reputable conversion program, called Driveaway, and its range of tippers, dropsides and Lutons now offer respectable payloads.

Read the full Iveco Daily review.

8) Volkswagen Crafter – 1,794kg

VW Crafter chassis cab

Weighing in at 1,794kg, the Volkswagen Crafter is another heavy chassis. Volkswagen’s ‘Engineered to Go’ conversion program, which is a collaboration with the UK’s leading LCV bodybuilder Ingimex, is still popular though thanks to a well-stocked dealer network.

Read the full Volkswagen Crafter review.

7) Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – 1,785kg

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter shares the same chassis, and is built on the same production line as the Volkswagen Crafter, but despite having a larger engine, it works out at 9kg lighter. Mercedes-Benz still doesn’t have a dedicated conversion program, although most of its dealers have a relationship with a local bodybuilder.

Read the full Mercedes-Benz Sprinter review.

6) Nissan NV400 – 1,686kg

Nissan NV400 chassis cab

The remaining two chassis left (sold under six different brand names) are considerably lighter. The heaviest of these is the Nissan NV400, which is a slightly reworked version of the Renault Master and Vauxhall Movano, although sales of its conversion range fall short of the other two brands.

Read the full Nissan NV400 review.

4) Renault Master/Vauxhall Movano – 1,684kg

Renault Master chassis cab

Vauxhall Movano chassis cab

Apart from the badge and slight differences in the specification, nothing separates the Renault Master and Vauxhall Movano. Despite being the lightest panel van, chassis cab variants lose out slightly to the SEVEL Sud vans (Citroen Relay, Fiat Ducato and Peugeot Boxer).

Read the full Vauxhall Movano review.

Read the full Renault Master review.

2) Citroen Relay/Peugeot Boxer – 1,635kg

Citroen Relay chassis cab

Sales of Citroen’s ‘Ready to Run’ range have increased tenfold in five years, thanks to big investments from head office. Meanwhile, Peugeot still doesn’t have a dedicated conversion program, and instead focuses on the specialist, one-off conversion products.

Read the full Citroen Relay review.

Read the full Peugeot Boxer review.

1) Fiat Ducato – 1,630kg

Ducato tipper

The lightest chassis cab that is currently on sale is the Fiat Ducato. Despite featuring a larger 2.3-litre engine than its Citroen and Peugeot-badged siblings, the Ducato works out at 5kg lighter and is also the most fuel-efficient van in its class.

Read the full Fiat Ducato review.

Also read: Best 3.5t tippers for payload

Also read: Best 3.5t panel vans for payload

Also read: Best 3.5t dropsides for payload

Also read: Best 3.5t Luton and Box vans for payload

Also read: Van conversion programmes by manufacturer

Also read: The guide to legal van loading