Fiat has replaced its rather wacky-looking Doblo Cargo with a new model that could well set the standard for small vans in the future.
Featuring more stylish and conventional looks than its predecessor, the new Doblo Cargo boasts a range of class-leading features and is aimed at consolidating Fiat's push into the van fleet market that started with the launch of the Fiat Professional three years ago.
As part of this strategy, Fiat now has 60 dealers across the UK offering expert advice to potential buyers, along with extended opening hours and replacement vehicles.
The Doblo Cargo is completely new and a quantum leap forward from the old one. Apart from the name, only the brake callipers and fuel lines are carried over.
One look at the van shows that it has grown considerably in size and the Doblo Cargo now boasts the biggest payload of any van in the sector – up to one tonne – along with cubic capacity of up to 4.2 cubic metres and best-in-class service intervals, CO2 emissions and running costs.
On sale this month, it will be offered with long and short wheelbases, standard and high roofs, van and chassis-cab versions and an array of both Euro IV and Euro V compliant engines, both petrol and diesel.
All Euro V engines will feature Fiat's Start&Stop system as standard. This cuts out the engine after it has been idling for two seconds and automatically restarts it when the driver dabs the clutch.
On the safety front, ABS brakes and EBD are standard, but sadly ESP traction control is a paid-for option. The Ford Transit Connect is the only van in this sector to have this life-saving gadget as standard.
UK prices range from £11,195 to £16,945 ex-VAT.
Our test drive was in the long wheelbase Doblo Cargo with a 1.6-litre
Euro V Multijet engine offering 105bhp – and a cracking drive it turned out to be. Gear changes were slick and sure and if ride and handling aren't best in class then they aren't far off.
The engineers at Fiat deserve a huge slap on the back for their efforts in giving this van remarkable composure.
All drivers won't like the standard stop/start system that comes with Euro V powerplants. I found it a tad strange at first, but the engine fires up quickly and quietly with a dab on the throttle and I soon got used to it. And that system could save drivers up to 15% in fuel – a good sales incentive.