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First drive: Fiat Fiorino – on sale May 2008



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This is the latest LCV venture between Fiat and PSA Peugeot Citroën. This city van will be badged as Bipper by Peugeot and Nemo by Citroën when it goes on sale in May but Fiat has revived the Fiorino name, last seen on its small van in 2001.

The Turkish-built van will compete in a new sub-segment, slotted between the Punto van and the Doblo Cargo. Its dimensions are compact. At 3.86 metres long and 1.71 metres wide, it’s marginally smaller than a Ford Fiesta van, but at 1.72 metres high its load area has a volume of 2.5 cubic metres compared to the Fiesta’s 1.0 cubic metre.

The Fiorino’s volume can be expanded to 2.8 cubic metres thanks to a foldable passenger seat, likely to be an optional extra.

Folding also increases the load area length from 1.5 to 2.5 metres. Maximum load capacity is 535kg plus the driver, on a par with Fiesta’s 512-543kg.

Fiorino’s cabin is utilitarian but comfortable and airy. The driving position is quite car-like and the seat supportive. However, the model we tested had the foldable passenger seat, which lacks side support and becomes uncomfortable on long journeys.

Its driving experience is car-like and fuss-free. The 1.3 Multijet turbodiesel is a great little unit and propels the van along well whether loaded or unladen. Fiat claims a 600-mile range is possible from a tank of diesel. Servicing is due every 18,750 miles or 24 months.

The 1.4 petrol engine offered elsewhere in Europe will not be included in the UK’s range. However, both engines will be offered in the Fiorino Panorama mini-MPV, which will be introduced into the car market this year.

To cater for different users’ needs, the van can be specified with various body configurations, from sliding side doors and panelled bulkheads to glazed rear door and metallic paint.

Fiat has yet to finalise the exact specifications of UK models. On the press launch, the up-spec SX had standard electric mirrors, electric front windows, remote central locking and reach-and-rake adjustable steering wheel. All these are optional on the basic version, on which the main features are ABS, EBD, driver’s airbag, trip computer and a load area mat.

Price: Around £11,000
Engine: 1.3 Multijet diesel: 75bhp
Transmission: 5sp manual, robotised gearbox due in 2008
Performance: Top speed 98mph
Efficiency: 63mpg, 119g/km CO2
Rivals: Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsavan, Citroën Nemo

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