Now comes the icing on the cake with the launch of the 4x4s. But these are not simply four-wheel drive versions of existing models; they are models in their own right. And when we say they are heavy duty, we mean it. If the normal rear-wheel drive Daily is Snow Patrol, the 4x4 is sophisticated Motorhead.
Although immediately identifiable as part of the Daily family the 4x4 sits much higher off the ground, looking not too dissimilar to one of those monster trucks. The front bumper is much deeper than on a standard Daily and houses fog lamps and the dipped headlights; the normal headlights are too high off the ground to be used for dipped beam.
Available at 3.5t (35S18W) and 5.5t (55S18W) 4x4 Daily can be had as a short- or long-wheelbase chassis cab, with the latter also on sale as a crew cab. The 3.5-tonners have plated axle loads of 2,250kg at the front and 2,800kg to the rear, while the 5.5-tonners have 2,450kg and 3,700kg respectively.
All Dailys feature a separate chassis and the forward section of the frame on the 4x4 has a closed box structure for additional strength. The front and rear drive axles are mounted on parabolic leaf springs which provide positive location as well as good articulation for arduous off-road work.
The 3.5-tonners utilise a two-leaf pack at the front and three-leaf at the rear, while it's big brothers benefit from use three- and four-leaf arrangement respectively. Hydraulic dampers and stabiliser bars are fitted all-round and if required 3.5-tonners can be specified with the heavier duty leaf packs.
The cab is mounted high on the chassis frame to further ensure good suspension travel; so high in fact that steps are provided on both sides of the cab to aid entry. Overall height of the vehicles is 2,580mm.
An underrun protection bar is fitted at the rear of the chassis so that in the event of a rear-end shunt the other vehicle doesn't disappear under the Daily. It can be swivelled up and locked out of the way when venturing off-road.
At the heart of the 4x4 Dailys lies Iveco's excellent 3.0HPT common rail diesel complete with intercooler, variable geometry turbocharger and diesel particulate filter (DPF). It's capable of producing maximum power of 176hp (3,200-3,500rpm) and develops peak torque of 400Nm (295 lb/ft) between 1,250rpm and 3,000rpm. That's what you call tractable.
Speed limiters are fitted as standard and set to 110kph (68mph) on the 3.5-tonner and 90kph (56mph) on the 5.5-tonner.
Drive is delivered to the front and rear wheels via a manual ZF six-speed gearbox and a dual-range (high and low) transfer box which can also be set for on- or off-road use. The end result is 24 forward and four reverse gears. Four-wheel drive is permanent with 32 per cent going to the front and 68 per cent directed to the rear.
Diff locks are fitted as standard for the rear axle and transfer box, with one for the front axle available as an option. They are actuated electro-hydraulically using dash-mounted switches.
Braking is taken care of by twin-piston discs at the front and drums at the rear. An anti-lock system is standard on the 5.5t models and optional on the 3.5-tonners, although this may not be the case for UK-spec versions. If fitted it can be deactivated for off-roading if required.
The three-seater cab — six-seater in the case of the crew cab — is taken straight from the normal Daily and is pretty much identical except for the two additional transfer box selector levers sticking out of the floor in the centre of the cab and the array of diff lock switches at the top of the dash.
Additional grab handles are provided to aid entry and there's a horizontally mounted close proximity mirror above the passenger door to help the driver negotiate tight manoeuvres on- and off-road.
We were given the opportunity to have a quick go in the Daily 4x4 3.5-tonner on the way back from the Transpotec show in Milan — where the 4x4 was officially launched — to the airport.
The terrain of the man-made course was not exactly arduous, but it was enough to give a taste of the vehicle's potential.
Until you stand next to this Daily it's hard to imagine how high the cab is off the ground. It's a very high step up, especially if you're endowed with short legs, but once inside the cab the all-round vision is prolific; the test vehicles were fitted with dropside bodies.
The 4x4 controls are pretty self-explanatory and with full off-road tyres, low range off-road and rear diff lock engaged the Daily literally walked itself around the course. Just as it should be really with any decent off-roader. The vehicle does the work and all the driver has to do is steer and apply the appropriate amount of throttle. It was surprisingly agile around tight turns, but the demonstrators were short-wheelbase.
One aspect which did stand out was the incredible amount of engine braking available on the downhill sections; simply amazing.
Daily 4x4 is a very specialised piece of kit and it's challenging the Mercedes Unimog, rather than the Sprinter 4x4 or Transit AWD. Potential operators will be looking to make full use of the power take-offs provided to strap on a snow plough, for example, or need to get service teams to really remote locations. The starting price for the basic chassis cab is likely to be in the region of £35,000, but we want one for the next time we venture into London. Black cabs wouldn't stand a chance.