Looking for a light commercial that will cross the sort of terrain that would flummox a typical 4x4 pick-up and would probably scare off a Land Rover Defender too? Don’t want to spend a fortune? Then look no further.
What you probably need is the 4x4 version of Iveco’s Daily. It’s now available in right-hand drive guise, and we’ve been putting it through its paces at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.
Marketed at both 3.5 and 5.5 tonnes, and aimed at the gas, water and electricity companies among other prospective customers, it’s up for grabs with either a standard three-seater cab or a six-seater crew cab. Buyers get to pick from two different wheelbases — 3,050mm or 3,400mm — and the high-ground-clearance mud-plugger is powered by a 176hp 3.0-litre diesel. Peak torque of 400Nm bites across a 1,250rpm-to-3,000rpm plateau.
Drivers get no less than 24 forward and four reverse gears to play tunes on. Offering the choice of high and low gears, the transfer box houses a third differential and a differential lock as standard equipment. A rear diff lock is standard too, with a front diff lock available as an option.
The off-roading Daily’s ability in the rough is phenomenal. It tackled Millbrook’s demanding off-road course with aplomb, chugging up precipitous inclines without breaking sweat and descending equally steep and muddy slopes without missing a beat.
It shrugged off deep potholes, steam-rollered transverse ridges flat and dealt happily with ruts that would have resulted in less-able 4x4s grounding and getting completely stuck.
Anybody who acquires this impressive box of tricks must make sure that they and their drivers undergo some education to get the best out of it, however. Suitable training should ensure that they know which gears to select in demanding conditions and when to activate the diff locks.
Iveco expects to sell 50 to 100 of the all-terrain Dailys in the UK annually. In our view it is likely to exceed its target. That’s because it has come up with a vehicle that will do a lot of what Mercedes-Benz’s Unimog will do, but at approximately half the price. It will set you back around £32,000 depending on the model and the exact specification.
We also took the opportunity to get to grips with a rather different kind of Daily. It’s a factory-built gas-powered model that relies on liquid biomethane which has its origins in a landfill site. One of the most environmentally-friendly fuels on the market, it’s sourced through Gasrec, Iveco’s preferred biomethane supplier.
Costing around £7,000 more than the equivalent diesel model, a 136hp 3.0-litre biomethane Daily 65C14G 6.5-tonner cage tipper has just successfully completed a six month trial with the London Borough of Camden. It cost 30 per cent less to fuel than a diesel model according to Iveco, and CO2 emissions were 62 per cent lower.
“We are particularly pleased with the air quality improvements achieved by using biomethane to replace diesel,” says Gasrec chief executive officer, Richard Lilleystone. “Every local authority would welcome a 90 per cent reduction in particulate matter, a 60 per cent reduction in nitrous oxide, a 50 per cent reduction in sulphur dioxide and even a noise reduction of around 30 per cent.”
The engine could be approved to the future Euro 6 exhaust emissions regulations if legislation allowed it. At present it does not.
The drop in engine decibels is immediately obvious when you drive the London congestion tax-exempt vehicle away. Yet while the cut is welcome, it has the effect of unmasking noise from the tyres, the suspension, the body and so on. Normally those noises would be drowned by the sound emanating from beneath the bonnet.
Mounted beneath the vehicle, the gas tanks offer a range of from 250 to 300 miles.
Biomethane can be transported by tanker to a customer’s depot and stored in a bulk tank. Alternatively it can be held in a bank of cylinders, an approach likely to appeal to smaller operators. Gasrec’s plan is to lease the storage facilities and the dispenser to the user. The more fuel the user consumes, the lower the leasing charge.
The gas used in the Daily run by Camden council came from a landfill in Surrey, but Gasrec is hoping to obtain it from a landfill at an as yet un-named location in the north of England too in the not-too-distant future.
While Iveco is best-known for its vans and trucks, it also makes a wide range of military vehicles. The line-up includes the Ariete main battle tank, produced in conjunction with Finmeccanica subsidiary Oto Melara. On a slightly smaller scale, Iveco Defence Vehicles has supplied the British army with more than 400 Light Multirole Vehicles (LMVs).
Grossing at over 7.0 tonnes, powered by a 3.0-litre 190hp diesel married to a six-speed automatic gearbox, and better known to squaddies as the Panther, the LMV comes with permanent four-wheel drive. Designed to resist mine blasts, and able to carry up to five people, it can be protected with a series of composite armour skins providing varying levels of toughness depending on how great the predicted threat is.
We took one over Millbrook’s off-road course and were mightily impressed. It’s easy to drive, can cross arduous terrain quickly, offers a remarkably good ride thanks to its independent, long travel suspension and feels stable too. Just what you need if you’re venturing into a typical British town centre on a Friday night.
What Van? decided to use its visit to Millbrook to re-acquaint itself with the latest version of Iveco’s Eurocargo. It was launched in Britain last September at gross weights of from 7.5 to 18 tonnes.
We got to grips with an almost-fully-laden 75E16 7.5 tonne tipper bodied by Brit-Tipp. Once again we were amazed by how easy Eurocargo is to drive. That’s because Iveco has equipped it with a six-speed semi-automatic gearbox as standard. You can either use a steering column-mounted stalk to change gear or flick the box into drive using a dashboard-mounted switch.
We opted for the latter course. Tackling Millbrook’s hill route, speed bowl and a cross-section of other roads, we rapidly came to the conclusion that most drivers will find that manual intervention is seldom, if ever, necessary. So how soon before some operators ask for the stalk to be deleted?
Something that definitely proved to be of value, however, was our truck’s exhaust brake. Switching it on helped slow Eurocargo when descending steel hills, but we had to resort to the service brakes too when we had to go down really acute inclines. Under those circumstances the 160hp 3.9-litre engine wasn’t quite big enough to rein the truck in.
Otherwise Eurocargo is a highly-competent package and one that drivers more used to being at the wheel of a 3.5-tonner should easily adapt to without too much anguish.
One Iveco model we expected to see at Millbrook, but didn’t, was the Land Rover Defender-rivalling Massif 4x4. The current economic climate has prompted the manufacturer to put its UK launch plans on hold for the moment. “We’ll review the situation at the end of the year,” says a spokesman. If it is going to debut on this side of the Channel, then our bet would be late 2010/early 2011 at the earliest.