Iveco Daily 4x4

Date: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When it comes time to venture off-road in a light commercial there is a pretty good selection of vehicles to choose from. There are the 4x4 one tonne pick-ups, Ford’s Transit AWD, Land Rover’s Defender and Discovery, Mitsubishi’s Outlander and Shogun, and offerings from Kia and SsangYong.

 

But if we’re talking really serious terrain and mud that would even defeat a Defender then the choice becomes very much narrower and more specialised; and the bank balance is likely to take a severe battering.

Iveco, however, has come up with a sub-£40,000 option that could well fit the bill in the shape of the pumped-up Daily 4x4. Basically a Daily on steroids and available as a three-seater chassis cab or a six-seater chassis crew cab it can be had at a gross vehicle weight of either 3.5 tonne or 5.5 tonne. Wheelbase can be either 3,050mm or 3,400mm for the single cab and solely the latter for the crew cab.

Engine

Power for all derivatives comes from Iveco’s latest generation 3-litre HPT turbodiesel, also found in the 4x2 Daily range. Thanks to high pressure common rail injection and a variable geometry turbo it’s capable of producing maximum power of 176hp between 3,200rpm and 3,500rpm, and developing 400Nm of peak torque from as low as 1,250rpm all the way through to 3,000rpm.

Daily 4x4 uses a six-speed manual ZF gearbox which is coupled to an Iveco-designed high/low range transfer ‘box and provides permanent four-wheel drive with a torque distribution of 32 per cent to the front, 68 per cent to the rear. Combined with a high/low range splitter ‘box this endows Daily 4x4 with the choice of 24 forward gears and four reverse cogs.

The transfer ‘box houses the standard-fit lockable centre diff. A lockable diff is also fitted at the rear as standard. If deemed necessary there’s also one available for the front for an additional £845. A choice of four factory-fitted PTOs (power take-offs) can also be found on the options list, handling from 150Nm to 1,900Nm. Cruise control is used for PTO engine speed management.

Suspension

Parabolic leaf spring suspension with hydraulic dampers and an anti-roll bar is fitted all-round with the 3.5-tonners using a two-leaf set-up at the front and three leaves at the back. This rises to three- and four-leaf respectively on the 5.5-tonners. The latter set-up can be specified on the 3.5-tonners for heavy-duty applications.

Braking is taken care of by discs at the front and drums at the rear, and ABS is part of the package. When a diff-lock is engaged the ABS is deactivated automatically. As standard Daily 4x4 comes with 9.5R17.5 on-/off-road tyres, but full off-road 255/100R16s can be specified from the options list.

An electronic speed limiter is fitted as standard and on the 3.5-tonners is set for 68mph (110kph), rising to 75mph (120kph) if on-road tyres are specified. The 5.5-tonners are calibrated at 56mph (90kph), increasing — where permitted legally — to 62mph (100kph) with off-road tyres and 75mph if on-road tyres are specified.


Stylistically the 4x4 is obviously a member of the Daily family, but the cab and bodywork are mounted much higher up to allow for extended suspension travel; it really is a real-life Tonka toy.

With a frame height of 1,065mm there is the possibility that a car could disappear under the rear of the vehicle in the event of an accent so the rear features an underrun protection bar. This can be swivelled up and locked out of the way when venturing off-road to avoid compromising the rear departure angle, which at a maximum is around 40°.

Cab

Due to the cab’s extended mounting height there are additional steps and grab handles provided to ease access. Apart from the additional diff lock buttons and the two floor-mounted levers to operate the transfer and splitter ‘boxes the cab interior is all very familiar with a dash-mounted gearchange and an abundance of storage bins and pockets.

The standard specification includes remote central locking, electric windows, fully adjustable driver’s seat, dual passenger seat and a radio/CD player. Naturally there are a host of optional extras, but one we would recommend highly is air conditioning. Serious off-roading can be strenuous.

As standard the 4x4 comes with the same door mirrors as a ‘normal’ Daily, but one’s with longer arms can be specified to suit bodywork up to 2.3m wide. An additional downward facing close-proximity mirror is provided on the nearside so the driver can see what’s going on in that blindspot area; a real boon when off-roading.

 

Sold purely as a chassis or chassis crew cab, it’s up to the operator to specify bodywork and ancillary equipment to be strapped on. And the possibilities are virtually endless; a simple dropside or tipper, a snowplough, crane or even a fully kitted-out fire-fighting rig. The only limiting factor is the gross payload allowance. In the case of the 3.5-tonner single cab short-wheelbase it’s 1,010kg, dropping to 760kg for the crew cab. Move up to a 5.5-tonner and these figures rise substantially; 2,985kg for the former and 2,735kg for the latter.

Off the Road

It’s a fair old climb up into the cab of the short-wheelbase 3.5-tonner, our steed for the day, but once in the driving seat it’s familiar territory. Except for the additional height and some extra levers and buttons to play with, of course. Millbrook Proving Ground’s demanding off-road course was the venue and the weather was perfect; rain, sleet and even some light snow.

Even with the transmission in the highest range 4x4 setting and no diffs locked the Daily romped through the mud — ably assisted by the full off-road tyres — and tackled deep ruts and slight inclines with aplomb.

Once into the serious stuff, however, it was time for some lower range gearing and a reach for the diff locks. This thing is unstoppable and that’s without engaging the optional front diff lock fitted to the demonstrator. It retained its composure, even down steep rutted inclines, and the amount of axle articulation it’s endowed with meant that all the wheels remained in contact with the ground just about all the time. Quite stunning.

Also stunning is the engine. The amount of torque available over a huge chunk of the rev range is remarkable. It makes life behind the wheel as easy as it could be.

Verdict

Not only is the Daily 4x4 very easy to drive off-road, although we would advocate specialist training for drivers, but it also manages to do it with style and refinement. Not to mention the huge amount of versatility when it comes to specifying bodywork for an almost endless list of tasks it can perform. Very specialist, yes, but at a sensible price.

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