First Drive: Fiat Doblo Work Up

Date: Friday, March 23, 2012

Fiat has ventured into its own new segment with the launch of the Fiat Doblo Work Up. A compact dropside pick-up, the Work Up is designed to operate in urban confines with the specific targets of agricultural, construction, maintenance and city park services sectors.

The Work Up’s load bay is made up of a high-resistance steel box, with aluminium alloy sides that all drop independently, plus an anti-slip multi-layer wood floor, while the payload sits at 1000kg and Fiat claims three Euro pallets, or 33 boxes of fruit, will fit into the back section.
The Work Up also features a handy small step on either side to ease access to the load area, and the frame incorporates a ladder rack, load-restraining
hooks and a protective grille to stop loads crashing through the cab’s rear window.
Two engines from the Doblo Cargo range make it across to the dropside derivative: the 90hp 1.3 and 105hp 1.6 Multijet diesels. Both have stop/start technology, although Fiat’s Stop & Start system isn’t the best on the market and has the occasional tendency to get caught out if it’s shutting down as the lights change and you want the engine to fire quickly.
The 105hp Multijet tested here is a strong performer, as previously found in other versions of the Doblo, the reigning What Van? Light Van of the Year. Its official figures read as 49.6mpg
for fuel economy and 150g/km of CO2, compared with the slightly better 55.4mpg and 133g/km of the £1000 cheaper 90hp 1.3, the Doblo Cargo’s most popular engine, which would be fine for people not expecting to make frequent use of the full 1000kg payload.  
The looks divided opinion during the Work Up’s time on test with us. While some, including half of the What Van? editorial team, like it, “Tonka Toy”, “Lego” and “cartoon van” were also mentioned in connection with it with varying degrees of compliment intended.
The cabin is well laid out and built with good-quality materials, while it also feels airy thanks to the large windscreen and glazed rear bulkhead just behind the two seats. The only problem with that rear window is that, especially at night, oncoming traffic reflects off it and back onto the rear view mirror to make it look like oncoming vehicles  are actually steaming up from behind. It takes a bit of getting used to, and in the meantime is rather disconcerting.
Fiat’s new arrival is a welcome move designed to give more choice to niche areas of the market that aren’t currently properly catered for – some businesses don’t need the off-road ability and ground clearance of a full pick-up, and dropside light commercials aren’t really available below the size of the Ford Transit. The Work Up isn’t the sort of vehicle that will have mass-market appeal, but it’s well thought-out, well-put together and, for the right buyer, will be an appealing small pick-up that meets their needs better than anything currently on sale.

 

Verdict
Unique offering in the market that will appeal to some sectors, although the price isn’t cheap.



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