It’s that slippery, sliding-about time of year again and I’m not talking about ice and snow.
What I’ve got in mind is the way in which paddocks and rural tracks, which were bone-dry and rock-hard in early summer turn to mush in late autumn thanks to days of heavy rain combined with a carpet of fallen leaves.
It is then that you realise you could do with a bit more grip and that is what the Fiorino Cargo Adventure has been delivering courtesy of its Traction+ electronic diff lock. All you need to do to switch it on is hit a button on the dashboard and a message on the instrument panel tells you it is engaged.
When combined with the Cargo Adventure’s mud and snow tyres, extra ground clearance and underfloor protection including a front skid plate, it ensures you keep rolling in conditions that would otherwise cause you to struggle. Switch it off when in the midst of the mire and you soon feel the difference.
Okay, it’s not nearly as effective as full-blown four-wheel drive when the going gets tough, but it’s cheaper, lighter and has next to no discernible impact on the little van’s fuel economy. It’s a feature to look out for if you’re buying a van you are going to use in the countryside or if your work means you have to be out in all weathers 24/7.
Something that certainly had an impact was a flying stone that smacked the windscreen good and hard and gouged a bull’s-eye out of it next to the A-pillar on the passenger side that was too big to be repaired. Just the sort of damage you might incur on the decrepit rural roads of Herefordshire – but on the motorway?
From the bull’s-eye emanated a crack which began modestly and took a while to lengthen noticeably, which says something about the robust quality of Fiat’s windscreens. Clearly something had to be done about it so Fiat Professional took the van off me, replaced the windscreen and returned the Cargo Adventure a few days’ later.
It prompted me to think about all the other vans that suffer windscreen damage thanks to poor highway maintenance, and how much such damage costs the owners and the inconvenience they suffer.
Since then the Fiat has been used to shift time-served furniture, which even the most desperate of charity shops wouldn’t accept, to the local tip. It’s an exercise that has served to illustrate once again how easy the front-wheel drive Cargo Adventure is to load and unload thanks to twin rear doors and a door on either side of the cargo area.
Report Card: Gear Change Score = 4/5
It’s smooth enough not to raise any concerns.
Fiat Professional Fiorino Cargo 1.3 MultiJet II Adventure
Official combined consumption62.8mpg
Our average consumption 60.0mpg
Price range (ex VAT) £11,970–£14,645
Price (ex VAT) £14,645
Service intervals 2yrs/21,000mls
Load length 1,523mm
Load width (min/max) 1,046/1,473mm
Load bay height 1,205mm
Gross payload 660kg
Load volume 2.5m3
Engine size/power 1,248cc/95hp
On sale June 2016
Click next for previous reports