What's in a name? Steve Banner reckons a lot of potential sales as he begins to get to know the award-winning new light van that has joined What Van?'s test fleet
If it had a Ford badge on it then registrations would probably quadruple. We're talking about Fiat Professional's Doblo Cargo, the latest van to join our long-term-test programme.
A van that has always impressed us thanks to the quality of its MultiJet diesel engines and its (for a light commercial) unusual but highly-effective rear suspension set up, it received a makeover some 18 months ago.
Doblo Cargo is up for grabs with two roof heights, two wheelbase lengths and load cubes ranging from 3.4cu/m to 5.0cu/m. Payload capacities extend from 750kg to 1005kg.
You can order Doblo Cargo as a crew van, a pick-up and a platform cab as well as in van guise.
The diesel engine line-up encompasses the 90hp 1.3-litre, the 1.6-litre at either 90hp (if you opt for the Comfort-Matic automated manual transmission) or 105hp and the 135hp 2.0-litre.
A 95hp 1.4-litre petrol lump complete the picture.
With 105hp on tap, our Doblo Cargo has the longer of the two load lengths but a standard-height roof which gives it a 4.2cu m cargo box and a Maxi designation. It is in SX trim, above entry-level Standard and EcoJet but below Tecnico, which nonetheless means a decent package of equipment.
It is a package supplemented in our case by a small mountain of extra-cost options including automatic climate control, reverse parking sensors, cruise control and 16ins alloy wheels.
Initial impressions of the newcomer are almost all positive ones.
With 104 horses to play with in a vehicle of this size there is no lack of performance, although we have yet to try it with some significant weight in the back. For your money you get a slick gear-change from the six-speed manual box and we have no quarrels at all with either the ride or the handling.
A key reason why both are to such a good standard is the aforementioned rear suspension system. A bi-link independent arrangement, it is both light and compact.
Fuel economy seems acceptable although it is too early to quote a figure and to assess whether or not the return will match the combined mpg figure quoted by the manufacturer. The way the official figures are arrived at means that they are usually at variance with what is achieved in the real world; no matter which van maker is involved.
In-cab noise levels are slightly higher that we seem to recall encountering previously but not so high that it is likely to become an annoyance.
Our Doblo Cargo does not boast sat nav so we have fairly quickly got into the habit of plugging in a portable Garmin unit instead. Unfortunately the closest 12v power socket is next to the gear lever which means trailing cable across the dashboard; cable that gets in the way when you are trying to change gear.
We cannot help but think that Fiat Professional should fit an additional power point on top of the fascia
Portable sat navs get pinched so we hide ours in a secret compartment in the passenger seat cushion. It will take the Garmin but is not quite roomy enough to swallow the holder with its tell-tale windscreen sucker and the cable too.
Stow your Garmin there and you of course have to remember that is where you have put it. We have already experienced one panic attack and searched the van from top to bottom - until we recalled where it was stashed.
|Fiat Professional Doblo Cargo Maxi 1.6 MultiJet 105hp SX|
|Claimed combined consumption 60.1 mpg|
|Our average consumption||TBA|
|Price (ex VAT)||£16,395|
|Price as tested (ex VAT) £19,760|
|Price range (ex VAT) £13,245-£20,075|
|Gross payload 1005kg|
|Load width (min/max) 1230/1714mm|
|Gross vehicle weight||2465kg|
|Braked trailer towing weight||1300kg|
|Engine size/power 1,598cc/105hp|
|Service intervals 21,000mls|
|0 Rear mud flaps - £30|
|0 External temperature sensor - £35|
|0 Radio steering wheel controls - £75|
|0 Body-coloured bumpers - £85|
|0 Leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob - £95|
|0 Folding heated electric door mirrors - £120|
|0 Cruise control - £135|
|0 Passenger airbag - £175|
|0 Reverse parking sensors - £185|
|0 Eco pack - £225|
|0 Start/Stop - £225|
|0 Metallic paint - £245|
|0 Radio/CD/MP3/USB with Bluetooth - £250|
|0 Traction+ - £295|
|0 16in alloy wheels - £395|
|0 Automatic climate control - £795|