Iveco is eagerly burnishing Daily’s environmental credentials. Earlier this year it delivered ten diesel/electric hybrid vans to FedEx Express for extended on-the-job evaluation in northern Italy. Plans are afoot to commence volume production of a Daily hybrid by the end of 2009. As if that weren’t sufficient Iveco has come up with a version that will run on compressed natural gas and is developing a battery-powered model too.
All that is praiseworthy enough, but even more so are the standard diesel engines that power the mainstream Daily; What Van?’s Large Panel Van of the Year. They are without doubt among the best units in their class.
The 2.3-litre HPI (High Performance Injection) is produced at 96hp or 116hp. An HPT (High Performance Turbo) version of the same power pack pumps out 136hp, the difference being that it’s fitted with a variable, as opposed to a fixed, geometry turbocharger. Its 3.0-litre companion can be ordered at either 146hp (HPI) or 176hp (HPT). A six-speed automated manual AGile box is listed as an extra-cost option and is one of the most competent ’boxes of its type on the market.
Back in 2006 Daily underwent a whole host of revisions including all-new external styling and a reworked interior. Less visible changes were made too, including the introduction of bigger brakes, a beefed-up van cargo box and a re-jigged, fully independent front suspension system. All of these alterations have combined to improve significantly a vehicle that was already heading in the right direction.
Daily customers are faced with an almost-bewildering amount of choice. They can pick from vans, chassis cabs and chassis double cabs, gross weights run from 3.2 to 6.5 tonnes and payload capacities run from 1,060kg to 3,640kg. Van load areas extend from 7.3m3 to a yodel-inducing 17.2m3.
ABS and EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) both come as standard. The latter prevents individual wheels from locking under heavy braking. ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) is available too. It takes into account the height and positioning of any cargo being carried when trying to stop the vehicle turning over if the driver has to swerve suddenly. It also includes a hill-holder function to stop you rolling backwards when you’re trying to move away on an incline.
Daily’s cab interior is a huge improvement on what Iveco served up previously and we’re especially impressed by the changes made to the dashboard. But we’re even more impressed by the quality and competence of the dealer network.
Iveco also sells a range of trucks so its dealers automatically provide light commercial customers with the high standard of aftersales back-up demanded by hauliers; a standard that remains an elusive concept so far as so many van dealers whose mainstream activity is car sales are concerned.
Of course Daily doesn’t have this sector of the market all to its self. Oozing class, with high quality diesel engines and on offer with an Eco Start system that cuts the engine if the driver allows it to idle at the lights, saving on fuel and reducing pollution, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter gets our Highly Commended award.