If we were to pick one van that has improved immeasurably over the past few years in terms of build quality, driveability and overall fitness for purpose, then it would have to be Iveco’s Daily. Available as a chassis cab and a chassis double cab as well as in van guise, it’s a worthy repeat winner of our Large Van of the Year award.
The Italian manufacturer has continually updated Daily over the years and extensively revised it yet again a few months back. The changes are all to the good and include new engines, a step up into a higher weight category and an understated facelift.
Among the new powerplants is a 3.0-litre diesel fitted with twin turbochargers to improve combustion and performance. Producing either 140hp or 170hp, it meets the EEV (Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle) standard. Designed with the future Euro 6 exhaust emission regulations in mind, EEV compliance is voluntary and involves lower particulate limits.
Also complying with EEV is a 136hp 3.0-litre that will run on compressed natural gas. It comes with a small, 15-litre, get-you-home petrol tank for use if you run out of cng. All Dailys that meet EEV are promoted under the EcoDaily banner to emphasise their environmental credentials.
Two new versions of the existing 2.3-litre diesel have been introduced at 106hp and 126hp and are offered alongside the existing 96hp, 116hp and 136hp options. The last-named is fitted with a variable-geometry turbocharger. The 146hp and 176hp 3.0-litre diesels remain available, with the more powerful of the two also employing variable geometry turbo technology.
Iveco has also decided to market Daily at 7.0 tonnes in both van and chassis cab guise with a payload capacity well in excess of 4.0 tonnes. The Daily 6.5-tonner continues to be available. Daily gross weights start at 3.2 tonnes, payload capacity starts at 1,060kg, and van load volumes run from 7.3m3 to a cavernous 17.2m3.
Turning to the facelift, the key external changes include a new, honeycomb-style front grille. Internal alterations include a revamped, aluminium-effect, dashboard. Increased stress is being placed on safety, with ABS, Electronic Stability Programme, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Hydraulic Brake Assist and Anti-Slip Regulator among the devices fitted. Hill Holder, which stops you rolling backwards if you’re trying to move away on a steep incline, is another feature. Synthetic engine lubricant is being used to allow drain intervals to be set at 25,000 miles and to reduce component wear.
The AGile semi-automatic gearbox continues to be available. A doddle to use, it executes changes smoothly, with none of the jerkiness often associated with boxes of this type.
Iveco should be praised for the work it has done developing electric and diesel-electric hybrid versions of Daily. A number are now on trial in various global markets.
Our Highly Commended choice is Mercedes-Benz’s Sprinter, now fully compliant with the Euro 5 exhaust emission regulations. That’s despite the fact that the rules as they affect light commercials grossing at up to 3.5 tonnes don’t come into force until 2011. Sprinter is marketed at gross weights of up to 5.0 tonnes. An all-new 2.1-litre diesel up for grabs at 95hp, 129hp and 163hp and fitted with Lanchester balancer shafts as an aid to smooth running is the key weapon in the redesigned vehicle’s armoury.