The Iveco Daily belongs to the hierarchy of serial What Van? Award winners. The large light commercial has been voted the outstanding model in its category for three straight years now since it reclaimed the prize from the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in 2015.

The Daily has long held a deserved reputation for tough durability but has more recently added a generous measure of refinement to the mix.

Much of the improvement in ride quality has come courtesy of the excellence of the eight-speed automatic Himatic transmission that is now available in both the van’s 2.3- and 3.0-litre engines. Consummately smooth, the ZF-made ’box originated in prestige cars and can be found in models from the likes of Maserati, Bentley and Rolls Royce.

At the moment the Daily is sitting pretty on its perch at the top of the sector, but it is facing more intense competition this year from Ford and Volkswagen, which have both introduced automatic gearboxes to their respective large vans, the Transit and Crafter, to join the Iveco van’s traditional rival, the Sprinter.

But the Daily has set the bar high and the competition will have to prove its worth to stop it from notching up another win in 2018. Stuart Webster, Iveco’s UK boss, believes the quality of the product and the aftersales support it gets from the firm’s HGV-based network will keep the Daily at the forefront of the large van segment.

Webster does not underestimate the significance of the recognition the award bestows upon the van. “Winning the What Van? Large Van of the Year award for the third-year running is the ultimate testament to the Daily range’s proven reliability, versatility and productivity – coupled with our best-in-class Himatic transmission,” he says.

Webster claims the Euro6 Daily, which has been available since June 2016, presents a compelling proposition for sustainable transport. The 2.3-litre engine meets the emissions standard with a choice of low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation (LP-EGR) technology
that does not require the addition of AdBlue and selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which does require the addition of the urea-based solution.

According to Iveco, the EGR engine has 8% lower fuel consumption than the Euro5 unit
while the SCR version is a further 2% more frugal. All 3.0-litre versions use SCR technology.

Webster claims the Daily gives Iveco a wider and more flexible range than any other rear-wheel drive light commercial vehicle on the market. He says the brand is working hard to build on its retail strengths but also to build up business in the fleet market – “a sector where we are seeing encouraging signs”,he adds.

Another renewed area of focus is electric vans – an area of the market that Webster feels is finally set to play a more central role. He is aware, however, that the issue of battery weight eating into payload is still a concern for operators.

“To compensate, the Government is looking at extending the car driving licence limit up to 4.25 tonnes for alternatively fuelled vehicles, making up for the additional weight and adding some 350–400kg of payload,” Webster says.

“Potentially, that makes the vehicle a far more practical alternative and we hope to know the outcome of their discussions later this year.” Iveco has lobbied hard for such a change to the regulation and Webster estimates a six-year payback period on an electric van for a typical inner-city London operator.

The electric Daily is available with one to three batteries, with prices stepping up from £60,000 to £80,000 to £100,000 and corresponding ranges going from 50 to 100 to 150 miles, according to product manager Martin Flach.

“Iveco is in the very enviable position of being a long way ahead of most our competitors in making alternatively fuelled vehicles a reality, and news of the first Daily Electric entering operation with a UK customer won’t be far away,” promises Webster.