The Iveco Daily has made it a straight hat-trick of wins in the Large Van category in 2017 by retaining the award it took from the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in 2015.

The Daily’s position as the outstanding heavy van in the marketplace has been cemented by the excellence of its eight-speed Himatic transmission that is now available in both its 2.3- and 3.0-litre engines.

For the time being the two-pedal Daily is in the clear but next year it will face stiffer competition when both Ford and Volkswagen introduce automatic gearboxes to their respective large vans, the Transit and Crafter.

Nevertheless, the product from the competition will have to be pretty strong to knock the sumptuously slick ZF-sourced system off its perch. It has a glamorous and unusual pedigree for an LCV-based product, having already served time in prestige cars from the likes of Maserati, Bentley and Rolls Royce.

Iveco brought to market its Euro6 Daily in June, well before the emissions regulation became mandatory in September. Outputs across the two engines range from 120hp to 210hp.

Unusually, the manufacturer has opted to offer a combination of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technologies to comply with the emissions standard and reduce emissions by up to 10% compared with Euro5 models. Most other manufacturers have plumped exclusively for SCR, which requires periodic topping up with urea-based AdBlue solution.

Until January 2017 the 2.3-litre engine will come with low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation (LP-EGR) technology that does not require the addition of AdBlue. From the new year, however, Iveco will also offer the 2.3-litre engine with SCR technology. It claims to have compensated for the necessity to add an AdBlue tank by reducing the weight of the re-engineered engine by 6%.

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 still.

The big 3.0-litre engine, which is available with outputs of 150hp, 180hp and 210hp, is exclusively offered with SCR. The smaller 2.3 unit steps from 120hp to 140hp to 160hp.

Customers can chose between a six-speed manual or the aforementioned eight-speed automatic Himatic transmission with two exceptions: the 150hp 3.0 is only manual while the most powerful 210hp 3.0-litre unit is exclusively Himatic.

When we drove a Euro6 Daily with the 180hp 3.0-litre engine, serving up maximum torque of 430Nm at 1,500rpm and with the Himatic gearbox, we came to the conclusion that once they have experienced the auto gearbox customers would be very unlikely to revert to a manual transmission van.

Martin Flach, Iveco’s product boss, agrees: he is confident the Himatic will become the default choice for Daily operators, with just a minority opting for the manual.

When working on multi-drop delivery work the driver does not get tired out by the constant gear-changing a manual ‘box demands, and which also serves to wear out the clutch – a fact noted by Iveco’s supermarket clients, Asda and Tesco, which specify Himatic transmissions for their fleets of Daily vans. Iveco claims the Himatic can deliver repair and maintenance savings of up to 10% compared with manual models.

All Daily models boast sharp and precise steering and excellent handling for large vans and offer payloads from 1,185kg to 1,500kg with load volumes spanning from a compact 7.0m3 to a vast 19.6m3.
A big innovation on the Euro6 Daily is the Daily Business Up app that can be downloaded to tablets and smartphones.

Developed with telematics firm Sygic, the app establishes Bluetooth connection with
the vehicle through the digital DAB radio. It offers driving style evaluation to encourage safer and more economical driving, satnav, a dealer and workshop locator, vehicle information via an interactive user handbook and drivers’ work, and route schedules.

Highly Commended: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

 HC PIC Sprinter class=

The Sprinter is a fine and accomplished large van. It is available in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive formats and is up for grabs with seven-speed 7G-Tronic transmission, which, like category winner the Iveco Daily, makes it a favourite with multi-drop delivery firms.

At the Hanover CV Show in September Mercedes unveiled an insight into what its large van of the future could look like. The Vision is a concept Sprinter-size electric LCV with a pair of drones mounted on its roof and compact, wheeled robots in its cargo bay, which will take goods straight to the customer’s door.

Fitted with a 75kW drive package and piloted with a joystick rather than a steering wheel, the Vision offers a claimed range of 170 miles. Mercedes intends to launch an electric van in 2018 as a follow-on from the Vito E-Cell. It will be interesting to see how many of the aforementioned features it includes.