Iveco’s Daily has been a longstanding favourite of operators who need a large van that can put up with a tougher, more demanding working life than most of its competitors.
For the new model that arrived in the UK in the autumn of last year the manufacturer has retained the ladder frame chassis structure to which it credits its renowned durability despite renewing 80% of the 3.5 t van’s body parts - including the completely redesigned wishbone Quadleaf front suspension and recalibrated rear suspension, the components contributing most to an improvement in ride quality, according to Iveco.
The combination of the Daily’s enduring strength and a significant step up in refinement saw the new generation model scoop the What Van? Large Van of the Year Award 2015.
Alongside a wide selection of panel vans the new Daily is also offered with a variety of bodied chassis cabs, such as the 2.3-litre 146hp Luton van driven here. Iveco reckons chassis cabs will take about one-third of all Daily sales.
The Luton bodyshape is likely to appeal to the Daily’s largest customer – supermarket giant Tesco, which has 4200 examples on its fleet and has renewed the contract for 2015. Fellow supermarket Asda is another major customer and both firms will specify their replacement vehicles with Iveco’s new eight-speed automatic Hi-matic transmission, which replaces the somewhat rudimentary semi-auto Agile package, in order to sidestep driver abuse of manual ‘boxes. Unfortunately this system was not available at the time of our test drive and surprisingly, it is set to be offered only with the lower-powered 106 and 126hp versions of the 2.3-litre engine and not with the 146hp unit.
Our van came with six-speed manual transmission and this system worked crisply enough in conjunction with the keen and responsive powertrain on a route consisting of A-roads, motorways and winding, hilly country lanes passing through villages.
With a half-load on board of about 800kg and a bit of snow on the ground the big rear-wheel drive van took it all in its stride.
The 2.3 146hp engine would seem to be a good fit for long, inter city runs but the interior comfort in the chassis cab did not seem to be on a par with that of the panel vans. Iveco claims the glass areas are larger than on the previous range but the windscreen seemed shallow, contributing to a slightly claustrophobic in-cab ambiance, and did not have a storage shelf above it.
Otherwise storage space is adequate with a pair of cup holders and bins in the doors as well as lidded dash top storage. The middle passenger seat contains a pullout desktop and the radio/cd player comes with Bluetooth and USB/Aux connectivity and steering wheel mounted controls.
The driver’s seat is three-way adjustable and the steering wheel rake can also be adjusted. Large exterior rear view mirrors with a wide view angle give good vision behind the vehicle.
Unfortunately Iveco was not able to supply the payload capacity or fuel economy figures for the Daily Luton 35 because it is a bespoke-built body and has not been weighed or tested for fuel consumption.
However, its load volume of 18.3m3 compares favourably with an established rival the Citroen Relay Ready to Run Luton L3, which offers a load volume of 17.8m3.
A good, gutsy engine but it would benefit from the Hi-matic automatic transmission and the chassis cab lacks some of the panel van’s refinement.