It’s hard to avoid a sense of déjà vu when you climb behind the wheel of the new Fiat Professional Talento.
Everything feels strangely familiar and that’s because, if you have a passing knowledge of the product in the medium-van sector, it is.
The Talento is the latest model to be based on the Renault Trafic, joining the Nissan NV300 and the big-selling Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro.
Fiat Professional believes financial realities make platform sharing inevitable in today’s automotive industry and that in the Trafic, it has chosen the best vehicle to underpin its own new van and give it a more influential presence in a sector in which it has historically failed to make its mark with the Scudo.
The Talento is effectively identical to its donor model under the skin but, apart from attaching its badge to the grille, rear and steering wheel, Fiat Professional has made some cosmetic changes by introducing a more horizontal design to the nose and including LED headlamps on the bumper.
It’s in the loading capacity offered by the Talento that Fiat Professional hopes to make inroads into the mid-sized van segment.
Compared to the maximum load volume of 6.0m3 available with Scudo, its replacement goes up to 8.6m3, which, according to the brand, opens up 30% of the sector in which it was previously not competing.
The Talento has a maximum payload of 1249kg, which is slightly more than the Scudo’s 1212kg upper limit
Domenico Gostoli, Fiat Professional’s head of EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) is clear of the importance for the manufacturer in establishing a genuine contender in the burgeoning medium-van sector, which now contains the UK’s top two selling vans in the Ford transit custom and Vauxhall Vivaro.
“In the last 10 years medium vans have eaten into the bottom segment of the medium van sector, a van needs to enter the city centre, it needs agility and load volume,” he says.
The Talento comes with a choice of four Euro6 Renault-developed diesel engines – two single-turbo and a pair of twin-turbo powertrains – with outputs overall ranging from 95hp to 145hp. The engines are fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology and therefore require topping up with Ad-blue. Interestingly, Fiat Professional is employing the alternative Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) technology in its own Euro6 engines for the Ducato large van.
The Talento panel vans are available in standard and high-roof formats and in short- and long-wheelbase versions and Fiat Professional is also offering crew vans and a LWB chassis cab.
The Talento has inherited many of the clever innovations Renault introduced on the Trafic including the load-through hatch in the bulkhead at the base of the passenger seat, “CargoPlus” in Fiat-speak, which allows a load length of up to 3.75m in standard and 4.15m in LWB versions.
The cargo box is reached by rear doors and a nearside sliding door.
Driver comfort is enhanced by a height adjustable seat with an armrest and a steering wheel that can be moved for both reach and rake.
The obligatory “mobile office” requirement is fulfilled by a fold down central passenger seat that holds a removable A4 clipboard and includes under seat storage. Standard with SX this costs £170 on base models.
The Talento also gets the simple but ingenious wide view mirror fitted to the passenger sun visor that Renault debuted in the Trafic to eliminate the driver’s blind spot on the near-side of the vehicle. Fiat dubs this very useful device, which is standard on SX trim but a £60 option at entry-level, ViewPlus.
Standard safety kit on the base model includes Hill Holder and Traction+ to improve grip on loose surfaces while comfort and convenience is enhanced by Bluetooth, DAB radio, USB connectivity, steering wheel-mounted remote controls and a full-size spare wheel.
We drove the most powerful 1.6-litre twin-turbo Ecojet diesel with output of 145hp and maximum torque of 340Nm. This engine provides impressive responsiveness across its full range and works smoothly in conjunction with the slick, six-speed manual gearbox that is standard across the line-up. It is particularly happy on long motorway slogs so operators more usually engaged in urban work may prefer to opt for the 125hp twin-turbo or either the 95 or 120hp single-turbo. These smaller engines are not, however, the most economical with best official consumption of 46.3mpg and CO2 of 160g/km being matched by the 145hp unit. The most frugal honour goes to the 125 twin-turbo with figures of 47.9mpg and 155g/km.
The trouble with basing your new van on a product that’s already been on sale for a couple of years, however, is that in the meantime the competition ups its game. PSA brands Peugeot and Citroen now claim fuel consumption of 55.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 133g/km for their new Expert and Dispatch medium vans and Ford cites best official consumption of 49.6mpg albeit with CO2 of 161g/km.
The SX trim, which has a £1000 premium over the entry model gets air-conditioning, otherwise a £720 option, rear parking sensors and full wheel covers as well as the aforementioned Mobile Office and ViewPlus mirror.
Also on the option list are: automatic lights and wipers and front fog lights, both £110, bulkhead window (£60), leather trimmed steering wheel (£70), reversing camera with interior mirror monitor (£280, cruise contgrol and speed limiter (£170), glazed rear doors and plylining, both £170, seven-inch multi-media touchscreen with satnav (£400) and tow-bar with trailer swing mitigation (£310).
|Fiat Professional Talento SX 1.6 145hp L2H1|
|Price (ex VAT) £ 23,445|
|Price range (ex VAT) £19,745-£26,535|
|Insurance group 9E|
|Service intervals 21,000mls|
|Load length 2937mm|
|Load width min/max 1268mm/1662mm|
|Gross payload 1243kg|
|Load Volume 6.0m3|
|Engine size/power 1598cc/145hp|
|On sale June 2016|
|Combined fuel economy 46.3mpg|
The Talento is an extremely capable medium van based on a tried and trusted model that should see Fiat Professional gain a foothold in the sector.