After over 10,000 miles the moment has arrived when we have to bid a genuinely fond farewell to our Fiat long-termer, writes Steve Banner
It’s time to say a heartfelt goodbye to our long-term test Fiorino Cargo Adventure – and the report card is on balance a positive one.
But let’s start with the negatives.
Acceleration isn’t exactly brisk, especially when heading uphill, and the unladen ride can be choppy.
In-cab noise levels could be better suppressed, radio reception is poor, and the five-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard for the extra-cost satnav is so small I started sticking my own portable Garmin to the windscreen instead, despite having to trail a length of cable across the dash to plug it into the 12V power point.
On the plus side, the Fiorino Cargo Adventure is a hugely practical, handsome little van.
The Traction+ electronic diff lock, raised suspension, and mud and snow tyres were all more than welcome in some atrocious winter weather, as was the front skid plate. It is exactly what you want when you suddenly encounter a cavernous pothole hidden by snow.
I liked the manoeuvrability too – it handled like a go-kart – the gear-change was perfectly acceptable, and it proved to be frugal.
To that can be added a long service interval, a decent warranty, and support from a network that includes some top-notch truck dealers.
I used the Cargo Adventure to haul everything from bagged sand and gravel, as well as bags of old roofing felt, to decrepit furniture destined for the local council tip.
It swallowed builder’s waste and large pot plants too, not to mention electrical appliances destined for recycling – all without complaint.
Loading was a doddle thanks to the sliding door on each side of the cargo box (the offside one is optional) and the twin rear doors, and the cargo area was easy to clean.
Six tie-down points are provided but I never had occasion to use them. Nor did I employ the hefty-looking roof bars.
Aside from an ill-fitting glove box lid, the Cargo Adventure was well put together. Nothing creaked, squeaked, rattled or dropped off during our tenure and the only real problem we had was when a flying stone gouged a bulls-eye out of the windscreen on the motorway right next to the passenger-side A-pillar.
Some manufacturers may disagree, but I reckon there is still a place in the market for a van of this size. Okay, it will not carry as much as its bigger stablemates, but it will shift a lot more than you might expect at first sight, and it’s a darn sight easier to park.
And while Traction+ and a raised suspension don’t give you the capabilities of full-on four-wheel drive, they’ll help you get to the majority of the places you’re likely to want to go at less cost.
Former is exemplary but occasionally sluggish acceleration lets down latter.
Fuel economy 4/5
Impressive despite Adventure having a five- rather than a six-speed gearbox.
Ride quality 3/5
Tends to hop from one pothole to another when unladen but a big load of bagged gravel soon calms its nerves.
Load area 4/5
Good access from three sides, plenty of tie-down points and a solid bulkhead.
Effective aircon contributes to a decent driving environment.
Radio and satnav are fair to middling but the raised suspension, skid plate and enhanced traction can be invaluable.
Not suitable for heavily rutted terrain but should get you up a muddy farm track or down an icy country road without too many traumas.
Gear change 4/5
Smooth enough not to raise concerns.
Overall score 70%
Fiat Professional Fiorino Cargo 1.3 Multijet II Adventure
Official combined consumption 62.8mpg
Our average consumption 60.0mpg
Price range (ex VAT) £11,970-£14,654
Price (ex VAT) £14,645
Service intervals 2yrs/21,000mls
Load length 1,523mm
Load width (min/max) 1,046/1,473mm
Load bay height 1,205mm
Load volume 2.5m3
Gross payload 660kg
Engine size/power 1,248cc/95hp
Gearbox 5-spd manual
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