Steve Banner loads up the Fiat with half a tonne of weight to see how both the van’s engine and handling react
Light commercials are designed as workhorses and need a good workout from time to time. It’s with this thought in mind that I took my long-term-test Doblo Cargo Maxi off to a local builders’ merchant and loaded it up with bagged gravel to around half its permitted payload capacity. That means around half a tonne in the van’s 4.2m3 cargo box when I left.
I expected all that weight to slow us down, but not a bit of it: the 105hp 1.6-litre diesel engine took the extra burden in its stride, I didn’t have to work especially hard with the six-speed manual gearbox to maintain momentum, and the load had no discernible impact on the vehicle’s performance.
Nor did it have any impact on the handling, which remains exemplary no matter whether the vehicle is laden or empty. In fact, it seems to get better and better and makes the Fiat a real pleasure to drive, especially given how responsive the steering is.
‘Pleasure’ is not a word we would associate with the radio, however. No matter what we do, it seems to drift away from the station we’ve tuned it to, which is accompanied by a series of crackles. That means, of course, that we may be missing out on the finer points of the Great Referendum Debate – so perhaps it’s not such a bad thing. The lack of fun with the radio is also probably due to being a bit thick-fingered when it comes to small buttons and not paying attention to what it says in the handbook, which is still sitting unopened in the glove box.
Older drivers prone to senior moments should never be given vans with hidden compartments because they forget they’ve got them and what they’ve put in them. The concealed compartment in the passenger seat cushion has already left me hunting the cabin for a supposedly lost and vitally needed bunch of keys, and
for my Garmin.
Fiat Professional Doblo Cargo Maxi 1.6 MultiJet 105hp SX
|Official consumption||60.1 mpg|
|Our average consumption||52.0 mpg|
|Price (ex VAT)||£16,395|