Turbocharged and intercooled, the four-cylinder common-rail engine in our demonstrator delivers its maximum power output at 3,600rpm. Maximum torque of 320Nm bites across a 1,800-2,500rpm plateau and the engine is married to a six-speed manual gearbox.
AdBlue is not required to meet the Euro6 exhaust emission rules because Fiat Professional has installed a low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve instead
An independent suspension with MacPherson-type struts is fitted at the front while longitudinal leaf springs help support the rear.
Our test van’s extra-cost 15in alloy wheels were shod with 215/70 R15 C ContiVanContact 100 tyres from Continental. Power steering delivers a 12.8m turning circle between kerbs.
The handling on the Fiat Professional Ducato is a bit of a revelation. Push it hard into a bend and keep the power on and it just hangs on in there, showing no inclination to lurch off to one side or the other – unless, of course, you do something foolish.
The suspension ensures you are well planted on the highway and the steering tells you exactly what is happening.
The ride is acceptable, though not outstanding, and much the same can be said for the level of noise suppression in the cab. And while going up and down the six-speed manual gearbox usually posed no problems, the shift from fifth to sixth and back down again offered by our demonstrator felt awkward and notchy at times.
Returning to the positive side, the Multijet II diesel offered ample performance, especially on the motorway. On the M5 between Gloucester and the junction with the M4 it was the gift that kept on giving, pouring on the power and having to be reined in every few miles, even when the Ducato was half-laden.
Our progress was alas accompanied by an intermittent, irritating, beeping and a warning light on the dashboard that told us that the handbrake was on, even though we knew it wasn’t. Whenever the beeping stopped we knew it would start again every time we turned right or left. We could only assume that it was a faulty sensor and wondered if the handbrake lever had been removed and replaced at some point.
Positioned between the driver’s seat and door as is usual on Ducato, it seemed to sit at a slightly odd angle, making it difficult for the driver to get his (quite small) hand between the lever and the lower door bin. It also posed something of a hazard every time we exited the driver’s seat.
Front fog lights are fitted – as an option – but we were driving in bright sunny weather so we had no need of them.
Fuel economy? We achieved around 45mpg, roughly the official combined fuel consumption figure.
So how does the 130hp 2.3-litre compare with the 131hp 2.0-litre fitted to the Peugeot Boxer and Citroen Relay? The latter is slightly more frugal on the combined cycle according to official figures and offers 30Nm more torque at a marginally lower engine speed. The Multijet’s torque is delivered across a wide plateau, however, according to Fiat Professional’s figures.