Appearances can be deceptive.

Fiat Professional’s Ducato looks pretty much the same as Citroen’s Relay and Peugeot’s Boxer thanks to a long-standing joint venture with PSA Group.

PSA owns the two French brands as well as Vauxhall.

Yet although the three front-wheel drive vans share the same basic design, there is a key difference under the bonnet: while the Relay and Boxer rely on a 2.0-litre diesel, up for grabs at 109hp, 131hp or 161hp, the Ducato employs Fiat’s own 2.3-litre Multijet II diesel at 130hp, 150hp or 180hp, so the Ducato is the one to go for if you need an extra dollop of power. Also available is a 2.0-litre (Fiat’s, not PSA’s) Multijet II developing 115hp.

The Ducato is on offer with three different wheelbases and three different heights. Load cubes range from 8.0m3 to 17.0m3 , gross weights extend from 3.0t to 4.25t, while payloads run from 1,000kg to 2,100kg.

It is also produced as a crew van with a rear cargo compartment, a window van, a chassis cab, a chassis crew cab, and as a platform cab.

In addition, Fiat Professional makes the cab, engine, transmission and front wheels available as a package for special conversions minus the chassis.

We sampled a medium-wheelbase medium-height 35 MH2 2.3 3.5t van with 130hp on tap and in entry-level Standard trim. More upmarket Tecnico and Sportivo trim levels are available too.

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Load bay

Entry to the 11.5m3 load bay is via a sliding nearside door plus twin rear doors that can be opened to 90°, then to 180° if you press a button found on each of them that releases the stays.

The side and rear door apertures are wide and tall, making for easy loading, and loading is made easier still by a low cargo bed.

All the doors can be locked and unlocked by pushing a button on the inside of the driver’s door.

A full-height steel bulkhead with two lashing rings at its base separates the cargo area from the cab.

Three more lashing rings are positioned at waist height on the offside load bay wall, and face two more on the nearside. In our case the cargo bay was timbered out completely apart from the wheel boxes, and any floor-mounted rings were concealed under wood.

It’s good to see two lights, plus a shelf above the cab that is accessible from the load area.


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Interior and equipment

Fiat Professional could without doubt stand to improve the quality of the three-seater cab’s plastic trim, especially so far as the dashboard is concerned. It looks a little low-rent when compared with the material used in some of Ducato’s key competitors.

On the positive side, cab access is easy (although exiting it can be a mite awkward, as we point out later) and there is certainly no lack of storage space.

Each of the doors boasts two bins, the glove box has a shelf above it, and you will find a lidded bin on top of the fascia on the passenger side; if your van has air-conditioning then it acts like a mini chill cabinet to stop your chocolate from melting.

A removable cup-sized container is positioned on the dashboard, which you can put sweet wrappers in and tip into the nearest waste bin once full.

Look down and you will find a couple of cup-holders with a tray in between in a console that projects from the bottom of the dashboard. Unfortunately, it steals some of the centre passenger’s leg room.

The console also plays host to a smartphone holder plus awkwardly positioned aux-in and USB sockets. If you didn’t know they were there then you’d never find them.

A clipboard to keep paperwork tidy is permanently attached to the top of the fascia with small shelves on each side. In some models it pops up so that whoever is behind the wheel can get a better look at its contents. In our test van it did not, apparently because our demonstrator was fitted with an optional dual passenger airbag.

The driver was protected by an airbag too.

Pull down the centre section of the middle seat and it turns into a desk with two cup-holders – one big, one small – a pen tray and another clipboard.

The height and the angle of the driver’s seat cushion can be adjusted and the steering wheel, which is annoyingly offset to the left, is height-adjustable too. The seat has an inboard armrest plus lumbar adjustment.

Electric windows are fitted, as are electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors with a lower wide-angle section.

Bluetooth is standard and the radio features remote controls on the steering wheel. Both the wheel and gear knob were trimmed in leather – a pricy option (see options list, left).
Our Fiat Professional Ducato was laden with a mountain of other options including air-conditioning, cruise control operated from a stalk on the steering column, and a DAB Uconnect radio with a CD player and TomTom satellite navigation.

The map display is on a 5.0in dashboard colour touchscreen. It really needs to be a 7.0in screen at least for greater clarity, especially since it also shows what the optional rear-view camera can see when you reverse. Engaging reverse triggers the rear parking sensors and the reversing beepers.

Disc brakes are fitted all round. The Ducato comes with ABS, electronic stability control, rollover mitigation, load adaptive control and hill holder among other safety features.

For those who might find some of the options listed on the first page of this road test a touch confusing – we certainly did – the reference to ‘saddle head restraints’ means that the ones fitted to the passenger seat are height-adjustable. ‘High-level panel board’ apparently means that this Ducato sports fancier than usual dials on its instrument panel.

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Engine and gearbox

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.

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Buying and running

The Fiat Professional Ducato is covered by a three-year/100,000-mile warranty with no mileage limit in the first two years, while the service intervals are set at two years and 30,000 miles.

Roadside assistance is provided free for the first 12 months of ownership.
Our Ducato was provided with a full-size spare wheel.

Side rubbing strips helped protect our demonstrator’s optional metallic paint.

The bumpers and big, easy to use with a gloved hand, vertical door handles were colour-keyed to match the rest of the body.

The front bumper is in four sections, which means it does not have to be replaced in its entirety if only part of it is damaged.

Ducato Van 35 MH2 2.3 Multijet II 130hp
Price (ex VAT) £28,420
Price range (ex VAT)   £23,470-£34,370
Gross payload  1,575kg
Load length     3,120mm
Load width (min/max)            1,422/1,870mm
Load bay height          1,932mm
Load volume   11.5m3
Loading height            550mm
Rear door aperture     1,562 x 1,790mm
Side door aperture      1,250 x 1,755mm
Gross vehicle weight  3,500kg
Braked trailer towing weight  2,500kg
Residual value             18.1%*
Cost per mile    54.9p*
Engine  2,287cc, 130hp @ 3,600rpm
Torque            320Nm @ 1,800r-2,500rpm
Gearbox           6-speed
Fuel economy 44.8mpg (combined)
Fuel tank          90 litres
CO2      166g/km
Warranty         3yrs/100,000mls
Service intervals          2yrs/30,000mls
Insurance group           9E
Price as tested             £33,410

Options fitted
Manual air-conditioning          £800
Alloy wheels    £500
Metallic paint  £500
Satnav/DAB/5in touchscreen/CD       £450
Body-colour bumpers             £340
Rear-view camera       £340
LED daytime running lights    £280
Reversing parking sensors      £260
Alarm system £230
Cruise control £230
Passenger-side airbag             £230
Rain and dusk sensor  £190
Leather-trimmed steering wheel & gear knob     £170
Front fog lights           £140
Black front grille and chrome bars     £120
High-level panel board            £120
Body-colour door handles       £60
Front adjust. saddle head restraint     £30

The Final Verdict



 Nothing that jumps out as truly original.



Plenty of storage space but quality needs an uplift.



Acceptable but not outstanding.



 As with the ride, acceptable but not outstanding.

Load area


Big doors, low loading height and decent illumination.



 Both exemplary, the former especially so.



 Love the engine; gear change could be smoother.

Standard equipment


You need to spend a bit to get the kit.

Operating costs


Decent warranty and service intervals.

What Van? subjective rating


 Solid but unsophisticated workhorse.


Ford Transit
Price (ex VAT) £24,470-£36,285
Load volume    9.5-15.1m3
Gross payload    872-2,169kg
Engines     105hp, 130hp, 170hp 2.0 diesel
Verdict: It’s a long time since it was assembled in Britain, yet the all-conquering Transit remains the nation’s LCV flag carrier. Impressive engines, a slick gear change and a well thought-out cab are all reasons for opting for it. Check out the SelectShift six-speed auto gearbox if you’re on parcel delivery work.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Price (ex VAT) £24,350-£44,275
Load volume      7.8-17m3
Gross payload    804-2,547kg
Engines    112hp, 140hp, 163hp 2.1 diesel, 190hp 3.0 diesel

Verdict: Now offered with front- as well as rear-wheel drive and with a nine-speed auto gearbox listed as an option, the latest Sprinter is one of the most impressive vans you will ever encounter. Once again safety gets top priority, with a variety of onboard systems available to protect both vehicle and driver.

Vauxhall Movano
Price (ex VAT) £24,645-£37,335
Load volume 7.8-17.0m3
Gross payload 920-2,200kg
Engines 110hp, 130hp, 145hp, 163hp, 170hp 2.3 diesel

Verdict: While the Movano doesn’t have quite the image of the Transit or Sprinter it is well worth investigating. It offers plenty of payload capacity and cargo space depending on the version selected, decent engines and an okay level of kit. Note it has the same basic design as Renault’s Master and Nissan’s NV400.