Fiat’s Professional Doblo Cargo has scooped WhatVan?’s Light Van of the Year Award for the third consecutive time.

With a wide range of engines and capacities, the Turkish-built load-lugger is a serious contender in the small van segment, with its enduring appeal, quality, and practicality in demanding working environments.

It received a makeover last year and first appeared in its current form back in 2015.
As part of that refresh, Fiat added more wheelbase and roof options to create a larger family of light commercial vehicles, and even included a chassis cab as basis for a dropside – unusual at this size.

In panel van format there are a total of four versions. The Standard Van offers a load compartment length of 1,820mm with widths of 1,518-1,714mm and a height 1,305mm. This creates a load volume 3.4m³, while payload varies from 750kg to 1,005kg.

The Maxi Van boasts a load length of 2,170mm, widths from 1,518mm to 1,714mm, and a height 1,305mm, giving a volume of up to 4.2m³ and a generous 1,005kg payload capacity.

Then comes the High Roof Van. It has the same dimensions in plan view as the Standard Van but with an increase in internal height to 1,550mm. This boosts the load volume to 4.0m³, almost matching the longer Maxi Van’s figure, but in a more wieldy vehicle – important for city-based multi-drop work. The maximum payload is also 1,005kg.

Finally, there is the XL Van, which is as big as some medium vans. This combines the High Roof and Maxi Van versions’ best features of 1,550mm height, a load length of 2,170mm and a width of 1,714mm to create a total volume 5.0m³. The payload is not reduced either, with the Doblo Cargo’s best of 1,005kg being retained.

There are four engine options, three of which are diesels: a 1.3-litre with 95hp and 200Nm of torque and two 1.6-litre units with 105hp and 300Nm of torque, or 120hp and 320Nm of torque. The 1.4 petrol unit offers 95hp and 127Nm of torque.

Safety features include a raft of onboard electronic devices, such as ABS, electronic stability control and electronic brakeforce distribution, for example, some of which are mandatory.

Connectivity is aided by the availability of Gateway, an interface that can be used to collect all the vehicle’s key onboard data, which can then be relayed to a fleet management system.

What Van? ran a long-term test Doblo Cargo for several months, over many thousands of miles and with a variety of different loads onboard. Throughout it all it proved completely reliable and the preeminent contender in its class. 

Doblo Cargo customers also benefit from a dealer network that offers a greater degree of out-of-hours servicing than most of its competitors.

Fiat has expanded its line-up of LCVs in the past few years but the Doblo Cargo is still the key model – and we wouldn’t be surprised if it remained that way for some time to come.

Highly Commended: Volkswagen Caddy

The Volkswagen Caddy has achieved the status of Highly Commended in the What Van? Awards. The 2018 version of the van is more complete than it’s ever been, with a great blend of comfort and practicality.

The Caddy boasts phenomenal build quality, a praiseworthy approach to safety, impressive on-the-road performance, and one of the best light commercial transmissions available in the shape of the optional automated six- or seven-speed Direct Shift Gearbox.

The Caddy offers exemplary safety kit and includes the standard addition of autonomous emergency braking and driver alert across the range.

To encourage take-up of petrol models VW has commendably reduced prices, with the base Startline 1.2 TSI 84hp now costing £13,745 (all prices exclude VAT) – a saving of about £1,000 compared with the previous price.

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