LOVE AND FREIGHT (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Fiat is keen for its Doblo Cargo van to realise its potential. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 34
Great engines, solid build and smarter styling all bode well for the latest Fiat Doblo Cargo. A wide range of different models means that there should be one to suit more compact van operators.
Backgroundword count: 203
These days, compact vans come in all shapes and sizes and, like its main rivals, Fiat can offer you plenty of choice, the smallest option being its Fiorino model, which can take up to 2.8m3. But versatile though that LCV may be, there's sometimes no substitute for space. The problem is, in pursuing that, you don't want to end up with an LCV so big that it's unwieldy around town and costly to run. The solution, says the Italian brand, is this van here, an improved version of the second generation Doblo Cargo. The original curiously-styled version of this vehicle offered little you couldn't get elsewhere from Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner-class vehicles, nor did it have the kind of high-roof, extended wheelbase option that would make it a realistic compact alternative to something Transit-sized. All that was put right with a second generation model we first saw in 2010, a vehicle that was 95% all new and which instantly beat most of its contemporaries in payload, load volume and running costs - in other words, all the things that really matter. Not too long ago, this model was updated, with smarter styling and the option of ultra-efficient 'Eco-Jet' engine derivatives. Sounds promising.
Driving Experienceword count: 221
Predictably from a manufacturer that pioneered the common-rail diesel technology that now dominates the engine bays of our top commercial vehicles, Fiat has given the Doblo a strong range of engines. There are Multijet common-rail diesels in 1.3, 1.6 and 2.0-litre guises while the few buyers who insist on petrol can go for a 1.4-litre 16-valve unit. The 1.3-litre Multijet II oil-burner has 95bhp and the 1.6 Multijet II unit ups the torque output to 105bhp - or 90bhp if you choose the 'Comfort-Matic' automatic version. Finally, the 2.0-litre Multijet flagship has 135bhp with a meaty 320Nm of torque, which is a serious amount of muscle for a compact van. With this revised model, the cornerstone 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engines benefit from enhanced responsiveness - more torque from lower revs - and improved efficiency of up to 12 percent. In the case of the 1.3-litre MultiJet II engine, for example, this responsiveness has increased by approximately 40 percent compared to the model it replaced, resulting in greater flexibility for more relaxed and efficient driving as well as livelier performance when circumstances demand. Most compact vans have a heavy duty torsen beam but the Doblo goes for a transverse linkage hinged from a central anchor point. It means operators can expect a little extra finesse from this Fiat over the bumps.
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