One for the road.
Fiat Doblo Maxi SX 1.6 Multijet II 16v 105 BHP
Fiat Professional have steadily been working their way into the UK van buyers conscience for some time now. With an attractive combination of practicality & low costs, the Professional range includes the Doblo Cargo, a new version of which was recently launched by Fiat & which I test drove in June.
Fiat provided me with the LWB version Maxi with an OTR price of £20,728. Fitted with Fiats latest Euro 5 engines & featuring Start/Stop, the 1.6 MultiJet 16v engine offers 105 bhp, with 290 Nm of torque at 1500 rpm, a top speed of 102 mph, with a combined fuel economy of 54.3 mpg & CO2 emissions of 137 g/km. The 60 litre fuel tank is generous as well. meaning less stopping, as I discovered on a 420 mile round trip, mostly on motorways, from Altrincham to Frimley & back, where the Doblo Cargo Maxi averaged just over 43 mpg & returned with a quarter of a tank of diesel in it. I found the engine to be a gem, particularly on the motorway, where it still had plenty to give when required. A special mention for the clutch & gear combo, which on some vans can be hard work. Not so on the Doblo where the six-speed box was excellent & the clutch light & responsive.Furthermore, when I was’t hurtling along the M40, it’s an accomplished city van as well. Easy to to manoeuvre in town, simple to park, even without rear parking sensors, which would cost an additional £185 & generally drove like a car.
Those of you who drive long distances in your van, require seats that are comfortable & easily adjusted & the Doblo ticks those boxes as well. The interior as a whole is well designed & for a load lugger, easily accessible. Storage compartments are to the fore & are located in the door, in the passenger seat cushion & above the passengers there is an overhead strorage shelf. Standard equipment included remote central locking, body coloured electrically adjusted mirrors, drivers airbag, height adjustable drivers seat & lumbar support, panelled sound-proofed bulkhead, PAS, a height adjustable steering wheel, Radio/CD/MP3 player, 12v front & rear sockets, electric windows , ESC with VDC. Extras fitted to my van included Stop/Start at £225, reverse parking sensors £185, manual air-con £595 & a Bluetooth radio/MPS/CD/USB player with steering wheel controls, all of which I would want on my vehicle. As I discovered on my journey to Frimley, there are that many 50 mph motorway speed limits at present all with speeding cameras – an easy way to get a fine in my opinion – that I think adding cruise control at just £135 would be a decent investment as well.
Not only does the new Doblo look good, with a wider grille topped by revised headlamps, a sculpted bonnet & a chunkier front bumper there’s no doubting that the Doblo is a well designed product with two sliding side doors measuring 700 mm wide x 1175m m wide, as well as the requisite rear doors which measure 1231 mm wide x 1250 mm high, access to the load area of 4.2 m cubed, is made easy. The Maxi is also longer than the standard Doblo Cargo at 2170 mm & is 1714 mm wide & 1305 mm high. The Maxi also offers a payload of 1000 kg including the driver, all of which are very impressive in a market where it competes with the Transit Connect, VW Caddy, Renault Kangoo, Mercedes Citan, Peugeot Partner, Citroen Berlingo & Vauxhall Combo.
Safety has not been ignored on the Doblo either, with a built in fire protection system, a controlled collapse body shell, passenger, options of passenger & front side airbags, a collapsible telescopic steering column with knee protection & height adjustable three point seat belts. The bulkhead fitted to my test vehicle not only made the Doblo quieter than many vans I have driven & allowed me to listen happily to my favourite podcasts- voices are notoriously hard to hear on podcast unless the cabin is well soundproofed- but also provides excellent protection from any moving load in the rear of the van, an important safety issue & of course enables the driver to warm up the cabin quickly during the Winter months
Fiat Professional also offer it’s customers a 3 year Fiat care warranty package across all of it’s vehicles. This includes a 2 year unlimited mileage manufacturers warranty, a 3 year dealer warranty, a 3 year paint work warranty, an 8 year anti perforation warranty & a 12 month parts & repair guarantee. Fiat Contract Hire will also tailor a package to meet your businesses needs.
Build quality is excellent, with all of the switchgear & internal plastics Fixtures & fittings looking & feeling built to last. The dash board is simply laid out & I found it straightforward to connect my iPhone before my journey, make & receive calls handsfree whilst on it & hear what my callers were saying without having to shout back at them. The radio/AUX in worked well- the addition of a DAB radio would have made me even happier- allowing me to play music & podcasts both from my iPhone & my iPod using the USB connector.
As far as negatives go, these are led by market forces, with Fiat still having some work to do before the van’s residual values stack up to its rivals. This though is the only one I can think of, because the Fiat Professional range better made & more reliable than some people give them credit for & in the Doblo’s case, is certainly worth more than a look. It’s well priced, fuel efficient, extremely practical, as well as offering car-like handling. It’s also available in a number of guises, the range options are listed below, meaning that there’s a version for you waiting at your local Fiat Professional dealership.
A Paulo Rossi 4.5/5
Fiat Doblo Cargo: van dimensions
Body style Height Width Length
Short low-roof van 1,845mm 1,832mm 4,390mm
Long high-roof van 2,100mm 1,832mm 4,390mm
Long low-roof van 1,880mm 1,832mm 4,740mm
XL long high-roof van 2,125mm 1,832mm 4,740mm
Short low-roof Combi 1,845mm 1,832mm 4,390mm
Long low-roof Combi 1,880mm 1,832mm 4,740mm
XL long high-roof Combi 2,125mm 1,832mm 4,740mm
Work-Up pick-up 2,049mm 1,872mm 4,965mm
Load area dimensions
Body style Height Width Length Volume
Short low-roof van 1,305mm 1,714mm 1,820mm 3.4m3
Long high-roof van 1,550mm 1,714mm 1,820mm 4.0m3
Long low-roof van 1,305mm 1,714mm 2,170mm 4.2m3
XL long high-roof van 1,550mm 1,714mm 2,170mm 5.0m3
Short low-roof Combi 1,250mm 1,261mm 950mm 0.79m3
Long low-roof Combi 1,250mm 1,261mm 1,300mm 1.05m3
XL long high-roof Combi 1,950mm 1,261mm 1,300mm 1.1m3
Work-Up pick-up 1,368mm 1,818mm 2,300mm 1.54m3
• Power: 90bhp – 135bhp
• Weight (GVW): 1,990kgkg – 2,505kg
• Payload: 750kg – 1,000kg
• Loading height (approx, unladen):545mm – 890mm