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Fiat Ducato
Leading light: Fiat are set to unleash a brand new updated range

There are some big rumblings going on in the Fiat Professional camp at the moment as a whole set of new vans are about to erupt onto the scene.

The Scudo medium van is being replaced with a reworked Renault Trafic, there will be a new pick-up truck based on the Mitsubishi L200 and the Doblo Cargo and Fiorino are getting a wash and brush up.

What with the Ducato’s recent facelift, Fiat is replacing and upgrading its entire range in the space of two years.

The Ducato comes off the same production line as the Citroen Relay and Peugeot Boxer at Sevel in Italy but the Ducato gets its own engines, which are a tad more frugal than those of its twin brothers, making it cheaper to run over the course of its life.

There’s a fresh front end for starters which really gives this van a snazzy look and the cab has been upgraded with a new dash

So what exactly is new in Ducatoland?

There’s a fresh front end for starters which really gives this van a snazzy look and the cab has been upgraded with a new dash and – wait for it – coffee cup holders for the first time. Wooo!

The rear end is as-is – nothing wrong with that, we say – and under the metal a few tweaks sharpen up the Ducato’s capabilities and promise to raise body rigidity, improve durability and lower noise levels.

Meanwhile some of the high stress areas such as sliding side doors have been beefed up to improve their longevity.

Our test van was the short wheelbase model with eight cubic feet of loadspace on offer and a payload of 1,640kg. The 2.3-litre diesel range has 110bhp, 130bhp and 150bhp outputs on offer. Ours was the mid-ranger.

TECH SPEC

Gross vehicle weight (kg): 3,500

Power (bhp/rpm): 130/3,600

Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 236/1,800

Load volume (cu m): 8.0

Payload (kg): 1,640

Load length (mm): 2,670

Load width (mm): 1,870

Load height (mm): 1,662

Comb fuel economy (mpg): 44.1

CO2 emission (g/km): 164

Price as tested (ex-VAT): £35,613

WHAT’S HOT

  • Let start with the cab. The Ducato is much quieter and smoother under way than its predecessor and we give the driver’s seat 10 out of 10. It’s really comfortable with loads of side, back and lumbar support. I undertook a six-hour journey during our test week and emerged fresh as a spring lamb at the end (well, fresh as a 62-year-old lamb anyway!)
  • Coffee is one of my big joys in life so the arrival of not one but three coffee cup holders was very welcome. We had always moaned like crazy about there not being any in the old Ducato.
  • In addition to a superb seat, there’s a little pull-down desk in the back of the middle seat and a pop-up clip for A4 documents on top of the dash. Together with a USB port (and the aforementioned coffee cup holders), the Ducato makes a natty little office on wheels if you have the need for one.
  • What a sweet engine the MultiJet is. It’s quiet and refined under way and offers so much torque that it will pull away happily in second gear and tootles along nicely in sixth at 30mph.
  • If the official figures are to be believed, the 130bhp variant will return just over 44mpg on the combined cycle. Our test model, rather unusually, had a half-load of sand on board when it arrived and although the Ducato loped along nicely with no skittishness, the sand played havoc with our own fuel test figures (official figures, of course, are calibrated with the van empty). At the end of the week we still managed just under 40mpg, which ain’t bad in anyone’s books for a van of this size.
Fiat Ducato interior
The new Ducato dash will receive some well earned attention

 

Fiat Ducato
Be prepared to keep a cool head when you see the climate control add-on prices

WHAT’S NOT

  • Our van had climate control, which worked very well but turned out to be an eye-watering £990! Even manual air conditioning adds a monstrous £870. Come on, Fiat, you get it for free in Enterprise versions of the Citroen Relay.
  • Talking of extras, our test van also had a lane departure warning system that makes a tooth-grinding electronic buzz if it feels you are drifting out of your lane. Unfortunately it can’t tell whether you’ve nodded off or whether you actually want to change lanes to overtake someone. After 10 minutes of torture on the M25 listening to that terrible din as I chopped and changed lanes, I discovered you could turn it off on the dash and the cab once again became a little haven of peace and tranquillity. Unless you want to treat your drivers to something akin to the Chinese water torture, we’d recommend avoiding this little extra at all costs.

 

Verdict

Stylish looks, smooth refined and frugal engines and a lovely comfortable cab. That, for us, keeps the Ducato in the running against some hot new competition.


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