Fiat Ducato 2007 Review
August 14, 2007
Fiat's general manager, Chris Swann, is a firm believer in payload when it comes to a commercial vehicle that has to pay its way carrying cargo.
While some van makers focus on the volume of cargo a van will hold, Swann reckons it's possible to have both cargo volume and payload.
That thinking was front and centre when he was deciding on which Ducato models he would sign up for the Australian market.
The Ducato range Swann settled on is topped by the extra long wheelbase medium roof van.
With a GVM of four tonnes, the big front-wheel drive Fiat will swallow 15 cubic metres of freight weighing up to two tonnes.
Others in its class can accommodate a little more volume, but come up well short of the Fiat's payload.
Its sleek lines are protected by broad rub strips down each side, and large bumpers protect the front and rear from bumps and scrapes.
Access to the cargo zone, which is separated from the cabin by a fixed partition, is through a wide, easy-sliding door on the left side or barn doors at the rear that can be swung back flat against the van's sides.
Inside, there is lighting and heaps of tie-down hooks in the floor and along the walls to secure the load.
Up front, the driver has all the comfort and convenience features now expected in a working vehicle.
Standard air-conditioning, CD sound, power windows and mirrors, a reach-adjustable steering column, and comfortable cloth-trimmed seating make it easy to get through the day.
There's also a plethora of storage possibilities, including an overhead shelf, a large lockable glove box in the centre of the dash, and the centre seat folds down to form a work table.
While it's packed with everything needed in a working day, the Ducato's interior is a little cramped.
The leg room is limited, the gearshift rubs against the left leg and the overhead shelf is a little too close for comfort. On the road, there is little noise from the engine, road or the wind racing past to disturb the inner peace.
Our test van was powered by the 3l, four-cylinder turbo diesel that put out 115 kW at 3500 rpm and 400 Nm between 1700 and 2500 rpm. There isn't the option of an automatic or automated transmission so the test Ducato had the standard six-speed manual gearbox.
The gearing is well matched to the engine and the dash-mounted shift is slick and precise.
On the road, the Ducato hauled away from traffic lights, easily kept pace with the traffic flow, and the big four was turning over at 1800 rpm when cruising down the highway at 100 km/h. For the duration of the test, the Ducato returned the remarkable fuel economy of 10l/100km.
The ride is comfortable, bumps are absorbed with ease, four-wheel discs and ABS stop the four-tonne van easily, and the power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering provides a good feel of the road and a tight turning circle.
In addition to the standard ABS, the big Ducato features traction control, and there's an option of electronic stability control.
The driver also has the protection of an airbag in the event of a crash.
Major services are every 45,000km with oil drops scheduled every 22,500km.
The test Ducato is priced at $49,990 and comes with a three-year, 200,000km warranty and three-year roadside assistance.