Why drive around town all day delivering stuff without a bit of comfort and style? Fiat’s Ducato and Doblò add a splash of Italian panache. Fabian Cotter reports. Heck, why not have a bit of comfort and class while going about your on-road business? And fair play to Fiat Professional for having a crack at posing and answering that little thought-provoker with its latest Ducato and new Doblò vans. Touted as mobile offices, they bolster the Fiat professional range until now spearheaded by its Scudo – making the Italian marque a ‘one-stop shop’ for Australian drivers’ delivery van needs. At the Australian media launch in Melbourne recently, there was no melodramatic Russel Crowe-type voice-over announcing “Gladiators! Are you ready?” given that a gladiator helmet design inspired the latest Ducato front-end design, which must be said looks quite commanding and authoritative. Add in a three-piece front bumper for faster collision-repair and you’ll theoretically be back on the road quicker, keeping your business ‘in business’. The latest Ducato features car-like design and – given customer demand – comes here as the “the most powerful front-wheel-drive van in the segment: Ducato’s 3.0-litre turbodiesel generates 130kW@3500rpm and 400Nm@1400rpm”. Claimed fuel figures of 7.7L/100km make the heavy-duty MultiJet diesel suitably efficient. Further cost savings come from impressive 48,000km service intervals. Gross weight configurations vary from 3510kg to 4005kg and it comes in three wheelbases, four lengths, two heights and payload ranges from 1560kg to 2110kg. A six-speed manual, or six-speed Comfort-Matic transmission? Take your pick (the latter, though, is standard on ‘Long’ and ‘Extra Long’ wheelbases). It felt good on the road with confidently firm suspension which is thankfully not ‘wallowy’. The dash-mounted gearshift took a bit of getting used to, but was soon second nature. The interior has stylish Italian flair, though how the glossy centre console plastics hold up over time will be interesting. Overall, a good bit of kit with prices starting from $38,000 (MRRP). At the other end of the scale, the smaller Doblò is crazy-cool. It’s a cheeky little number with dual sliding doors and ample space at the back for most courier jobs. Sitting on an all-new platform, it’s said to feature class-leading capacity and new suspension for a smooth ride. The car-like Doblò has four engine options: 1.6-litre diesels (66kW@4000rpm and 200Nm@1500rpm or 77kW@4000rpm and 290Nm@1500rpm), a 2-litre diesel (99kW@3500rpm and 320Nm@1500rpm), and a 1.4-litre petrol (70kW@4000rpm and 127Nm@4500rpm). Fuel use can be as low as 4.9L/100km depending on the set-up chosen and it comes in two wheelbases: 4390mm (SWB) and 4740mm (Maxi). It’s endearingly funky and should give the market something ‘a little different’. The interior is well laid out and the steering wheel thumb-rest placement and contours make its feel great to use. You’ll love using it over long hours. As with the Ducato, Bluetooth is standard, which anchors the idea that these Fiats should be the owners’ ‘mobile offices’ and not just delivery vehicles. Doblò prices start from just $22,000 (MSRP). Lattes, tiramisu and a decent ‘spag-bol’, unfortunately … well, that’s going to cost ya extra.
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