The newest incarnation arrives in UK showrooms in September, and What Van? got an early chance to drive the Ducato in left-hand drive.
From launch Fiat will offer the new Ducato with a pair of 2.3-litre Multijet 11 direct-injection turbodiesel engines developing 130hp and 150hp respectively. Also available will be the flagship 3.0-litre 180hp powertrain.
A 110hp version of the 2.3-litre engine has been developed exclusively for the UK (which does not get the 2.0-litre unit offered in continental Europe) and will arrive in the fourth quarter of this year.
The 2.3-litre 130hp Ducato we drove is likely to be the best seller in the UK, according to Fiat. The manufacturer claims that with fuel consumption of 39.7mpg and CO2 of 186g/km the engine is 9% more economical than the Euro4 2.3-litre version, but with 8% more power.
Unless exceptional power and torque is required, the engine provides more than adequate muscle with a load on board. The sit-up-and-beg driving position is supportive and offers a good view of the road and its surroundings. The ride is quiet and smooth and enhanced by the slickness of the six-speed manual transmission, but it is debatable whether the extra gear offers much that a five-speed box could not have provided just as well. The gear stick is mounted in a user-friendly position on the dash.
The van has a sure-footedness when negotiating winding roads replete with steep climbs and sharp descents, but we did not get a chance to test the new traction control system, Traction+, which is designed to provide added grip to whichever front wheel comes into contact with a loose-surfaced terrain. Coupled with ESP, the system is an option on the Ducato range.
The Ducato is available in three trim levels: Standard, Wood and Techno. We sampled the Techno option, which features a lot of hard, bobbly black plastic but is definitely preferable to the tacky mock-walnut affect adorning the Wood trim cabin. Apparently, this is likely to particularly appeal to the Ducato’s legions of motorhome customers.
The central console has been redesigned and now features a fully integrated sound system. A welcome result of the revamp is the space generated for the TomTom ‘my-port’. Our van included the new Blue&Me-TomTom Live navigation system and the Eco:Drive Professional telematics system.
The cabin has a reasonable amount of storage space including useful overhead compartments, a lockable central compartment big enough for a laptop and a cooler box that can accommodate a 1.5-litre bottle. However, the provision of just a single cup holder seems a bit mean.
We also got the chance to drive the 3.0-litre 180hp Ducato. The power (177hp at 3500rpm) and torque (400Nm at 1400rpm) available is impressive and the engine is quiet.
The new engine is impressive, providing ample power and better fuel consumption than its predecessor. A step up.