Fiat Professional’s facelifted version of its Fiorino compact city van may be feeling a little lonely.
PSA, with its two products – Citroen’s Nemo and Peugeot’s Bipper, which have piggybacked the Italian van’s platform since 2008 – has decided not to take on the Fiorino’s 2016 styling revisions and in fact looks set to pull out of the sector altogether in a couple of years’ time.
Citroen and Peugeot, did, however, say they would take the Fiorino’s Euro6 engines, comprising a 77hp 1.4-litre petrol unit and a pair of 1.3 turbodiesels with outputs of 80hp and 95hp. The impending withdrawal of the French brands, who have admitted their models are not financially viable, will leave the Fiorino attempting to hold its own against Ford’s Transit Courier, which has dominated the compact cube van sector since its launch in 2014.
But Fiat Professional claims the Fiorino helps to give it one of the most comprehensive LCV line-ups on the market – especially since it introduced the Fullback pick-up and a stronger medium van contender in the Talento in June.
The Ecojet versions of the Fiorino’s diesel engines, which employ fuel-saving technologies such as stop/start, a smart alternator, and a variable displacement oil pump, are appearing for the first time on the Euro6 Fiorino.
Paired with a Comfort-Matic robotised transmission, the 80hp Ecojet achieves a claimed 74.3mpg on the combined cycle with emissions of 100g/km of CO2, a fuel saving of up to 14% compared with the manual transmission without Ecojet.
The refreshed Fiorino features a new front bumper that the brand says fits in with its latest design language.
New 15-inch wheel covers complete the external revisions.
Inside, a redesigned steering wheel gets remote stereo controls and leather finishing on the top two trim levels. The instruments cluster gets new graphics with permanent backlighting for better visibility, and a new storage compartment has been added to the dashboard. A new, five-inch, colour touchscreen infotainment system is also offered for the first time, with Bluetooth, USB/aux port, satellite navigation and DAB radio standard fits on the two higher specifications.
The Fiorino Cargo is available in four trim levels in all: Standard, Ecojet, SX and Adventure, the enhanced traction derivative.
Prices, all excluding VAT, step up £400 from base level to Ecojet, another £150 to SX, and then a further £650 to Adventure.
We tested the 95hp 1.3 SX, which costs £13,015, marginally more than the 1.6 TDCi 95 Transit Courier Trend’s £12,645 price tag. Our van came with the Ecopack, including stop/start, as a £200 option, which comes standard on Ecojet versions.
The little load-lugger is at its best when engaged on urban assignments where its diminutive dimensions and tight turning circle boost its manoeuvrability and mean it can access areas larger vans cannot reach.
But for such a small van its loading capacities are impressive, with a payload of 660kg and cargo volume of 2.8m3 .
The load bay is reached via twin doors that open to 180°. The doors feature large, vertical handles that can be activated from either side to ease entry, particularly when arms are full of goods. The SX (and the Adventure) also get a nearside sliding door.
The Fiorino is nimble and agile while weaving in and out of city traffic but feels less at home when you venture out of town, where a lack of seat comfort can become an issue and noise levels get intrusive – although, after all, the model is not meant for long intercity treks. The 95hp engine is nippy and combines well with sharp steering and a slick five-speed manual gearbox to deliver a decent and fun drive.
The cabin is functional, not a little stylish, and all the controls are within easy reach and satisfyingly simple to comprehend. Storage is adequate, including a new compartment in the dashboard. A ladder bulkhead protects occupants from the contents of the cargo box; getting a window put into it costs £80 as an option.
The SX is reasonably well specified, although if you want air-conditioning, which most customers do, you’ll have to fork out an extra £500 for it, but at least it gets electric windows and mirrors, which are a £120 option on Standard and Ecojet models.
The debatable allure of 15-inch alloys costs an extra £400, and metallic paint, which, like aircon, could increase residual value, adds £300 to the asking price.
|Fiat Professional Fiorino Cargo 1.3 95hp SX|
|Price (ex VAT) £ 13,015|
|Price range (ex VAT) £11,315-£14,545|
|Insurance group tbc|
|Service intervals 20,000mls|
|Load length 1523mm|
|Load width min/max 1046mm/1473mm|
|Gross payload 660kg|
|Load Volume 6.0m3|
|Engine size/power 1248cc/95hp|
|On sale June 2016|
|Combined fuel economy 72.4mpg|
The facelifted Fiorino Cargo operates in an increasingly niche sector but is a likeable little load lugger that can serve urban operators well.