When it comes to loading items, Steve Banner is grateful that his long-termer Doblo Cargo comes with not only a conveniently low loading height, but also sliding doors
If there is a hell then a particularly hot section of it should be roped off and reserved for fly tippers – people who dump rubbish in the countryside because they cannot be bothered to dispose of it legally and safely and are happy to leave others to clear up the mess.
In my case, it was old bags of solidified cement, lumps of concrete and associated detritus – including a broken plastic bucket – that had to be uplifted and got rid of responsibly. So into Doblo Cargo Maxi's 4.2m3 cargo area it all went.
Three thoughts sprang to mind while I was heaving all this, mostly heavy, stuff on board: gratitude for the Doblo Cargo's low loading height, due to its front-wheel drive; gratitude for the presence of a sliding door on the nearside of the cargo area (there is one on the offside too) that made loading easier; and gratitude for the van's ability to handle plenty of weight. Not that I had to use its maximum 1005kg gross payload capacity, but I certainly ate a good way into it.
Gratitude should also be expressed for the Doblo Cargo's hefty full-height bulkhead and tough, plastic load bed cover. Without it, what I was carrying would have left a painted metal cargo floor covered with scratches and scrapes. It’s just as well there are some protective panels on the doors and the lower part of the van's sides; however, there is no protection for the, admittedly, slim wheel boxes – neither have been dented yet, but there is always a first time.
When you have to shift messy rubbish you have to clean your van out afterwards. The Doblo Cargo presents no real problems in this respect, apart from the fact that the load tie-down rings are floor-mounted. As a consequence, any dirt and grit tends to get stuck underneath them; leave enough in place and it all solidifies and renders the rings useless until you clean it out. It's a sound argument for locating lashing points off the floor and along the vehicle's sides where they should remain reasonably clean.
My vehicle is fitted with a long list of options and I've now had sufficient time to determine which are the most – and least – important.
Top of the list by a country mile are the reverse parking sensors. They are worth every penny. An opaque bulkhead and unglazed rear doors mean that whenever you reverse, you do so completely blind. However, the sensors and the intensity of the beeps associated with them mean you have a good idea of how close you are getting to something – or someone – that you might end up damaging. Or in the case of a brick wall, might end up damaging you.
Also worthy of applause is stop-start, which I would particularly recommend if you spend most of your time in urban traffic jams. It cuts fuel consumption, which means operating costs are lower, and shrinks your CO2 footprint too.
Cruise control gets the thumbs-up for similar reasons, plus it helps to preserve your driving licence.
Meanwhile, I would happily forget the alloys and the metallic paint given the extent to which light commercials can get scratched and scuffed in service. Maybe I'm more in tune with the ‘age of austerity’ than I thought.
|Fiat Professional Doblo Cargo Maxi 1.6 Multijet 105hp SX|
|Claimed combined consumption 60.1mpg|
|Our average consumption||52.0mpg|
|Price (ex VAT)||£16,395|
|Price as tested (ex VAT) £19,760|