Long Term Test: Fiat Professional Doblo Cargo

Date: Monday, October 31, 2016   |   Author: Steve Banner

Don’t mess with the Doblo Cargo’s bulkhead because it’s full-height and made from
solid steel, advises Steve Banner

Many years ago I had to perform an emergency stop in a Lada Niva 4x4 van. Contrary to my expectations it screeched to a halt remarkably quickly. But while the vehicle stopped, the jack that was sitting unsecured on the cargo floor didn’t.

Instead, it shot through the air and bounced off the windscreen on the passenger side before coming to rest in the foot well. Anybody who had been sitting in the passenger seat would not have lived to tell the tale.
The point is that this magnificent monument to Soviet-era automotive engineering was not fitted with a bulkhead.

Our Doblo Cargo is however, and it is a hefty one. Full-height, opaque, and made from solid steel, it looks capable of stopping a flying jack – or any other bits of wayward cargo – in its tracks.

That is not its only advantage: it deadens any road noise that may be emanating from the rear of the vehicle and means that anybody who breaks into the cab cannot get at the van’s load.

And in summer it means that the optional climate control system works more efficiently because it only air-conditions the cab (which is what you want) and not the entire body (which is what you don’t want). In winter the heater works in the same way and brings the same benefits.

Admittedly, there are load tie-down points in the load area and they look stout enough to secure misbehaving cargo, but how many van drivers actually use them? Lashing and unlashing loads takes time, there is always the question of what sort of tie you should use – few light commercial drivers are equipped with proper lashing straps – so the default position is to drop whatever you are carrying onto the floor and let the bulkhead take the strain if items go flying forwards.

The one fitted to the Doblo Cargo probably will in the majority of cases. If the load bounces off it, however, and starts heading towards the back doors then one wonders how capable they would be of withstanding the impact. I suspect not very – which means that a very surprised motorist following behind would probably end up with whatever you happened to be carrying thumping down onto the bonnet of his car.

Mileage 6329
Official fuel consumption 60.1mpg
Our average consumption 52.0mpg
Price (ex VAT) £16,395
Price as tested (ex VAT) £19,760
 


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