Long Term Test: Fiat Professional Doblo Cargo

Date: Tuesday, July 05, 2016   |   Author: Steve Banner

Van operators are likely to make use of cargo space more frequently than payload capacity. Steve Banner is impressed by how much the Doblo Cargo can swallow

It's surprising how much you can stuff into the Doblo Cargo Maxi's 4.2m3 cargo area when you put your mind to it. I recently filled it with several big cartons full of assorted bits and pieces, two huge sacks of rubbish, a selection of old wooden planks, a box of tools and a tired-looking office chair that had long outlived its usefulness – and there was still room for more.

It underlines the point that what matters so far as most vans are concerned is load space rather than payload capacity because the majority of operators make more use of the former than they do the latter.

Not that the Cargo Maxi is incapable of coping with weight as various runs to and from builders merchants laden with bagged sand and gravel have shown. It can tackle hefty payloads seemingly without breaking sweat and its rear suspension is more than up to the task. That is despite the fact that it is a bi-link independent set-up. Light and compact, it is a little unusual for a light commercial vehicle, yet so far as I am aware there is no indication that it has proved less durable than more conventional suspension systems. It certainly delivers a better ride.

It’s just as well, too, that my Cargo Maxi is equipped with a stout, full-height bulkhead, as I wouldn't care to have all that cargo join me in the cab.

I remain lost in wonder at the quality of the Fiat’s handling. Navigating a succession of mini roundabouts in a city centre can scarcely be counted as fun; however, the van's ability to negotiate ever-tighter turns precisely without wishing to lurch off in a different direction while continually providing the driver with direct feedback though the steering made me want to go off and do it all over again.

One of the Cargo Maxi's big plus-points is that although it has a capacious load bay, you can nonetheless drive it into most multi-storey car parks without having to worry about walloping the overhead barrier. That is an important consideration for anybody who needs to venture into urban areas, bearing in mind that on-street parking is often at a premium.

One change I would like to see made to the vehicle is for the central locking system to lock and unlock the fuel flap as well as all the doors. Unfortunately, it does not, and the fuel filler point is instead protected by a lockable cap secured by the ignition key. I loathe lockable fuel caps. I can seldom, if ever, manage to lock them properly, get my fingers covered with diesel while I juggle with them, and would probably hurl them across the forecourt were it not for the fact that they are invariably secured to the vehicle by a length of cord.

Nor am I wild about alloy wheels on a van. The Cargo Maxi has them, and they look great, but light commercial vehicles are working tools that often have to deliver here, there and everywhere, and there is always the risk that those alloys will end up getting scraped down a kerb. Net result? An extra-cost option priced at almost £400 ends up looking like so much scrap. It would be far better to specify steel wheels and fancy plastic trims if at all possible because plastic is far cheaper to replace.

 

Fiat Professional Doblo Cargo Maxi 1.6 Multijet 105hp SX
 
Mileage         3471
Claimed combined consumption 60.1mpg
Our average consumption   52.0mpg
Price (ex VAT)       £16,395
Price as tested (ex VAT) £19,760
 
 
 


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