The What Van? Road Test: Iveco Daily

Date: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fed up with strict legislation governing driving hours and the use of digital tachographs, it would not be surprising if a growing number of businesses operating 7.5-tonners decided to look at running 3.5-tonners instead.

While the latter cannot carry as much as the former, they are not subject to such onerous rules and regulations and can be driven by anybody with a car driver’s licence. Nor will anybody asked to climb behind the wheel of a 3.5-tonner be required to hold the new Certificate of Professional Competence that is becoming mandatory – over and above their driving licence – for people driving heavier vehicles.
Firms looking to go down the weight scale may well make Iveco’s rear-wheel drive Daily one of their first ports of call. Available through the same dealer network that
sells and services the Italian manufacturer’s ubiquitous Eurocargo 7.5-tonner, it received a major makeover in 2009.
While the bulk of Dailys sold in Britain are 3.5-tonners, the full range stretches from 3.2 to 7.0 tonnes, with payload capacities running from just over a tonne to north of 4.0 tonnes, and embraces chassis cabs and crew-cabs as well as vans and people-shifters. The recent modifications include the introduction of a 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel at either 140hp or 170hp that meets the Enhanced Environmentally Friendly Vehicle (EEV) standard, which means it more than complies with Euro5. EEV models are marketed under the EcoDaily banner.
In addition, 106hp and 126hp versions of the existing Euro4 2.3-litre diesel already available at 96hp, 116hp and 136hp have been added to the line-up. Euro4 146hp and 176hp 3.0-litre diesels continue to be available too.
On top of all that you can specify an EEV-compliant 136hp 3.0-litre capable of running on environmentally friendly landfill gas. Iveco has also developed an all-electric Daily.
Faced with all this choice we opted for a 126hp 35S13 3.5-tonne 3300mm-wheelbase van equipped with an Agile six-speed semi-automatic gearbox rather than the standard manual box. It’s just the sort of model that might appeal to somebody on the kind of home delivery work that involves fairly lengthy dual-carriageway runs to get from one sprawling housing estate to the next.

Cab

There is no shortage of stowage space for oddments in the Daily’s easy-to-access, roomy three-seater cab with its re-styled fascia. Each door boasts three bins and the biggest of the trio features a moulding that can accommodate a flask or a big bottle of water.
They are supplemented by assorted shelves, a smallish glove box that unfortunately cannot be locked, another lidded bin in the centre of the dashboard towards the bottom with a paperwork clip above it, and a large lidded bin beneath the passenger seats. The bin is an £80 optional extra (all prices exclude VAT). There’s a pop-out cup holder at each extremity of the fascia too.
We had no complaints about head, leg or shoulder room. The driver’s seat is height-adjustable and gives the occupant a commanding view ahead and to either side. Vision rearwards is good too, thanks to big exterior mirrors with a useful lower wide-angle section. Electric adjustment and the ability to heat them in cold weather costs a further £140.

Load area

Entry to the 12.0cu/m cargo bay
is by means of a sliding nearside door plus twin opaque rear doors that can be swung through a full 270º with a stop at 90º, it’s just
a pity that there is no magnetic catch to allow them to be latched against the van’s sides when they are fully open.
The high, wide, side and rear door apertures each feature a step and a grab handle to ease access.
Inside the load area there are eight floor-mounted lashing points plus two on the offside sidewall and two on the nearside. A shelf above the cab that is accessible solely from the rear of the vehicle looks like a handy place to stow lashing straps.
Our demonstrator featured an anti-slip phenolic-coated tailored timber cover for the cargo bed for an extra £360. The full-height windowless steel bulkhead is a standard feature.

Powertrain

Opt for the 126hp 16-valve common-rail four-cylinder 2.3-litre diesel and you’ll find that top power makes its presence felt across a 3050rpm to 3600rpm plateau. Maximum torque of 290Nm is generated over a spread of from 1650rpm to 3050rpm.
The Agile box is easy to use. Tap the lever one way and you are in automatic mode, and tap it the other way for manual. There’s a dashboard display telling you which mode and gear you are in.
Depress the brake pedal before firing up the engine. Fail to do so and it will refuse to come to life; it’s a precaution to ensure that you do not accidentally start the vehicle while it is in gear.

Chassis and steering

An independent suspension with a transverse leaf spring is installed at the front while single-leaf parabolic springs and an anti-roll bar help support the rear. Air suspension is on offer as an option.
Our demonstrator’s 16-inch steel wheels were shod with Pirelli Chrono 225/65 R16C tyres.
Hydraulic power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering comes as standard offering a kerb-to-kerb turning circle of 11.2m and a wall-to-wall turning circle of 12.4m.


Performance

Even with a 750kg load in the back the 2.3-litre copes well, delivering its power smoothly and without fuss all the way up the rev range. It’s a little rackety at idle but the decibels soon die off once you’re under way.
Slot the Agile box into auto mode and you rapidly discover that it does not like to be rushed. Aggressive acceleration is rewarded by jerky and sometimes noisy gear changes, which at least have the virtue of forcing you to back off a little and drive more smoothly. Switch to manual and you will find this jerkiness instantly disappears.
Going up and down the ’box is a doddle. Moving the gear stick is just like flicking a switch as you slip effortlessly from one gear to the next, and it allows you to better appreciate just how flexible and forgiving the 2.3-litre is. Moving to manual is pretty much essential for descending a steep hill.
In auto mode, Agile has a tendency to change up exactly when you do not want it to, and you can feel the van start to run away with you. Go to manual and it will stay in the required gear for as long as is necessary.
The Iveco Daily seems to cope well with the many imperfections found on Britain’s road surfaces.
It rides comfortably, with none of the bouncing and pitching that can affect some light commercial vehicles.
For a big van its handling is little short of excellent, with the responsive steering providing the driver with ample feedback. It is surprisingly manoeuvrable too, but don’t forget when parking that it has a big rear overhang.

Equipment

Electric windows are included in the price as is a driver’s airbag, onboard computer, RDS stereo radio/CD player, 12V power point and aux-in socket. A Bluetooth set-up under the Blue&Me banner with steering wheel controls was installed in our vehicle for an additional £310.
We like the heating and ventilation system’s chunky, easy-to-understand controls.
They are to be preferred to the confusing switches and dials seen in certain rival vehicles. But it’s a shame that no spare wheel
is provided.
While its absence helps to boost payload because of a bit of a reduction in weight, it means that you will have to resort to the inflator/sealer that is provided instead or summon roadside assistance should you get a flat tyre. Having a proper spare to hand is a better bet.

Buying and running

 

A three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty is included in the deal. Service intervals are set at 25,000 miles and the Daily has the advantage of being supported by the Iveco heavy truck network, with 95 service points nationwide. The total increases to well over 2000 in mainland Europe.
Fuel consumption? We averaged 32.0mpg running half-laden over a mixture of dual carriageways and A and B roads with a bit of city-centre work thrown in.

 

Safety

Electronic Stability Programme is a key part of a comprehensive safety package that also includes ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Traction Control, Hydraulic Brake Assist and Motor Torque Reduction. Disc brakes are fitted all round and the front ones are ventilated.
Remote central locking allows you to lock and unlock the cab and the load area separately.
Top marks to Iveco for fitting a rear-view camera (£410) given the opaque back doors. It comes on when reverse is engaged and gives a clear view of what is directly behind courtesy of a display above the windscreen. It should result in fewer accidents and a lot less damage. We’d like to see such cameras more widely installed.
Substantial side rubbing strips protect the van’s sides from scratches and scrapes, and the protection is sensibly extended to the wheel-arches. Front fog-lights are standard.

 

VERDICT: Iveco Daily 35S13 Agile

Today’s Daily is a vast improvement on what Iveco had to offer a few years ago.
 

 



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