The What Van? Road Test: Iveco Daily

Date: Monday, October 08, 2012

A 205hp diesel in a 3.5-tonner? C’mon, that’s got to be crazy. Surely it will guzzle fuel like there’s no tomorrow? Surely the lad who drives it will just be an accident waiting to happen?
Well, yes and no.

  Yes, you’ll end up with a huge diesel bill and more dents than you can shake a stick at if you hand the keys to a teenager who has barely passed his driving test and thinks he is Sebastian Vettel. But no, you don’t have to end up with a shed-load of grief if you hand the keys to an older and more experienced individual who you’ve taken the time to put through a training programme such as the Safe and Fuel-Efficient Driving (SAFED) course and whose activities are monitored by an onboard electronic device that flashes red every time he or she, say, accelerates way too harshly.
Such devices are available and the data on the driver’s on-the-road behaviour that they record can be downloaded subsequently and discussed with the employee concerned. Put these safeguards in place and you can start to benefit from the advantages such a powerful engine brings.
The amount of torque the engine has on tap enables the van to scoot up steep hills, leaving other, less-powerful, 3.5-tonners floundering in its wake. Overtaking becomes a lot easier and much safer and you can quickly regain your chosen motorway cruising speed when held up temporarily by slower traffic.
Winner of What Van?’s Large Panel Van of the Year award for 2012, a revised and restyled Daily brought up to Euro5/ Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle (EEV) standard debuted last year. The line-up encompasses chassis cabs, chassis double cabs, crew vans and Irisbus-badged minibuses. With gross weights of from 3.2-7.0 tonnes, and with a van body offering up to 17.2m3 of load area space, the model we picked, the rear-wheel drive Daily, can be ordered with the optional Agile automated manual gearbox and with four- wheel drive.
A range of ready-bodied DriveAway Options models has just been launched. On top of all that, a Daily that will run on landfill gas remains available alongside an electric model.

Cab

The Daily’s roomy three-seater cab offers plenty of storage space.
While the lock-less glove box’s usefulness is limited by its rather odd shape, there are bins in both doors – the large lower bin incorporates a moulding that can clasp a flask or a big bottle of water – not to mention shelves of various sizes strategically positioned around the dashboard and a bin that will hold an A4 clipboard. There’s also a cup-holder at each end of the fascia and a net for maps, magazines and newspapers on the bulkhead behind the driver.
There is no lack of either head or shoulder room and both the driver’s seat and the steering column are height-adjustable.

Load area

Looking rather like the main entrance to a cathedral, the opaque twin rear doors are remarkably tall, and open to reveal an enormous loading aperture. A full-width rear step plus a grab handle ease entry into the cargo area.
A nearside sliding door is fitted while a step and handle ease passage through the side entrance. Big vertical handles make it easy to open and close all the vehicle’s doors even if you are wearing thick working gloves.
A full-height solid steel bulkhead is installed along with no less than 10 cargo tie-down points, and lashing straps can be stowed on a shelf above the cab accessible solely from the load bay. There are two interior lights, but the marked tumblehome – the degree to which the van’s sides curve inwards as they meet the roof – means that making maximum use of the load area’s height could be a little problematic for some operators.
A big drawback of our 3950mm-wheelbase demonstrator was its modest payload capacity for a 3.5-tonnner – just 1145kg – which explains why it was delivered with an inflation pump and sealant to deal with punctures rather than a proper spare wheel. The weight of a spare would have cut the available payload capability even further.
On the other hand, the maximum permitted towing weight is quite high at 2800kg, although making use of it is likely to drag you into heavy truck drivers’ hours/tachograph territory.
Our demonstrator boasted a Super Van Option Pack for an extra £890 (all prices quoted here exclude VAT). It includes a  welcome reversing camera (the image appears on a screen above the windscreen when reverse is engaged and could perhaps stand to be a bit clearer), while the rear doors swing through a full 270 degrees. A spotlight, too, above the doors aids loading and unloading at night, and there’s a phenolic-coated timber cover for the load bed among other items, such as a third rear brake light.

Powertrain

The twin-turbo 16-valve four-cylinder common rail diesel produces its maximum power across a 3000-3500rpm plateau. Maximum torque of 470Nm
makes its presence felt over a 1400rpm-2600rpm plateau and the engine is married to a six-speed manual gear box operating through a single dry-plate hydraulic clutch.
A particulate filter comes as standard along with Exhaust Gas Recirculation.

Chassis and steering

Parabolic transverse leaf suspension is deployed at the front while single-leaf parabolic springs plus an anti-roll bar help support the rear. Our demonstrator’s 16-inch steel wheels were shod with 225/65 R16 C Continental Vanco 2 tyres. Hydraulically assisted rack-and- pinion steering offers a 13.2m turning circle between kerbs increasing to 14.3m wall-to-wall.

Performance

The acceleration is phenomenally brisk. For a big van, the 205hp Daily really gets a shift on, sprinting away from rest, thundering up through the gears and easily maintaining the maximum- permitted motorway speed up hill and down dale even when fully laden. A decent gear-change allows the driver to swap cogs quickly, while the gear lever housing itself has been re-positioned to ease cross-cab movement as part of the most recent package of changes. The danger is that you end up drifting above – possibly considerably above – the motorway speed limit without realising it. You have to keep reining in the big Daily, and as a consequence there is a strong case for using cruise control or (whisper it quietly) a top-end speed limiter.
Like so many big vans these days the Daily handles well despite its bulk, with lots of feedback through the responsive steering. It is manoeuvrable at parking speeds too – the reversing camera definitely comes in handy – once you have become used to its king-size dimensions of just over 7m long.
On the downside it can be a little noisy at idle – although that noise reduces markedly once underway – and the ride isn’t always as compliant as it ought to be.
Even with an evenly spread 980kg cargo of bagged gravel and timber on board the Daily had a tendency to hop about more than we felt was acceptable. We suspect things could get really lively when it is empty.

Equipment

Our van came complete with an optional Top Pack for £1440, which seems to represent reasonable value for money. It includes climate control, remote control split-function central locking – you can lock the cab and load area doors separately in other words – along with cruise control, which as we indicated earlier is invaluable on a van with this level of performance. The package also embraces electrically heated and adjustable exterior mirrors, a storage box under the dual-passenger seat, a full-width shelf above the windscreen and cornering front fog lights, which track the road ahead as the driver swings into a bend.
A mechanically suspended driver’s seat is included in the deal too. To ensure it works properly you use a dial on the side to input your weight in kilos (be honest now) before you settle down behind the wheel. We have never been that keen on this type of seat because we have seldom encountered one that works as it should. They almost always seem to end up out of sync with the van’s own suspension, creating the sort of undulating motion that makes the driver feel sick and start looking for ways in which the seat suspension can be locked out. But the seat fitted to this Daily proved to be a shining exception and went some way towards compensating for the difficulties sometimes experienced by the vehicle’s suspension. Without it we suspect the ride would have been a lot more uncomfortable.
Electric windows, a trip computer and an RDS radio/CD player are included in the van’s basic price.

Buying and running

A three-year unlimited-mileage warranty is a definite plus-point with service intervals set at one year/ 25,000 miles. Fuel economy was not an issue: we averaged a pretty respectable 32mpg.
Deep side, external rubbing strips protect the Daily from minor damage, and it is pleasing to see that the protection extends to the wheel arches.

Safety

Disc brakes are fitted all round and ABS is standard along with Hill Holder (which stops you rolling backwards when trying to execute a start on a gradient), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Anti-Slip Regulation, which is a traction control system.
The latest electronic stability programme – ESP 9 – is fitted as standard. It incorporates a variety of safety features including Hydraulic Brake Fade Control, Roll Movement Intervention and Roll Over Mitigation. A driver’s airbag is standard too.

 

Verdict

We like the big Daily – a lot. 

 

Year by year with the Daily

Debuting in the UK in 1978, the Daily quietly disappeared when in the 1980s Iveco combined its British activities with those of Ford’s heavy truck operation to create Iveco Ford: Ford was not keen on its dealers promoting anything that might compete with its Transit. Iveco’s need to maximise sales meant, however, it eventually crept back in again.
It got direct-injection turbo diesels in 1985 and a major restyling in 1989. It underwent a further makeover in 1996 while a CNG model broke cover in 1998. Common rail diesels appeared in 1999 with a comprehensive redesign. The Daily HPI with a 2.3-litre diesel with second-generation common rail fuel injection popped up three years later while the HPT and its 3.0-litre Variable Geometry Turbine arrived in 2004; the Agile automated manual gearbox arrived the same year. More styling changes came during 2006 along with further engine changes. Following yet more alterations in 2009, the current Euro5/EEV van arrived in 2011.

 

 



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