Since their launch in 2008, the Fiat Fiorino, Citroën Nemo and Peugeot Bipper have all been clones of each other, albeit all built by the Italian manufacturer.
However, earlier this year PSA Group announced it was quietly dropping the little van from its range within the next couple of years and, while Fiat has upgraded the Fiorino, Citroën and Peugeot will continue offering the older model.
True all three now have Euro 6 engines but other improvements have been ignored. That puts Fiat very much in the lead in the city van sector for fleet buyers as it seems that PSA has virtually given up on this perky little contender.
It’s a great shame as the Fiorino is a cracking vehicle which has won a raft of awards since it first went on sale, including several from Commercial Fleet and its former title Fleet Van.
So what exactly does the Fiorino now offer that the others don’t?
There’s a new front end, better-looking alloy wheels, a redesigned steering wheel and controls, new graphics on the instrument cluster, upgrades to the storage compartments and a new touchscreen infotainment system.
The 1.3-litre turbodiesel engine has been upgraded to Euro 6, a 14% improvement on fuel economy (up to 74.3mpg on the combined cycle) and CO2 emissions of 100g/km.
Our test van is the SX variant and weighs in at £13,015 ex-VAT, which compares favourably with the rival Ford Transit Courier, but, sadly, a lot of the things we admired turned out to be paid-for extras.
The snazzy paint job, for example, adds £300, air-con is £500, the bulkhead which made the cab whisper quiet is £80, stop/start £200 and reversing sensors are £150. Even the USB charger in the centre console is a £25 option.
In fact with all the extras added, the total came to a hefty £15,930.
Extras aside, the Fiorino is incredibly well built and certainly has a premium quality feel to it.
Despite its diminutive size, the seats are big and comfortable and there’s a lumbar adjustment knob on the driver’s seat, which is unusual for a vehicle of this size and ensures a supportive driving position.
Storage space is at a premium but there’s a large scooped out area on top of the dash which will hold the bits and pieces that drivers accumulate – and there are even two coffee cup holders between the seats. The infotainment system is a natty touchscreen affair but at £395 extra it’s hardly worth mentioning as few company drivers are likely to get it.
On the road, the Fiorino is a sheer delight to drive, with the gear changes light and sure. Meanwhile handling is taut and crisp, which means this little van is a competent performer on the bends.
Now the Fiorino has a better spec than its brothers from Citroën and Peugeot, there are even more reasons to choose this perky Italian contender.