If Fiat Professional’s new Talento looks familiar, that is hardly surprising. Its replacement for the long-serving and now-outdated Scudo is a rebadged version of Renault’s Trafic with some cosmetic alterations, thanks to a deal between the Italian and French manufacturers.
Trafic is also sold by Vauxhall as the Vivaro, and Nissan plans to market the same model as the NV300. Scudo was the product of a joint-venture between PSA and Fiat, which also spawned the now-being-replaced Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert.
Selling a vehicle that will be available through three other dealer networks may seem a tough call given the ability it gives customers to play one marque off against another to secure the best deal. But Fiat Professional does have the advantage that it is a dedicated light commercial operation with half its UK network linked to truck dealers. They are well aware of the importance of efficient aftermarket support and can offer out-of-hours servicing.
With cargo volumes ranging from 5.2 to 8.6 cubic metres, Talento enables Fiat Professional to cover a wider area of the market than Scudo could. It stopped at 7.0 cubic metres.
The manufacturer clearly believes that being able to offer that additional 1.6 cubic metres to customers who need it, but do not wish to move up to something the size of the heavier Ducato to get it, will give it an advantage.
Delivered through a six-speed manual gearbox, Talento’s power comes from a 1.6-litre diesel at 95hp, 120hp, 125hp or 145hp. The two most powerful versions are fitted with twin turbochargers. Twin turbos do not have to mean big fuel bills, Fiat Professional insists – the 145hp diesel delivers 46.3mpg on the combined cycle, according to official figures.
Selective Catalytic Reduction is being used to enable Talento to meet Euro 6, which means it has an AdBlue reservoir that requires periodic replenishment.
Payload capacity goes up to 1,249kg and a neat touch is the CargoPlus load-through facility. It allows anybody sliding extra-long items aboard to open a hatch in the bulkhead and make use of the space under the front passenger seats.
Talento is not being sold solely as a van, however. It is also being marketed as a crew cab with a second row of seats and a load area at the rear, as a people carrier and in platform cab guise.
Two levels of trim are available: entry-level and SX. With the former you get electric windows and electrically-operated and heated exterior mirrors, a full-height bulkhead, a full-size spare wheel and a DAB radio among other features. Go for the latter and the equipment you add includes air-conditioning and rear parking sensors.
We took to the highway in a 145hp long-wheelbase Talento with Stop and Start and some remarkably-fancy black alloy wheels, among other extras.
With zero weight in the back there was little to hamper our progress and there is no denying that – like Trafic and associated models – Talento offers a commendably-high standard of ride and handling. However it does not quite match the drivability of Ford’s latest Transit Custom or the build quality of Volkswagen’s latest Transporter.
The optional ViewPlus blind-spot mirror on the inside of the passenger-side sun visor could make drivers a little queasy after a while – but it could be a life-saver for cyclists.