In the back
With a payload of 1,505kg, the Ducato Maxi offers more than the 1,480kg of the 2.8 JTD, with load volume of a handy 12 cubic metres.
There is an extra high roof option available at £800 (ex-VAT), but I found the standard high-roof was easily capable of accommodating my 6ft 4in frame with headroom to spare.
The single side sliding door and twin rear doors extend nearly all the way up to the roof line, which helps access.
Inside the slider is a useful 12v socket which can be used to augment the load bay light – handy because the light itself is on the feeble side.
At the back, a useful step is built in to the rear bumper and the loading height, at 1881mm, is comfortable with the full-height doors.
There are numerous lashing eyes, though side protection is limited to a meagre-looking fibreboard panel on either side.
Full lining would be essential to maintain your residual values.
On the road
There’s plenty of punch from the 2.3 JTD engine – 10bhp more than its 2.2 HDi PSA stablemates – and it is surprisingly quiet on the move, with muted engine roar and good wind noise suppression.
Both door casings include substantial and very comfortable armrests located at just the right height to wedge yourself in against body roll.
The steering is light – great for low-speed manoeuvring, a little vague at speed – and the view out is commanding, thanks to big windows and the massive door mirrors with ‘panoramic’ feature.
These, together with the handy dash-mounted gearshift, really do make light work of reversing.
With its 18,000-mile service intervals, plus a fine three-year/100,000-mile warranty, the Ducato is clearly designed for hard work.
With its enhanced payload over the 2.8 JTD and punchy performance, the Ducato 2.3 JTD Maxi is a van to be reckoned with, and strikingly good value for money.
On the strength of this, and dependent on the promised improvement in Fiat’s service backup based on the new dealer network, choosing Fiat from the Peugeot/Citroen/Fiat Sevel van line-up is a much more enticing proposition than before.