Fiat, which has been named most improved van manufacturer at the Fleet Van Awards, has upped the panel van ante with its latest Ducato, offering 25 different models up to four tonnes gvw.
Our test model – long wheelbase and medium high roof – is a mighty mover with 13 cubic metres of loadspace in the back, but Fiat also offers extra long wheelbase models with even higher roofs.
The Ducato is part of an agreement with PSA in which it also features as the Citroën Relay and Peugeot Boxer, although Fiat uses its own JTD turbodiesel powerplants.
From the outside, it’s a stylish van with plenty of padding to avoid those annoying knocks and scrapes that plague most panel vans.
Climbing aboard, the driver’s seat is placed high, giving a good view over the average car and the seat is one of the best on the market, with loads of support in all directions.
There’s also a useful pop-up A4 paper support on the top of the dash and the middle seat folds down the reveal a desk. It’s almost like a mobile office.
In the rear, our test model had full ply-lining – a must in my book – and despite the fact that I measure 6ft 3in I was able to stand up straight without hitting my head on the roof.
I’d say the 2.3-litre 120bhp powerplant is about the right one for this model. It’s a lusty performer that will pull a fully-loaded van along up most hills without a struggle, but lacks the ‘loony toons’ performance of some of the more powerful models.
There’s a 3.0-litre 160bhp unit on offer from Fiat, for example, but we can’t see that an average fleet buyer would need it. Under way, the full bulkhead makes for a whisper quiet ride and the short-throw gearstick allows for some lovely smooth changes.
ABS brakes are standard but sadly, ESP traction control is still an option, despite being standard on the rival Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter.