With a new Ducato heavy panel van and Doblo Cargo launched last year – and now a fresh Scudo appearing in April – it’s been a busy time for the CV lads at Fiat of late.
The Italian manufacturer is already reaping rewards with a 5% sales rise last year and the new light panel van on test here is likely to push that figure even higher in 2007.
The old Scudo, which also appears as the Citroën Dispatch and Peugeot Expert, was a worthy vehicle but it could never truly stand up to rivals such as the Vauxhall Vivaro and Volkswagen Transporter because it could not match those vans in terms of payload or load volume.
The new model answers those criticisms in full.
For the first time, long wheelbase and high roof models are on offer, which raise the load volume from four cubic metres to a maximum of seven cubic metres, while payloads are up from 800-900kg to 1,000-1,200kg.
The model on test here is the long wheelbase standard roof, with a 2.0-litre common rail diesel powerplant offering 120bhp at 4,000rpm and 225lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm.
This output is likely to be the big fleet seller but having spent a week with this van I’d almost say it’s too much for average fleet purposes, unless you’ll be lugging maximum loads around up steep hills.
The lower-powered 90bhp 1.6-litre unit will suffice for most uses, while the even more powerful 136bhp unit isn’t even worth considering fleetwise in my view.
Outside, the Scudo is a handsome looking beast.
Ours was clad in tasty metallic silver paint which adds £245 to the £15,650 ex-VAT pricetag.
In the cab, the seats are comfortable with plenty of lumbar support and a nice quality CD player comes as part of the package.
The only downside here is that there is hardly any legroom for the middle passenger.
In the business end, there are double side sliding doors and no fewer than eight load lashing eyes to keep cargo in place.
On the road the Scudo proves a delight.
It can be thrown into corners with the utmost confidence and gives just the right amount of ‘feel’ through the steering wheel. ABS brakes come as standard although sadly ESP traction control is a paid-for option.
Classy looking and a cracking drive. The new Scudo should do wonders for Fiat’s burgeoning LCV reputation.