Four-wheel drive commercial vehicles are all well and good, but they do come at a price. Not only are they pretty expensive to buy and maintain but rarely are they ever pushed to their full limits.
Most people who buy these vehicles simply want something that won’t get stuck in the mud and will scramble across rough ground, in which case the vehicle on test here – the Fiat Fiorino Adventure – will fit the bill nicely.
The front-wheel drive van features Traction+, which means an electronic diff lock system for improved grip in the mud, wet or snow. It works by detecting when a wheel is losing grip, and then adding traction to the other wheels, helping to force it through any sticky situation. The good news is that it takes no input from the driver to activate and also that the system doesn’t impact on fuel economy and running costs.
The Adventure also offers higher ground clearance, toughened suspension, 15-inch alloy wheels, extra protection under the engine, sides and lower front bumper and roof bars.
In fact, this van looks a bit like a standard Fiorino that has been visiting the gym each day for a few weeks.
It weighs in at £12,395 ex-VAT as opposed to its standard brother at £10,945, but you get lots of extra kit for the money.
The 95bhp 1.3-litre diesel powerplant gives extra power over the smaller 75bhp engine, yet returns a creditable 65.7mpg on the combined cycle while emitting just 113g/km of CO2.
Part of this high fuel economy figure is down to a stop-start system which comes as standard and is reckoned to save around 16% on fuel in urban environments where this van is at its best.
Behind the wheel
Here at Fleet Van we just love the Fiorino, which also appears as the Citroën Nemo and Peugeot Bipper.
It’s not only the cheeky looks and the immense practicality that we admire, but the Fiorino is fantastically comfortable with a figure-hugging driver’s seat, it’s smooth and quiet on the roads and handles nicely.
Add to that 65mpg capability and you have a strong proposition for any fleets which need small vans, although disappointingly our test week saw the fuel economy meter reading just 47.7mpg.
The puffed-up extras on the Adventure really make it stand out from its standard brother.
Our test model came in bright pillar box red and the jaunty roof rails and higher stance give it real presence. The van is also liberally swathed in black plastic, which will help to prevent it from annoying knocks and scrapes during the course of its fleet life.
Our test model also came with the fold-down passenger seat which bumps up load volume to 2.8 cubic metres, although this turned out to be an option at £70.
There was also a dual sliding side door at £200 but we were pleased to note that electronic stability control comes as standard – it’s an option on other Fiorinos.
During our test week we managed to scramble across a couple of muddy fields and the Fiorino never felt like it was going to let us down.
We have previously tested this vehicle on a challenging off-road course and have been amazed at just how much it can do.
It obviously can’t match the outright grip of a four-wheel drive vehicle when the going gets tough, but for the majority of fleets that need a limited amount of off-road ability, the Fiorino should be a more than capable vehicle.
Why pay extra for four-wheel drive when you don’t really need it? This van fills a small niche but it does so with the utmost aplomb.