CommercialFleet

Iveco Daily

Review

With the international launch of the new Daily came the news that the range would not only include the traditional vans, chassis cabs and crew cabs of 3.5 tonnes and up, but also a new range of smaller 'city' vans, starting at 2.8 tonnes and competing directly with the likes of the Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter.

This is despite Ford having a 48% share-holding in the UK arm of Iveco (a further 48% is owned by Turin-based Iveco, part of the Fiat empire and the remaining 4% in the UK is a holding share).

Even with this close relationship with Ford in the UK, Iveco says the small van will go ahead in the UK and will be badged just 'Iveco' with no 'Ford' mention.

Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, Iveco's vice-president - business unit light, said: 'In the past, we have had an agreement with Ford not to build the smaller vans but with the launch of the new Daily the range will begin at 2.8 tonnes.

We are in discussions with Ford and either we find an effective operational agreement with two complete product ranges or, if we are not able to make an agreement, then we will continue anyway.'

This fighting talk from Iveco is backed with ambitious growth predictions for the UK, led largely by the introduction of the 2.8-3.3 tonne 'L-class' vans and chassis cabs.

Last year saw Iveco sell about 5,500 vehicles in the UK, giving it an 8% share of the van market.

Next year, the aim is to increase to 10% (7,500 units) or more with plans to increase the market share to about 20% over the new few years, bringing it to the same level as it has in much of the rest of Europe.

The arrival of the smaller vans takes the number of van models available up to nine, with cubic volumes ranging from 7.3 to 17.2 cubic metres, and corresponding changes to wheelbases, payloads and three roof height options.

Iveco's L-class range will win favour with many fleets with the drop in load height from the previous lowest of 750mm to 610mm - a far more accessible level.

The new Daily range is not only about vans: there's a new array of chassis and crew cabs. In fact, the fleet buyer may have to spend a little time deciding which vehicle to go for in the Iveco Daily line-up as there are now more than 3,000 variants to choose from.

These are all included in one of three classes - the entry-level L-class; S-class at 3.5 tonnes; and C-class which is the most direct heir to the Classic Daily, beginning at 3.5 tonnes up to 6.5 tonnes.

Powering much of this extensive choice list is a new 2.8-litre 'Unijet' common rail diesel engine, joining the existing 2.8-litre naturally-aspirated and direct injection diesels.

The new unit delivers 125bhp, offers extended service intervals, lower maintenance costs and improved fuel economy.

All the engines have been refined for the new Daily, with the noise level in the cab from engine and wind noise cut by almost half.

The two new gearboxes, five-speed and six-speed manuals, are also comfort-focused with a far more car-like shift.

This is reflected throughout the cab of both the van and chassis and crew cabs with driver ergonomics playing a far bigger role.

Everything about the Daily has become more like a car, with a sharp responsive feel to the steering and very little body roll even when heavily loaded.

Improvements have been made to visibility, particularly from the wide-angle mirror fitted to the bottom of the door mirror for a better field of vision.

Safety has also come into focus with disc brakes all around and ABS, automatic braking differential and electronic brakeforce distribution all available as options.

Security features include an immobiliser as standard on all models and optional central locking and remote alarm.

Designed in Italy, Fiat's influence is heavy on the interior with many knobs and lights reminiscent of the Brava and the white-backed dials in the console could have come straight out of an Alfa Romeo.

All of this looks very good, but I'm not too sure about the practicalities.

The curving dash and centre console is highly convenient for the driver but makes it tough for a second passenger in the centre seat, whose knees are pushed up against the plastic.

The casing around the steering column also seemed loose and rattles seem likely from the ashtray and glovebox lid.

Build quality is something Iveco was keen to point out had improved, and the panel fits and general solid feel to the vehicle was very good.

Of course, the odd rattle could well be overlooked if the price is right and, with longer service intervals, lower cost maintenance and the promise of improved residual values, the deal seems a not unattractive one.

UK pricing on the range as a whole is expected to be very similar, with little to no increase on that of the outgoing Daily, although details won't be announced until a couple of weeks before the September on-sale date.

The timing of the launch of the Daily is impeccable.

The Ford Transit is looking old in preparation for the new vehicle, but this will not be available until mid or even late next year - by which time Iveco could record some valuable sector successes.

A new 140bhp 2.8-litre common rail diesel engine with variable geometry turbo is expected to join the engine line-up early next year and Iveco has also confirmed that a factory-produced 106bhp 2.8-litre dedicated CNG unit is due arrive later this year or early next.

Sandy Mathieson, Iveco Ford UK's director of light products, said: 'One of the key benefits is that the engine in the existing range qualifies for the full Government Powershift grant of 75% off the additional cost of the CNG model and there is no reason this should change in the new Daily.'

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.