As Britain’s heavy van market continues to rocket, manufacturers are increasingly turning up the heat in a bid to scrabble for extra market share.
Latest to push back the boundaries of power and safety is Iveco, which has revealed a raft of improvements to the Daily range for next year.
Iveco has seen increased demand among European fleets recently for higher-powered vans and so to oblige has replaced the old 2.8-litre engine with a 3.0-litre unit, offering either 136bhp or 166bhp, making the Daily the most powerful heavy panel van on the roads.
The title was previously held by the Volkswagen LT 158 which – unsurprisingly – has 158bhp on offer. Volkswagen does, however, retain the overall honours with the T5 Transporter, which has a blistering 174bhp variant at the top of its range.
The Daily is offered in gross vehicle weights of between 2.8 tonnes and 6.5 tonnes and it is in the upper echelons of the range that the 3.0-litre unit will make its appearance.
The common rail engine is capable of injection pressures of up to 1,800 bar and features double overhead camshafts with four valves per cylinder.
Iveco reckons on savings of around 10% over the old 2.8-litre unit.
Firstly, the HPI version will have 136bhp and torque of 264lb-ft while the HPT unit has 166bhp and 280lb-ft of torque.
The new engine should prove a money saver for fleet operators as all the components are designed for heavy duty, prolonged work.
For example the timing chain only needs to be replaced after 220,000 miles and oil changes are due every 25,000 miles instead of 18,000 miles on the old engine.
The motor is mated to a new six-speed gearbox which has been developed in conjunction with drivetrain specialist ZF.
As maximum torque is available as low down as 1,250rpm, Iveco reckons fewer gearchanges will be necessary, making for a more relaxed drive and less wear and tear generally.
Meanwhile in the cabin, noise has been further reduced because the engine only generates half as much noise at top speed as the old 2.8-litre and a third as much when idling, leading to an improvement in the cabin of 30%.
Iveco’s other big launch next year is the new AGile model, which sees the introduction of an automatic gearbox on the 2.3-litre 96bhp and 116bhp models.
The box can be set in fully automatic or sequential mode and will be available in the first quarter of 2005 for a cost of around £700 over manual box models.
Meanwhile on the safety front, Iveco will be offering an electronic stability program (ESP) for the first time for around £300 extra, which is linked to the ABS brakes.
This system works by constantly comparing the theoretical trajectory of the vehicle as set by the steering angle against the real vehicle trajectory and then makes any corrections necessary by applying the brakes to individual wheels.
Also if the unit considers the vehicle speed is too high for the surface grip conditions, it reduces the throttle and over-rides the engine control, even if the driver is accelerating.
It sounds complicated but most of the time the driver won’t even realise the unit is working.
The Daily also gets minor improvements to the front end for next year, with a redesigned grille and white indicators to replace the old orange ones.