Fiat Ducato

Our Rating: 
4.2
4.2/5.0
Price Range: 
£19,395 to £30,295
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Fiat Ducato is one of the most efficient vans in its class, plus it has one of the largest load capacities

For: 
Low fuel consumption, one of largest vans in class
Against: 
Confusing range overlap, no crew van option

The Fiat Ducato is produced as part of a joint venture with PSA Peugeot Citroen that also spawned the Peugeot Boxer and Citroen Relay.

Fiat offers a wide range of Ducato vans, with a choice of three wheelbase lengths, four body lengths and three roof heights. That means there are seven panel van body sizes, split between the Ducato and Ducato Maxi models.

Confusingly, the line-ups overlap, with the Ducato ranging from L1H1 to L3H2 models and the heavy-duty Ducato Maxi from L2H2 to L4H3. In addition, there are window van, dropside truck, combi and minibus versions, plus the Ducato is a popular choice for camper or motorhome conversions.

All models are front-wheel drive, while Fiat diesels provide the power – no engines are shared with Peugeot or Citroen. The 2.3 and 3.0 litre four-cylinder diesels are based on the engines used in the Iveco Daily range, and the 2.3-litre is available with 110bhp, 130bhp and 148bhp outputs. The 3.0-litre delivers 177bhp.

All are hooked up to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, although Fiat offers its Comfort-Matic six-speed automated gearbox as an option on the 130bhp and 148bhp 2.3-litre and the 3.0-litre.

MPG and Running Costs

4.3

The Fiat Ducato range promises the lowest fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures in its class. Automatic engine stop-start helps here – the system is available on the 130bhp and 148bhp 2.3-litre models, and helps them return respective fuel economy of 40.9mpg and 39.2mpg and emit 180g/km and 189g/km.

Yet even without stop-start, the Ducato is impressively efficient, with even the thirstiest model promising 33.6mpg fuel consumption and 222g/km CO2 emissions. The closest rival in terms of efficiency is the Ford Transit, which claims up to 38.7mpg.

Long service intervals also set the Ducato apart in this class, with a check-up only needed every 30,000 miles or two years. That puts rivals like the Peugeot Boxer (25,000 miles/24 months) and Ford Transit (20,000 miles/12 months) in the shade.

As the Fiat shares its mechanicals with the Peugeot and Citroen, spares and parts should be easy to come by, while low insurance bills complete a tempting financial package: insurance group ratings for the Ducato range from 5E to 8E. That’s the same as the Peugeot Boxer, although premiums will be higher for rivals like the Nissan NV400, which sits in groups 12E to 15E.

Load Space and Practicality

4.3

Vast dimensions give the Ducato panel van one of the largest load capacities in its class, with up to 17.0 cubic metres. Only the Iveco Daily offers more, at up to 17.2 cubic metres.

The gross weight range extends from 3,000kg to 4,005kg. That maximum is beyond the LCV licence threshold of 3,500kg, above which motorists would need an HGV licence if they passed their driving test after 1 January 1997.

Fiat has divided the range into lighter Ducato and heavier Ducato Maxi models, with the former, powered by the 2.3-litre engines, comprising L1H1 to L3H2 versions featuring gross vehicle weights between 3,000kg and 3,500kg.

The Ducato Maxi range overlaps with the Ducato range, taking in L2H2 to L4H3 models at 3,500kg and 4,005kg GVW. Payloads trail rivals, but models that offer more than the Ducato – such as the Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, Renault Master and VW Crafter – tend to have gross weights well above 3,500kg, which obviously restrict some drivers.

The 3,500kg GVW Ducato with the highest payload is the L1H1 35, with 1,640kg. And the Fiat hits back with the widest load space in its class, at 1,870mm, plus the greatest width between wheelarches, at 1,422mm – it shares these honours with its Citroen Relay and Peugeot Boxer sister vans. These dimensions mean users can load a 1,200mm wide Euro pallet widthways.

The Ducato also has the tallest interior, with H3 models offering 2,172mm of height. A nearside sliding side door is standard on the Ducato, with an offside door an option, and these come in a choice of 1,075mm and 1,250mm widths and 1,485mm and 1,755mm heights. So it should be easy to get large loads on pallets aboard the van from the side.

The rear doors also come in different sizes, according to roof height: on H1 models they’re over 1,500mm tall, on the H2 it’s nearly 1,800mm and on H3 models they’re over 2,000mm high.

Reliability and Safety

4.3

The Ducato has a loyal following among van buyers, and this is largely down to the strong reliability record of its Fiat engines.

It also helps that the van is easy to drive, with the large door mirrors incorporating a wide-angle lower mirror to enhance visibility. Plus, to take the strain out of parking manoeuvres, Fiat offers a reversing camera as a £312.50 optional extra.

Strong safety credentials add to the appeal of the Ducato, with a full-height steel bulkhead separating the load area from the passenger compartment on all versions.

Fiat has fitted ESC electronic stability control as standard across the range since April 2013, while a driver’s airbag is also included, with passenger, side and window airbags available as options.

Driving and Performance

4.1

The 110bhp 2.3-litre engine is only available on the L1H1 Ducato with a gross weight of 3,000kg, and performs adequately enough in this van. But the 130bhp diesel is a better all-rounder, combining decent performance with the lowest fuel consumption and emissions in the Ducato range.

Upgrade to the 148bhp engine, and you’ll feel the benefit of the extra power without a significant difference in efficiency, although many drivers may find it’s not worth the price premium.

The 177bhp 3.0-litre engine is only offered in the Ducato Maxi – which is heavier, thanks to its reinforced suspension. This diesel provides effortless performance, but obviously goes hand in hand with higher fuel consumption. Still, no matter which model you choose, the Ducato holds the road well.

Cab and Interior

4

Fiat sells the Ducato with a dual passenger seat as standard, but buyers can specify a single passenger seat as a no-cost option. Whichever you go for, the seats are well padded and comfortable for longer journeys, while most users should be able to get a decent driving position as the steering wheel and seat offer plenty of adjustment.

The dashboard feels durable enough – if not quite up to the standard of rivals from Mercedes and Volkswagen – while there’s plenty of storage space, with two large gloveboxes, numerous cubbyholes, large door pockets and under seat storage. Fiat also offers a long list of options, including everything from air-conditioning to the Blue and Me infotainment system and TomTom sat-nav preparation.

Van dimensions

Body style

Height

Width

Length

L1H1 low roof van

2,254mm

2,050mm

4,963mm

L2H1 low roof van

2,254mm

2,050mm

5,413mm

L2H2 medium roof van

2,524mm

2,050mm

5,413mm

L3H2 medium roof van

2,524mm

2,050mm

5,998mm

L4H2 medium roof van

2,524mm

2,050mm

6,363mm

L4H3 high roof van

2,764mm

2,050mm

6,363mm

(Width including door mirrors: 2,508mm) 

Load area dimensions

Body style

Height

Width

Length

Volume

L1H1 low roof van

1,662mm

1,870mm

2,670mm

8.0m3

L2H1 low roof van

1,662mm

1,870mm

3,120mm

10.0m3

L2H2 medium roof van

1,623mm

1,870mm

3,120mm

11.5m3

L3H2 medium roof van

1,932mm

1,870mm

3,705mm

13.0m3.

L4H2 medium roof van

1,932mm

1,870mm

4,070mm

15.0m3

L4H3 high roof van

2,172mm

1,870mm

4,070mm

17.0m3

(Width between wheel arches: 1,422mm)

Specifications

  • Power: 110bhp – 177bhp
  • Weight (GVW): 3,000kg – 4,005kg
  • Payload: 1,140kg – 1,995kg
  • Loading height (approx, unladen): 460mm
Last updated: 29 Nov, 2013

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