Iveco Daily van review
A tough chassis means the Iveco Daily beats other panel vans for load carrying, but tough rivals include the Mercedes Sprinterother
The Iveco Daily stands out in the UK van market, and not only thanks to its individual and instantly recognisable styling.
For one thing the big Iveco panel van doesn’t share its design or underpinnings with any joint venture partners, which is a rarity these days. The Daily is also different because although it’s a large panel van, it comes from a manufacturer that specialises in building bigger trucks. While it’s the baby of the Iveco range, the Daily van still uses a rugged ladder-frame chassis like its full-size stable-mates. Nowadays, pretty much everything else in the large van segment has moved to stamped unibody construction.
You wouldn’t buy a Daily just because it’s different of course, but that’s OK because Iveco has made sure the van has many more practical features to make it a sound commercial proposition.
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It’s a challenger in a hard-fought segment where extremely competent rivals like Ford's Transit and the Mercedes Sprinter hold sway. While the latest Iveco Daily maintains its traditional appeal to the re-body market thanks to that easily convertible ladder chassis, this third-generation Daily was re-engineered from the ground up, so eighty per cent of its parts were brand new.
But still, there’s no doubt the Daily’s chassis is a desirable selling point. Apart from offering terrific versatility for specialist conversions, it gives the model class-leading load-carrying capabilities. There isn’t another van out there that can match the Daily’s 7 tonne maximum gross vehicle weight, or its 19.6m3 maximum load volume.
The Daily isn’t all about big cargos either, as Iveco reckons it can sell you one in any of 8,000 different combinations of format and specification. For starters the line-up of five vehicle lengths and three roof heights produces a range of possible load volumes that starts from 7.3m3 in the 3.3-tonne variant so those needing less space are now well catered for too.
Aside from the vans, chassis cabs, crew cabs and minibuses are also available off the peg in numerous variations to produce a range of impressive breadth. Standard, Daily Plus and Daily Top trim levels are offered.
The engine range is shared with Fiat’s front-wheel-drive Ducato but the 2.3 and 3.0-litre 4-cylinder common-rail diesel units are available in a wider range of power options in the Daily, as well as being mounted longitudinally to drive the rear wheels.
There are nine engine options in total, from the 105bhp 2.3-litre to the 202bhp 3.0-litre, and a CNG natural gas-powered engine as well. Various features including start-stop, Iveco’s EcoSwitch and a Smart Alternator that recaptures kinetic energy to charge the battery are included to boost efficiency.
It probably isn’t going to sway too many hard-nosed van operators but at a time when many large panel vans look like they’ve been bludgeoned with the ugly stick, the Daily is an attractive piece of styling. The floating clamshell bonnet and sleek headlamps make for an attractive front end.
In general, this is a panel van that draws on Iveco’s huge HGV expertise and gives rivals a lesson in load carrying toughness. It’s by far the best daily yet in terms of comfort, economy and sophistication too but it still lags behind rivals in these areas.
MPG and Running Costs
The latest Iveco Daily offers average fuel economy savings of 5.5% over its predecessor but some models achieve gains of 14%. This has been achieved partly through weight saving techniques in the body and suspension design and partly through the addition of new technologies, engine revisions and aerodynamic improvements.
The most economical Iveco Dailys are the 3.3 and 3.5t single rear-wheel models with the 2.3-litre engine in its most powerful 144bhp guise. Combined cycle returns of 34mpg aren’t the best in the large panel van class, where over 40mpg is now commonplace, but this improves to 35mpg with the addition of stop-start tech.
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Further fuel economy gains can be made by specifying the EcoPack from the options list. This bundles stop-start in with an EcoSwitch system that reduces engine torque and limits the top speed when activated. The heavy-duty models also benefit from an HGV-style SCR (selective catalytic reduction) system that uses urea solution to clean the exhaust gases and renders the Daily compliant with the latest Euro VI emissions regulations.
Taking care of security, all versions of the Daily come with remote central locking, while alarm is on the optional extras list. Security for oddments and personal items in the cabin is improved by five separate closable compartments, which keep things out of view. There’s also a fully trimmed bulkhead to separate the load area from the cabin.
Load Space and Practicality
The Daily’s ladder-frame chassis can be tailored according to the individual load carrying requirements of each model. This means that strengthening can be removed on the smaller models to save weight or added in the larger models to increase payload capacity. The result is that the Daily is one of the most capable load luggers out there.
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Gross vehicle weights from 3.3 to 7 tonnes and load volumes from 7.3m3 to 19.6m3 contribute towards a range of 8,000 different versions. The big seller is predicted to be the 10.8m3 van, for which Iveco claims class leadership in terms of space efficiency.
One traditional disadvantage of a ladder frame chassis design is a high loading height but Iveco has managed to lower the Daily’s by 55mm, producing a load platform that’s less of a step up than that of rear-wheel-drive rivals. By specifying optional air suspension at the rear it’s possible to further lower the van so its loading height is on a par with the best front-wheel-drive alternatives.
The loadbay itself is uniformly shaped with 1,320mm between the wheelarches and the capability of swallowing a standard Europallet through its rear or sliding side doors. On the downside, the internal grab handles that aid access to the load area seem a little flimsy and the doors slam with the kind of unsatisfactory clang that other van markers have worked hard to eradicate.
Reliability and Safety
Iveco likes to see the Daily as a small truck rather than a large van and its heavy-duty design should be tough enough to stay the course for most operators.
In the UK the brand is at a disadvantage compared to the likes of Ford in terms of the size of its dealer network but Iveco dealers are dedicated truck dealers, set-up around the specific needs of businesses. If something does go wrong with your Daily, they should appreciate the importance of sorting it out quickly.
Standard safety kit on the Daily runs to ABS, ESP stability control, seatbelt pretensioners and a driver’s airbag. Passenger and window airbags are restricted to the options list alongside a land departure warning system and rear parking sensors.
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Driving and Performance
An advanced Quad-Leaf double wishbone front suspension system on the Daily promises a comfortable ride and sharper driving dynamics than on the old model. In practice, our drive on the smooth surfaces of an Italian test track produced promising results. The front end feels supple and compliant while gripping well in the corners. There’s not too much body roll either.
The Daily doesn’t feel responsive and light on its feet as a Ford Transit, which offers better steering feel and a slicker manual gearchange. The 10.5m minimum kerb-to-kerb turning circle is excellent, however, and means even the larger Daily versions are easy to manoeuvre at low speeds.
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The engines get more refined as you ascent the power scale with the range-topping 202bhp 3.0-litre unit hardly having to raise its voice above a low whoosh to shift a 16m3 van with an 80% payload on board. With 470Nm on tap through a sizable chunk of the rev range, there’s impressive flexibility when you need it.
The 145bhp 2.3-litre unit has 350Nm to play with and sounds less relaxed. It will have you reaching for a lower gear more often but it’s still a fine engine. Lower down the range, the less powerful 2.3-litre units need more gear swapping to maintain swift progress when there’s a big load on board and the short gear ratios craw your attention to the less-than-smooth manual ‘box.
Cab and Interior
Van manufacturers are increasingly aiming to give their products a more car-like feel and Iveco didn’t want to be left behind on that score. This Daily has massaged away the overt truck overtones of the previous model’s interior but it still doesn’t have the sophistication in the cab of a Transit or Mercedes Sprinter.
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Having said that, some operators will appreciate the unapologetically hard plastics and no-nonsense design. Areas for criticism include some poorly finished trim around the door inserts and the cheap chrome on the dials for the top-spec EcoMac air-conditioning system.
There’s certainly a lot of storage with abundant of options for keeping documents, drinks and your lunch out of harm’s way. The controls are child’s play to get your head around too, including the optional IVEConnect touchscreen sat-nav system, which is one of the best you’ll currently find in a van.
Load area dimensions
- Power: 105bhp - 202bhp
- Torque: 270Nm - 470Nm
- Gross vehicle weight: 3.3t - 7.0t
- Load volume: 7.3m3 - 19.6m3
- Equipment: ABS, driver's airbag, Bluetooth, full steel bulkhead, central locking, electric windows