Fiat Doblo

Van-based model offers cavernous space for the price of a supermini.

Want to find the model with the ultimate space-per-pound ratio? Then head down to your nearest Fiat dealer.

The Doblo isn’t a familiar sight on UK roads, but only when you spend some time exploring its cabin do you realise what we’re all missing out on.

The figures speak for themselves. Even with five passengers on board, there’s still room for 750 litres of luggage. That figure rises to 3,000 litres if you fold the seats, which is nearly double the carrying capacity of a Ford Mondeo estate! The rear chairs drop flat in a conventional way, but one drawback is that the bench can’t be removed.

The Fiat’s practicality is only half the story, though. Its prices aren’t simply cheap, they’re staggering. The entry-level 1.4-litre Active variant weighs in at a supermini-rivalling £10,007. Perhaps even more impressive is the seven-seat Family version, which is available in 1.3-litre diesel form from only £11,068.

So could you really live with the Fiat on a daily basis? The first hurdle is its image. As with van-style people carrier rivals, the Italian model has a commercial vehicle shape, with a high roofline, large wing mirrors and sliding doors. Our top-spec test car looked smart, however, and would hardly break the bank, as it weighs in at less than £13,000.

And that boxy shape pays dividends inside. While the cabin lacks the design quality of more modern rivals, such as Citroen’s Berlingo Mutlispace, it offers similar versatility on a budget. There’s comfortable seating throughout, and the large windows give a light and airy atmosphere. Take a seat behind the wheel, and you’ll enjoy an upright driving position with a commanding view of the road.

The Doblo’s appeal doesn’t evaporate once you leave the showroom, either. There is more body roll than in a standard hatch, yet the Fiat is surprisingly nimble. The steering is direct, and at no point does the budget MPV feel unwieldy.

Buyers have a choice of four engines – a 77bhp 1.4-litre petrol, an 85bhp 1.3-litre diesel or 105bhp and 120bhp versions of the firm’s 1.9-litre oil-burner. It’s the small-capacity diesel that makes the most sense, offering 54.3mpg and a CO2 output of 137g/km.

Just don’t expect lots of pace. While the torquey engine feels punchy, a 0-62mph time of 16.4 seconds is proof that performance is lacking.

However, if you value low prices and practicality above straight-line acceleration, the Doblo is unbeatable.

Details

Price: £10,007-£12,542Model tested: Fiat Doblo

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