In-depth reviews

Fiat Talento van review

The Fiat Talento is the replacement for the Scudo and joins the battle in the hard-fought Ford Transit Custom sector

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Good to drive, stylish and comfortable
  • Lack of advanced safety options, more frugal rivals

While the Talento is a new name, this Fiat van isn't an all-new package. Basically it’s a rebadged version of the latest Renault Trafic and Vauxhall Vivaro, but it's none the worse for that. Talento is not an all-new name, either, as some may remember it being used on a short wheelbase version of the Fiat Ducato in the 1980s.

The Renault Trafic was introduced in 2014, while the Fiat Professional introduced the Talento in 2016. Although it uses some platform engineering from the last Trafic, the new van has made a significant impact on the sector with its good-looking and practical design, comfortable ride and cabin refinement. The good news for Fiat fans (or at least for Fiat fleets), is that the new Talento gets the benefit of all that hard work from Renault, along with the latest Euro VI compliant engines.

In fact, the only thing separating the Fiat from its Renault and Vauxhall sister models is the badging and grille treatment – which has been mildly reworked to reflect the Fiat Professional range’s family face. And it’s a Professional range that’s looking stronger than ever, from the new Fiat Fullback pickup, to a van line-up that includes the Fiorino, Doblo and Ducato – all of which have been renewed or refreshed as part of the FCA group's turnaround programme.

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While Vauxhall versions of this van are built at Luton, the Fiat Talento is assembled on the same production line as the Trafic in Sandouville, France. It also shares space on the line with another rebadged variant, the Nissan NV300.

Aside from taking on its own siblings, the Talento goes into battle against a tough crowd of competitors that includes the Ford Transit Custom, Mercedes Vito and Volkswagen Transporter. It’s toughest challenge though, is likely to come from the PSA Group and the new Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch vans, which offer great packaging, an advanced safety package, and even more refinement for the driver.

In common with rivals the Talento comes in a variety of formats – in fact there are nine in total, with short- and long-wheelbase vans with high or low roofs, plus people carriers, crew vans and a chassis cab. Engines are all 1.6 diesels with single or twin-turbos, and power outputs from 94bhp to 123bhp.

There are two trim levels – the entry model being called simply Talento, and coming with central locking, electric windows and mirrors, height adjustable driver seat, plus Bluetooth, DAB and steering wheel controls for audio. The entry level Combi is called the Active, and adds a rear tailgate with wiper, passenger airbag and rear seats that fold or can be removed.

A higher spec version of the van is called the Talento SX, and adds air-con, Mobile Office, parking sensors and an oddly named ‘Living Brown’ interior trim package. The SX Combi also gets 17 inch alloys, fog lamps, automatic lights and wipers, plus cruise control and satnav to complete the high-spec feel. All models feature LED daylight running lamps, ABS with EBD, and ESC with a hill-holder function.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

The 1.6-litre Euro 6 Multijet diesels are efficient and frugal, starting with the 94bhp entry-level engine that produces a healthy 260Nm of torque, and returns a combined economy figure of 43.5mpg. CO2 emissions are listed at 170g/km, but if you go for Ecojet spec with Start&Stop, the CO2 drops to 160g/km and economy rises to 46.3mpg. The 118bhp version has more torque with 300Nm, but economy is the same as the lower-powered engine at 43.5mpg.

Twin-turbo versions of the engine are available with outputs of 123bhp and 143bhp, the former providing 320Nm and the latter 340Nm. Indeed it’s the 118bhp engine that provides the greatest economy, with a claimed 47.9mpg on the combined cycle, and the lowest emissions of 155g/km. The range-topping 143bhp engine is efficient too, with numbers that broadly match those of the entry-level 94bhp model.

Those economy figures look decent enough, but there’s no getting away from the fact they’re significantly down on the best in class numbers claimed by the latest Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch. The PSA group rivals claim 55.3mpg for their most efficient 114bhp van, and an average across the line up of 52.3mpg.

In all significant respects the running costs for the Fiat should match those of the vans it shares a platform with, but while the Talento comes with a three-year/120,000 mile warranty, the Renault Trafic warranty is over four years, but with a 100,000-mile limit.

Standard security features are in line with the Trafic and Vivaro. That means there’ll be an immobiliser on everything, but you’ll have to pay extra for an alarm. Keyless entry will be on the options list too, but all vans do get a full metal bulkhead as part of latest EU regulations.

Load Space and Practicality

As well as having nine body styles to pick from, the Talento’s packaging means it provides a range of very practical options. The basic van measures 4,999mm and it has a cubic capacity of 5.2 cubic metres even in the low-roof short wheelbase version. Opt for the long wheelbase and capacity rises to 6m3, or an even more impressive 8.6 cubic metres in high-roof guise. The space on offer means the smallest of the Talento models can swallow three Euro pallets or 11 sheets of plasterboard, and the maximum payload quoted is for a maximum of 1,249kg.

The Talento also benefits from a through-loading hatch in the bulkhead that allows you to poke longer loads like pipes or ladders through into the passenger compartment. The total available length for short wheelbase versions is 3,750mm, and 4,150mm for long wheelbase – although this CargoPlus feature is an option, and not fitted as standard. If you don’t take the option, the standard short wheelbase load length is 2,537mm. While the Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch have better running costs, they can't quite match the overall dimensions of the Talento

It's a similar story with access, as the Talento has larger dors than the Peugeot and Citroen. At the back you’ll find doors that open to a wide 255-degree angle, and the left-hand door can be locked in place to show the number plate while the right can be left open if you need to hang a load out over the bumper. A big sliding side door has a 1,030mm opening – so not quite large enough for the Euro pallet.

It does have a low loading height though, at just 100mm. A plywood lining kit is optionally available with a resin-coated plywood floor, and of course any number of racking options can be explored. There are plentiful lashing points running the length of the interior on either side, too.

Reliability and Safety

The Talento has safety adequately covered, not least thanks to its sturdy construction and standard steel bulkhead. That said, Euro NCAP’s crash test of a Renault Trafic Combi in 2015 resulted in only a three star rating. In contrast, the SpaceTourer and Traveller versions of the new Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert have been awarded five star ratings. The newcomers benefit greatly from sharing a platform architecture derived from a passenger car, as well as their more advanced safety systems.

In fact, the PSA duo scores 87 per cent for adult occupant safety, against 52 per cent for the Trafic/Talento, which is quite a differential. Scores for child occupant safety and pedestrian safety are similar between the rivals, but the PSA vans win out on advanced safety systems, where their 78 per cent score beats the Talento/Trafic’s 57 per cent.

Standard safety equipment on the Talento includes LED daytime running lights, ABS with EBD, and Emergency Brake Assistance plus ESC with a Traction+ function designed to enhance traction on slippery surfaces such as muddy trails. You can add optional side airbags and window airbags, plus there’s a Trailer Stability Assistance system, which adjusts braking force on each wheel to save you if your trailer gets out of shape. A reversing camera and monitor is also optional, as is cruise control with a speed limiter.

There should be no doubts over the Talento’s reliability, as the Renault-sourced engines are claimed to be good for 400,000km – and the technology is certainly tried and tested.

Driving and Performance

The latest Euro VI compliant versions of Renault’s 1.6-litre turbodiesel and twin-turbo engines are strong on performance as well as efficiency. We’ve driven the 118bhp 1.6-litre Multijet with 300Nm of torque, and were impressed by the vehicle’s punchy performance and the refinement of the engine. Fiat doesn’t quote any performance figures, but with this engine – likely to be the most popular – there’s a responsiveness to throttle, especially in the mid-range, which helps to make the Talento a pleasure to drive.

The manual gearbox changes smoothly and easily, and the steering is pleasantly weighted and makes the van more accurate to place than the new PSA rivals which suffer with over-light steering. The brakes are strong, and the Fiat van feels poised and stable in corners without too much body roll. The Talento provides a comfortable ride too, with the fixed bulkhead helping to mask noise from the load bay and improving refinement – although the PSA duo are a little better overall for both ride comfort and a quiet cabin environment.

We like the Talento’s driving position too, as there’s plenty of adjustment in both the steering column and seat. There’d be little hardship in sitting behind the wheel all day. Visibility is good, thanks to the high seat position, while large wing mirrors with a wide-angle section in the lower half mean blind spots are significantly smaller than the ones in Peugoet and Citroen's mid-sized vans.

Cab and Interior

Here again, the Talento’s interior must play second fiddle to the more car-like ambience of the PSA group vans, but there’s not much between them from a practical perspective. The Fiat has a two-tone plastic fascia that feels tough and solidly screwed together, and although the fit and finish doesn’t really suggest a premium feel, the Talento cabin is still a nice place to be.

There’s plenty of storage around the cabin – up to 90 litres, in fact – and there’s an optional ‘office’ facility if you order a fold-down passenger seat that converts into a table.

The seven-inch touchscreen operated sat-nav infotainment system on top-spec models is a nice feature to have, and you can use it to mirror your smartphone functions as well as navigate. There’s nothing like the Peugeot/Citroen’s head-up display or speed limit assistance though, although opting for an SX model upgrades the stereo and brings extra comfort features like automated wipers and lights, as well as a leather trimmed steering wheel.

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