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The Iveco Daily is the Mike Tyson of the van world, noticeably stronger and tougher than the opposition. Sitting on a ladder frame chassis, the Daily is a big truck scaled down rather than a smaller van scaled up. Florists, bakers and the like might as well look elsewhere as this van is best at home thundering up and down the highways of Britain laden down to the gills with cargo. Gross vehicle weights range from 2.8 tonnes right up to 6.5 tonnes. Models some in L, S and C classes – L for 2.8-3.2 tonners, S for 3.5 tonners and C for 3.5-6.5 tonners. All come swathed in plastic round the bottom end and all come with a massive slablike dashboard. Iveco used to have a complicated ownership tie-up between Ford and Fiat but the firm is now totally in the hands of the Italian manufacturer, although sales and servicing have to be carried out at Iveco dealers – there is no cross-over between Fiat and Iveco at present.
Climb aboard the Daily and nervous drivers will be forgiven for feeling a little worried – you could for all the world be sitting behind the wheel of a 40-tonne truck. The dashboard is a massive slab which curves round the driver in a truck-like way so all the instruments are pointing towards him. Everything has that chunky, made-to-last feel and the knobs and switches are all of Tonka-toy proportions. The driver's seat has to be one of the best in the business. It's hard and upright and adjusts in all directions and is wonderfully supportive on long trips. A radio/cassette player comes as standard and has a detachable front but otherwise, standard goodies are pretty scarce. Items such as air-conditioning, sat-nav and electric windows are on the huge list of options, but all have to be paid for, so it's worth checking the exact specification before making a purchasing decision.
The Daily is the best protected van on the roads with its massive side rubbing strips and plastic bumpers front and aft, so annoying little scrapes should be few and far between. It behaves more like a small truck on the roads but is by no means a difficult vehicle to handle. Pre-2005, engines on offer were all 2.8-litres and had power outputs of 90bhp, 105bhp and 125bhp but newer models had 2.3-litre and 3.0-litre engines mated to a new six-speed gearbox, with power outputs up to a stonking 166bhp, making it one of the most powerful vans on the road. There is also a semi-automatic AGile option which cost £700 more than the manual models and in our opinion isn’t worth the extra cash. The older engines fired up with a mighty roar – which we rather like – but the gearlever is not the smoothest in the sector, with a rather notchy feel which demands slow changes. But even the lower powered models feel lusty and at 70mph, settle down to a quiet thrum. 2005 models are noticeably quieter.