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First drive: Fiat Doblo Maxi Cargo

  • New long wheelbase van tested
  • Comfortable on longer journeys
  • Cabin is spacious and functional

The Fiat Doblo Maxi Cargo is the Italian firm's answer to the Peugeot Expert and Renault Trafic.

A highly-acclaimed van, the Doblo has won awards and found favour with the motoring press since its update in 2010. We've given the ‘maxi' - or long wheel base - derivative a test so how does it fare?

Driving long distances is a comfortable experience in the Doblo. The driver's seat is comfortable and gets an armrest for the driver's left elbow for long journeys - you'll want to move it while parking and manoeuvring as your arm will foul the handbrake.

Although it lacks some kit which could make life a lot easier (parking sensors would have been a welcome addition with the panelled bulkhead in the Maxi) the interior trim is of a high quality.

There's a huge amount of room in the cabin and every bit of spare space has been turned into a cubby or a way to store things. The materials used are tough and hard-wearing too. There's also an element of Italian style in the design of the cockpit, reflected in the colour contours of the dash and the colour schemes on offer.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine is not only quick - with 135bhp - but it's also Euro 5 compliant, largely thanks to a stop/start system and diesel particulate filter. All this means 50.4mpg combined and 148g/km CO2 emissions.

The ‘Maxi' moniker refers to a slightly longer wheelbase, bringing the overall length to 4,740mm (as opposed to 4,390 for the normal Doblo Cargo).

The payload for the Maxi is 1,000kg, whereas the equivalent Expert has 1113kg and the Trafic LWB has 1236kg. The near- and off-side sliding doors and twin-opening rear doors mean the rear loading area is easily accessible.

Prices for the Doblo Maxi Cargo start at £19,910.