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Fiat Ducato MY20 – big van gets big update for 2019

  • New engines and nine-speed auto option with up 450Nm
  • Autonomous emergency braking and other new safety kit
  • Renews Ducato’s appeal to business and motorhome buyers

The Fiat Ducato has always been difficult to ignore in the large van sector, thanks to its class-leading payload and fuel economy capability, but more recent rivals have left it behind in terms of technology and driving experience.

This MY20 update, on sale in 2019 priced from £24,670 (ex VAT), looks set to redress that balance, as the Ducato gets boosted with a new range of engines, a new nine-speed automatic gearbox option and new active safety features.

In addition to this, Fiat has subsequently announced an electric version of the Ducato will join the range in 2020.

What’s new for the MY20 Fiat Ducato?

MY20 stands for Model Year 2020, but since this refresh is available to order now, really this is a 2019 facelift for the Ducato – not that it looks massively difference.

2019 Fiat Ducato MY20 - front view, silver, parked on dock

Key features on the outside are the titanium grille frame and the black headlamp bezels, as well as the usual extensive amount of unpainted plastic, designed to protect expensive components such as lights from minor bumps and be cheap to replace.

The major changes here are really under the skin, though. The Ducato has a new all 2.3-litre engine line-up, ditching the entry-level 2.0-litre motor in the process – a move that meets the latest Euro 6D Temp emissions regulations and likely places a greater emphasis on real-world fuel economy rather than on-paper figures.

Perhaps more significant still, Fiat is offering some versions of the 2019 Ducato with a new nine-speed automatic transmission.

A proper torque-converter gearbox, rather than the unpleasant robotised-manual that is the previous ‘Comfort-Matic’, this will no doubt be a big hit with commercial operators and those using the Ducato as a base for a motorhome or campervan.

What’s more, the Ducato has gone from having very limited active safety equipment to now being available with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and rear cross-traffic alert.

What’s new about the engines for the 2019 Fiat Ducato?

Previously available with 2.0-litre and 2.3-litre engines, the MY20 Ducato has switched to 2.3-litre engines only with a choice of the following four outputs:

  • 120hp / 320Nm – manual gearbox only, but with 10% more torque than the 2.0-litre it replaces
  • 140hp / 350Nm – manual or automatic, 9% more torque than the 130hp 2.3-litre engine it replaces
  • 160hp / 380Nm manual gearbox or 400Nm automatic gearbox
  • 180hp / 400Nm manual gearbox or 450Nm automatic gearbox – automatic has 12% more torque than before

Badged MutliJet II, these engines all meet the latest Euro 6D Temp emissions regulations, which come into force for vans in September 2019.

The main innovation here is the switch to a variable geometry turbocharger, which is said to improve response, smoothness and fuel economy. We’ve already driven Iveco’s version of this motor in the 2019 Daily, and it certainly seems impressive – and should appeal to operators concerned about the torque performance of rivals, almost all of which now rely on 2.0-litre engines.

And indeed, the range-topping 180hp automatic’s 450Nm is considerably more muscle than any equivalent competitor can offer.

Any details about the nine-speed automatic?

This new auto gearbox is said to have best-in-class weight, and is only the second nine-speed option in the large van class after the Mercedes Sprinter introduced one for front-wheel drive models in 2018.

2019 Fiat Ducato MY20 - front view, silver, driving into warehouse

The transmission has Normal, Eco and Power modes, so you can tailor the way it works to the type of driving you’re doing – a process that should theoretically optimise fuel consumption.

It also comes with Drive and Autostick settings – the latter a manual mode intended to give the driver more control in tricky situations, such as mountain roads.

Regardless of gearbox, all MY20 Ducatos are fitted with an EcoPack that includes stop-start technology, a smart alternator and an electronically controlled fuel pump. Again, all of this is designed to optimise mpg.

Why is the new nine-speed auto so important for the Ducato?

Automatic transmissions are increasingly sought-after in vans, thanks to their improved ease of use and reduced maintenance costs (no premature clutch wear due to clumsy driving).

The previous Ducato auto wasn’t a very pleasant thing, so to go from that to potentially one of the best on the market is a big deal

Especially for a van that has traditionally done extremely well with motorhome and camper buyers, but has recently begun losing ground to newer vans such as the Volkswagen Crafter – a situation due in no small part to the Crafter’s eight-speed automatic option.

What safety kit and technology can you get on the new Ducato?

Here’s the full line-up of available safety kit for MY20:

  • Blind spot assist
  • Rear cross path detection – Fiat’s name for cross traffic alert
  • Full brake control – Fiat’s name for autonomous emergency braking
  • Lane departure warning system
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • High beam recognition – Fiat’s name for automatic high-beam assist
  • Automatic lights and wipers
  • Tyre pressure monitoring

We’re waiting on the full pricelist to find out how much of this is standard; we suspect most will be extra, despite Volkswagen’s move to make AEB standard across its UK van range in 2017.

Other interesting bits of tech include the ability to set the minimum idle speed to ensure there’s enough power any additional on-board electric equipment, plus a new LED lighting package for the load area, significantly improving visibility.

2019 Fiat Ducato MY20 - three vans in front of cityscape sunset

Finally, in September 2019 a new 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system will become available, featuring DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a built-in sat-nav system that allows you to enter the dimensions of the vehicle to ensure it doesn’t direct you down a road too narrow to pass.

Handy for both van and motorhome drivers, no doubt.

This is a whole lot of good news – anything to worry about here?

The only issue is the same one the Ducato already has – which is its age.

While this is a comprehensive upgrade, make no mistake, not only has this basic Ducato been on sale since 2011, it’s based on a PSA Peugeot-Citroen van platform that dates back to 2006.

How much the updates will compensate for this we’ll find out when we drive the MY20 version in a couple of weeks.

How much is the 2019 Fiat Ducato and when does it go on sale?

It’s available to order now, with prices starting from £24,670 for a 120hp model.

Look out for the full review very soon.

Also read:

>> Fiat Ducato Electric set for pre-orders in 2019

>> Fiat Ducato (2011-on) full review

>> Best large vans

>> New vans coming soon