03 November 2011 by Parkers Team

  • Maxi version offers load area of 4.2 cubic metres
  • Returns 50mpg and emits 148gkm of CO2 
  • Priced at £16,595 on-the-road, available now

The long wheelbase Fiat Doblo Cargo is all things to all men: it’s got a sizeable load area, it’s comfortable, it’s good to drive with a strong engine and it’s enormously practical.

This week we tested the Cargo Maxi (long wheelbase) version with the 2.0-litre 16-valve Multijet diesel engine in SX trim. The Maxi has 35cm extra length which means it boasts capacious interior space and load volume – 4.2 cubic metres - which is more than the equivalent Citroen Berlingo and Ford Transit Connect. it can take a payload of 1,000kg.

To drive it’s extremely capable and after a while you tend to forget that you are driving a van rather than the car. It’s extremely nimble around town and the 2.0-litre engine offers a surprisingly linear power delivery. Unlike many other diesels this is extremely usable even though the 320Nm of maximum torque kicks in at 1,500rpm – it feels just right, particularly around town.

Visibility is good: the raised driving position and the sizeable mirrors certainly help when you are reversing although the extra length means parking in tight spots is a no-no.

Inside it’s practical and robust with plenty of storage areas for phones, water bottles newspapers and other frippery. There is an overhead storage area but it’s not the easiest to access. You can store a half-litre bottle of water and an A4-sized folder in there and the lockable glovebox is big enough to take a 14-inch laptop computer.

There is also a storage tray under the front passenger seat with a flip-up compartment in the seat base.

The 135bhp Euro 5 engine is reasonably frugal. Official stats suggest that you should get around 50mpg, but expect that to dip to around 43-44mpg when you are driving around town. The stop/start function is pretty seamless though and it has helped to keep fuel consumption and CO2 emissions down.

Our van had a six speed gearbox, which is a Godsend when you are cruising on the motorway, giving refined and relaxed driving, but you sometimes get some disconcerting wind noise around the top of the windows every now and then. A sophisticated suspension set-up means the Doblo Cargo can deal with heavy loads without compromising the ride and handling - there is some body roll but the ride is fairly smooth.

The Doblo Cargo is also available as a Combi meaning it can seat up to five people as well as taking a load of 205kg in the short wheelbase version and 450kg in the long wheelbase model.

Throughout the Cargo range, equipment is fairly generous. All models offer power steering, optimal gearshift indicator, central locking, electric front windows, steering height adjustment, passenger seat unde tray, ABS, a CD stereo and a driver's airbag.

Standard equipment on the SX includes 16-inch wheels with wheel trims, PVC load lining (optional on the standard Cargo) and remote central locking, but our test van included a range of optional extras: air-conditioning (£595), cruise control (£135), metallic paint (£245), Fiat’s Blue and Me infotainment pack - not particularly user-friendly – for £445 and the very useful parking sensors that’ll set you back £185.

A driver’s airbag is standard but passenger and curtain airbags are available as options - as is stability control, which comes with a hill-hold function.

Also consider:

Citroen Berlingo
Comfortable, roomy cabin with a handy collapsible passenger seat to increase payload length

Ford Transit Connect
One of the most capable small vans available, whether a fleet operator or owner-driver 

Peugeot Partner
Versatile model line-up (buyers have the pick of three engines, three payloads and two body lengths) and competitive list prices