The Fiat Ducato has been totally revised in 2007, but the old generation received the same amount of respect as the new model.
The old Fiat Ducato shared the same underpinnings with the Citroen Relay and Peugeot Boxer and it was even produced at the same factory with its siblings. Though despite their strong bound there were small differences between these three models as they came with slightly different prices and specifications.
The vehicle was sold between 1994 and 2006 and was offered with a choice of two engines which consisted of 2.2 liter and 2.8 liter units. There were also numerous versions available with payload capacities ranging from 945 kg to 1505 kg.
Only in the latest years we’ve started to see attractive exterior designs in the big panel van segment, but not long ago this type of vehicles were “cursed” with an inexpressive and dull appearance.
Unfortunately the old Fiat Ducato made no exception from this rule and looked pretty similar with its competitors, featuring a conventional design that didn’t inspire too much admiration from nobody.
The overall design was characterized by a huge boxy body combined with a pretty short nose and a raked bonnet. The windshield was also slightly raked and almost followed the same angle of the bonnet.
The headlights had a simple, rectangular design and flanked the small radiator grille. The rudimentary design was also enhanced by the black wraparound bumper that was fitted with two circular fog lamps and a big air intake split in three sections.
On the other hand, despite its basic design, the old Fiat Ducato was a very practical work horse and was available in a wide range of body styles with short, medium or long wheel bases and standard, high, and extra high roof versions.
While the exterior design was far from producing any feelings of admiration, the interior ambiance was surprisingly good for its time. It’s true that the dashboard won’t win you any beauty awards but it is very practical and it’s fitted with all sorts of cubby holes and storage places.
The plastics are what they are, but this was the usual “hard rock” treatment found in this type of vehicles. The build quality was also part of the third class and the new model is definitely two steps ahead at this chapter.
Needless to say that space isn’t a problem and both the driver and the other two passengers from the front row of seats are treated with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room .
We also like the clear meter cluster which can be easy to read and didn’t catch any annoying sun reflections, like other vehicles found in this segment.
The old age of the Ducato left its dusty fingerprints on the dated steering wheel which looks pretty ancient and isn’t the most comfortable unit you’ll find around. At least it can be adjusted for height, thus improving the overall comfort.
The seats offer decent back and under thigh support and are quite comfortable even for longer journeys.
You won’t have any major complains about the all around visibility either thanks to the panoramic windscreen and the generous lateral windows. We also like the dash mounted gear knob which is fairly easy to use and has an ergonomic design.
Engines and performance
The Fiat Ducato was available with 2.2 liters and 2.8 liters that come with 104 hp and 127 hp, respectively. The 2.2 liter engine was pretty lazy especially when it needed to deal with bigger payloads. On the other hand it wasn’t a bad performer around town and managed to keep it up with traffic pretty good.
Naturally, the 2.8 liter engine is more capable and offers a peak torque of 300 Nm which is more than enough to deal effortless with anything you’ll throw at it. It is also pretty smooth and refined coping great with both city and motorway traffic.
Fiat Ducato Engines Specifications
| Engine || Hp @ rpm || Nm @ rpm |
| 2.2 || 104 @ 4000 || 240 @ 1900 |
| 2.8 || 127 @ 3600 || 300 @ 1800 |
Ride and handling
The Fiat Ducato was equipped with independent front McPherson struts and rear leaf springs. Given its heft and size, the Fiat Ducato offers a well balanced ride which is at par with what you’ll usually find in this segment.
Handling wasn’t as worse as expected and the vehicle had a pretty good balance being among the best in its class. The body roll was pretty small and didn’t affect the good overall road manners. The steering was also well weighted offering a decent road feedback and accurate turns.
Unfortunately, the Fiat Ducato didn’t offer standard driver’s airbag or ABS brakes until 2002, but at least they were available as an option.
The Fiat Ducato was a reliable and capable van. The vehicle was available in a wide range of versions which help it to be the perfect choice for various commercial applications. The load area was also fairly generous and we liked the spacious and ergonomic interior. The plastics and build quality weren’t at the same level with models form the Volkswagen or Mercedes brands, but they were a good match for the utilitarian nature of the vehicle.
The engines were smooth and reliable and offered a decent balance between performance and efficiency. At the ride and handling chapter the Fiat Ducato received good marks as well, and had the potential to compete with the best models in this class.