2012 Fiat Ducato

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The new Fiat Ducato shares the same design with Peugeot Boxer and Citroen Relay. Between the three models however, there are a few minor differences when it comes to specifications and price.

Since its first introduction the Ducato has prove to be a surprisingly success for Fiat and it was sold in nice numbers. The current market response isn’t bad either, as the vehicle is very practical and has a versatile nature being available in van and chassis cab versions with both single and double cab configurations. With a starting price of $22.000 the Fiat Ducato is also among the cheapest options available in its segment and offers a good value for money.

Design

Fiat Ducato

Unlike other vans in the segment, the Ducato looks pretty distinctive thanks to its high placed headlights which make it stand out from the crowd. Apart from that, the vehicle has the same boxy design which is typical for this segment.

However, Fiat tried to spice things up a little by adding a chromed border for the relatively small radiator grille. The grille is integrated into the massive black bumper which is also fitted with two lateral air intakes and two small fog lamps.

The vehicle received a generous windshield and similarly big door windows for a proper view of the road. The Fiat Ducato is available with three wheelbases and four gross vehicle weights of 2.5, 2.9, 3.3 and 3.5 tonnes.

Interior

Fiat Ducato

The interiors look pretty similar with the old Ducato with a modular design and a similarly dash-mounted gear lever. A closer look however, reveals a lot of modern design elements which make the new cabin look much better than the old one. Unsurprisingly, the plastics are part of the third class with a rock hard texture. The build quality however, is fairly good and looks durable.

The dashboard features an ergonomic design and is equipped with an integrated radio/CD player with MP3 compatibility as standard. The air vents, gear lever and ventilation controls feature a nice chromed pattern which enhances the modern feel of the cabin.

Every button can be reached without too many efforts and the controls for the sound system are mounted high up on the dashboard so they can be easily reached by both the driver and passenger. For enhanced comfort, the audio system can be also controlled by means of a few convenient buttons mounted on the multifunctional steering wheel. Talking about steering wheel, it is a bit dated for our tastes, but luckily it feels pretty good to hold and also comes with both tilt and telescoping adjustments.

As we are sitting in a commercial vehicle, don’t expect to any sporty seats and except for a very poor lateral support you won’t get any special cushioning. On the other hand, the driver’s seat comes with adjustable seat back, height and reach that give you 200mm of travel. The driving position is pretty high and you have a commanding view of the road with a superb all-round visibility.

The Ducato also comes with a plethora of storage compartments, cubby holes, drawers and support surfaces which offer an enhanced comfort.

The option list includes features like cruise control, parking sensors, rain & dusk sensors and climate control systems with manual or sunlight sensitive automatic settings.

Engines and transmissions

Fiat Ducato

Similarly with its two brothers from Peugeot and Citroen, the Ducato also comes with a choice of three basic diesel engines, but unlike its siblings the engines are more powerful and meet the Euro 5 emission standards. The new 2.3-liter engine develops 110 hp, 130 hp and 148 hp. Additionally, the Ducato is also offered with a 3.0-liter diesel that develops 177 hp and 400 Nm (295 lb-ft) of torque.

All engines are combined with a six speed manual gearbox, while the 3.0 litre unit can be mated on a six-speed Comfort-Matic manual automated transmission which comes without a clutch pedal.

The new engines use the latest generation of Fiat Powertrain Technology’s MultiJet to achieve better economy and lower emissions. All engines have four cylinders in line, with four valves per cylinder and double overhead camshafts. The new 2.3-litre unit features an aluminium alloy cylinder head on a cast iron block and uses a fixed geometry turbocharger with an intercooler.

The most powerful engine in the Ducato range is the 3-litre 180 MultiJet Power unit which develops 177bhp at 3500rpm with a healthy torque of 400Nm available from 1400rpm which also makes it the most powerful engine in its segment.

Fiat Ducato Engines specifications

Enginehp@rpmNm@rpm
Multijet 115115@3700280 @1500
Multijet 130130@3600320@1800
Multijet 150148@3600350@1500
Multijet 180177@3500400@1400

Ride and handling

Fiat Ducato

The Fiat Ducato comes with MacPherson wishbone front suspensions with anti-roll bars and shock absorbers, while at the back it features double leaf, single leaf or pneumatic suspensions. When equipped with the pneumatic suspension the vehicle’s height is maintained at the same level under all load conditions thus offering a safe ride for fragile loads. The ride is at par with its competitors as the suspensions are able to soak the bumps without too much drama.

The power steering is also adequate and offers a good road feedback. On the other hand the NVH levels aren’t as smooth as the ones from the Ford Transit or Mercedes Sprinter and the body roll is also slightly bigger.

Verdict

Fiat Ducato

The Fiat Ducato is a capable commercial vehicle which can stack up against its similarly spec’d rivals without any problems. Its new range of engines is fairly strong and efficient, and can deal with big loads almost effortless. Moreover, the 3.0 unit is the strongest engine in the segment, while the ride and handling aren’t too bad either. The cabin is also fairly spacious and even if it doesn’t have the best build quality in its class it looks like it was built to last.

Video: Fiat Ducato


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