While Piaggio is mostly known for its three wheelers and scooters, the company also builds a small light commercial vehicle named the Piaggio. The Piaggio is a versatile micro-van that was engineered to go against models like the Suzuki Carry or DFSK Loadhopper and features a bulky design combined with a pretty spacious interior.
The small truck is available as a panel van, chassis cab, tipper, MPV, top-deck and pickup and is powered by a 1300 cc petrol engine which develops 65 hp. The Piaggio Porter has a payload capacity between 560 kg – 1120 kg and comes with two wheelbase lengths measuring 1810 mm and 2180 mm.
The Piaggio Porter shares the same technologies with the Daihatsu Hijet and they also have a pretty similar design. As most micro trucks the exterior design of the Piaggio Porter isn’t something to rave about, as it looks pretty rudimentary.
The front features a rounded shape combined with a big windscreen and an almost vertical bonnet. The grille is very simple too and doesn’t have any modern lines to stand out from the crowd.
The rectangular headlights feature the same rudimentary design line as the rest of the body and have a dated shape. The good part is that they cope well with the rest of the design and don’t look out of place.
Viewed from the side, the van version of the Piaggio Porter looks pretty hilarious, due to its tall stance combined with the small wheels which look out of proportions. On each side, the vehicle is fitted with sliding doors which come with a wide opening. Around the back, there is also a roof hinged tailgate which offers easy access to the load area.
The Piaggio Porter measures 1,395mm wide and 3,370mm long, being shorter and narrower than the Ford Fiesta van, but despite its relatively compact dimensions it has a pretty generous load capacity.
When compared to models like the DFSK Loadhopper or Suzuki Carry, the Porter’s interior looks surprisingly good. The Italian micro truck also offers a pretty big amount of space and both the driver and passenger have proper leg- and head-room.
The Plastics are also better than what you’ll find in the Suzuki Carry and everything looks like it’s ready to endure harsh working conditions without backing down.
Despite its compact dimensions, the dashboard features an ergonomic design. As it was expected, everything inside is designed at a small scale, so you are treated with a small instrument cluster, tiny air vents, a shy gear knob and also a pretty compact steering wheel.
Talking about the steering wheel, it features a pretty ergonomic design and it is flatly-mounted, making you feel like driving a bigger truck.
The seats are a bit cramped, but they are much better than other vehicles in the class. They also come with a few adjustments to help you find a proper driving position.
The driver sits in front of the axle, so some of people could feel a bit exposed. On the other hand, this position offers a great road visibility which is also enhanced by the generous windscreen and the big lateral windows.
Sadly, the storage places are limited to a glove box, a big in dash cubby hole and a small door pocket mounted into the driver door panel.
Engines and performance
The Piaggio Porter is powered by a 1300 cc indirect multipoint injection engine which develops 65 hp @ 4300 rpm, while the maximum torque of 140 Nm is available from 1800 rpm and up to 2800 rpm. The engine is married to a five speed manual gearbox which sends power to the rear wheels. The transmission feels a bit clunky, but overall is pretty smooth and responsive, dealing well with the necessities of the urban driving.
Given the utilitarian nature of the truck, the engine is also up to the task and offers a satisfactory acceleration with a decent amount of punch. It also likes to be reeved but if you push it harder it will show its limitations.
Despite its small power, the engine can hit a top speed of up to 130 kmph, while the average fuel consumption is also pretty good, scoring 8.3 liters/100km.
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Ride and handling
The Piaggio Porter has a very small turning circle which means you won’t need to worry about the narrow city streets. Due to its compact dimensions, the truck can be maneuvered with ease in surprisingly tight traffic situations and can be parked almost anywhere.
Unlike its rivals who had some problems at the handling chapter, the Piaggio Porter handles surprisingly well for its size and height. The body roll is perfectly kept in check, while the middle engine emplacement keeps the center of gravity to as low as possible, thus enhancing the truck stability.
As you sit directly on the front axle, the driving experience is pretty strange, but you’ll get used to it pretty fast. The biggest fault of the Piaggio porter is its unassisted rack and pinion steering which is pretty heavy, especially at low speeds.
As we’ve mentioned in the intro, the Piaggio Porter competes against models like the DFSK Loadhopper and Suzuki Carry . But despite the fact that it shares almost the same size as its rivals, the Porter offers a more comfortable cabin and a better build quality. Apart from its interiors, the main advantage of the Piaggio Porter is the handling, as it has surprisingly good road manners for a micro truck. The engine however, is at par with competition, while the performances aren’t something to rave about either.