Fleet News

Fiat Ulysse 2.2 JTD Prestigio - 2,262 miles

Fiat

Review

THERE is always a ripple of delight around the office when staff hear that a new large MPV is making its way to Fleet Towers as a long term test car.

While the staff in question know they will not have to put up with the compromises of driving a vehicle one size down from a minibus day-in day-out for three years, they also know that if they put a request in early with yours truly, there's a good chance they can take full advantage of the vehicle's practicality and flexibility. This particularly applies as summer approaches.

This time the vehicle in question is a Fiat Ulysse, the almost silent partner in the tie-up between PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Fiat Auto that has spawned a family of MPVs sharing the same DNA.

We have heard all about the Citroen C8 and Peugeot 807 over the past few months, but little about the Fiat Ulysse, which is built on the same production line and shares engines, transmissions and interior design.

Some might argue that the Fiat's front-end styling is smarter than the flamboyant curves of the French pair, but it's all a matter of personal taste and I'm sure there will be many who prefer the appearance of one of the others.

Despite sharing the vast majority of components with both the C8 and 807, Fiat's unique selling point with the Ulysse is better value. There are more gadgets for the money, and in list price terms, the Ulysse is lower than its French counterparts. This might be a factor which nets it a few sales at the expense of the others, in a sector which has traditionally been 70% fleet and 30% retail.

Our top-of the-range Prestigio model has six individual seats, leather trim with electrically adjustable and heated front seats, automatic folding mirrors, rear sunblinds, aircraft-style folding trays, chilled centre console compartment, dual-zone climate control, airbags galore, a six-CD autochanger and CONNECT NAV+.

Options featured on our car include metallic paint, extra sunroofs, headlight washers and electric sliding rear doors, with the result that the car ends up at more than £26,000.

The car was delivered with 1,800 miles on the clock, so it's still early days but over the last week or so we have struggled to reach the official combined fuel consumption figure of 38.2mpg, registering only 31.5mpg. But I'm sure things will improve over time.

The 2.2-litre common rail turbodiesel, producing 128bhp, sounds particularly noisy when cold but this is in line with other vehicles we have driven using this shared platform.

However, the engine is keen and gets into its stride at about 1,500rpm, and after a few minutes the clatter subsides. During my brief time in the Ulysse it has never carried more than two people, but over the next six months its carrying ability is expected to be tested to the full. Simon Harris

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (40% taxpayer): £210.17 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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