Fleet News

Mini test: Iveco Daily 29L10 HPI

IVECO is a well-known maker of big tough trucks, so it is hardly surprising that when the firm decides to build a 'small' van of three tonnes gross vehicle weight, that van is bigger and tougher than the rest.

The first thing that will hit any newcomer to the Daily range is its Tonka toy proportions – everything seems massively engineered and built to last a lifetime.

So while the local florist or baker probably won't be interested, fleets with big loads and high mileages on the agenda certainly will. And Iveco doesn't have a problem with that state of affairs.

The vehicle on test here – the 29L10 HPI – is about as small as they come in Iveco land, boasting a gross vehicle weight of 3.2 tonnes, payload of 1,220kg, load volume of 7.3 cubic metres and a 2.3-litre turbodiesel powerplant offering 96bhp at 2,800rpm and 177lb-ft of torque at 2,800rpm. Basic price without the added extras is £15,170 ex-VAT, comparing well against the rivals, bearing in mind the solidity of the vehicle.

Outside, the Daily's flanks are totally encased in huge plastic mouldings, meaning the vehicle should remain blissfully scrape-free during its fleet life. Our test model lacked the remote plip locking facility, which I'd say is a must as it's all too easy to accidentally leave a door open.

In the front

Climbing aboard, everything about this van's cab screams heavy truck. The seating position is high, the seats hard, upright and supportive and the steering wheel is almost horizontal.

Meanwhile the dash, which looks like something hewn from the side of a mountain, curves round the driver and contains all the knobs and switches.

The heating and ventilation system is nice and easy to operate and there are plenty of cubby holes all round, including a mobile phone slot and two-litre cola bottle bins in each door, although the passenger one is tucked so far under the seat that you have to open the door to remove the blessed nectar. A locking glovebox opens to reveal drink cup holders.

Many vans have very sub-standard passenger benches but the Daily's are almost as good as the driver's seat, although lacking the height and rake adjustments.

Meanwhile, there is a grab rail in the centre of the roof for the third passenger if the going gets rough.

The radio/cassette player comes with a removable front, although I'd have to question whether or not anyone actually bothers to steal cassette players nowadays.

Our test van came with optional electric windows at £145, air conditioning at £680 and ABS/EBS at £560 (all prices ex-VAT). My only real complaint cabwise is the lack of a standard driver's airbag. Iveco is one of many manufacturers who still charge for this basic safety device which now comes as standard on all cars. It costs £200 ex-VAT and should be specified by any caring fleet operator.

In the back

THE Daily features a standard full bulkhead and the usual sliding side door. Rear doors open only to 180 degrees but there is a big step at the rear to aid loading. Our test van was weighed down with a half load of water bottles, which is the ideal balance for testing purposes. That way, the van doesn't bounce around too much and any lack of power will show up.

On the road

THE 2.3-litre unit is a new one for this year and comes in a choice of 96bhp or 116bhp formats. Our version may have been the lower-powered one but there was no lack of oomph here, despite the half load on board.

The engine fires up with a meaty growl and with power steering weighted slightly on the heavy side to give a good feel of what's going on between road and tyres, the driving experience is very much that of a much bigger vehicle.

The gearshift is floor-mounted but is a short throw affair sitting on top of a tall pedestal. From a passenger point of view, the shift may seem awkward as it makes an audible clunk when changing, but in fact there is no feeling of notchiness for the driver.

Iveco claims to have lowered noise in the cab by 40% over the old model and it certainly shows – driver and passengers can converse in normal tones at motorway speeds.

Verdict

IVECO has been making big inroads into the panel van sector of late, building up an awesome reputation for solidity, reliability and downright chunkiness. Fleets looking for a massively-built performer capable of a lot of hard work should certainly look in this direction.

Fact file
2.3 2.3
Power (bhp/rpm): 96/2,800-3,900 116/3,100-3,900
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 177/1,800-2,800 199/1,800-2,800
Sample prices (ex-VAT): panel vans – 29L10 £15,170, 35S12 £19,500, 35C12 £20,100. Chassis cabs – 29L10 £15,470, 35S12 £17,650, 35C12 £18,250. Combi MPV £24,050, CNG 35S11G van £23,100
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