Fleet News

New launch: Iveco Daily

WITH a stylish new look and host of underbody innovations, there are now even more reasons for fleet operators to choose the Iveco Daily.

IVECO has been quietly building up an awesome reputation for strength and reliability over the past 10 years, to the extent that the Daily van is now the number one seller in western Europe in the 3.5-tonne gross vehicle weight sector.

Now the Italian van and truck maker has upped its efforts a notch with the launch of the new Daily, which gets fresh looks inside and out, a set of new engines and various other improvements.

To confirm its commitment to achieving a greater market share, Iveco – which incidentally stands for Industrial VEhicle COrporation in case you didn’t know – has invested €250 million in the new van and even brought in world-famous designer Giorgetto Giugiaro to create its looks.

According to the Daily’s press blurb (this stuff is always worth quoting as it’s usually priceless!): ‘The new Daily is ahead of its time – it goes beyond the concept of ‘attractive and functional’ to become a defining feature of one’s business. It is no longer simply a work tool, it is also a calling card which helps convey the values and philosophy of one’s business.’

Blimey!

Joking apart, Giugiaro has made a wonderful job of transforming the van. The old Daily was by no means a bad looker but the new model boasts a raised bumper, stylish grille and headlights, and lots of attractive creases and folds which bring it bang up to date.

Colour-coded bumpers will also be available which look smart but we couldn’t recommend them for fleet purposes, what with white van man’s propensity for scraping his vehicle along numerous surfaces.

On the sides, you certainly won’t miss the massive new split wing mirrors – they are the size of dinner plates and add to the Daily’s safety specification. They even include flashing indicator lights.

At the back, there is a high-level spoiler incorporating a third brake light and air vents and the light clusters are new too. Double 270 degree doors are standard, together with a hefty step. Beware the car that runs into the back of this van.

In the cab, we find things totally changed. Giugiaro has once again weaved his magic. Gone is that old dash that looks like something hewn from a slab of oak and in comes an item that is softer and more stylish and user-friendly.

The gearchange migrates from floor to dash (the last heavy panel van to do this) and the handbrake is shorter and has a lighter action.

A CD player and ABS brakes come as standard but a major disappointment was the news that a driver’s airbag is only standard on higher-powered models. For smaller Dailys you have to cough up £200 plus VAT for this basic necessity. Passenger and window bags also feature on the options list.

Iveco is also offering adaptive ESP traction control, as found in the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, as a £260 option (the Merc by the way, has that feature included as standard), together with sat-nav at £900, electric windows at £70 and Iveco’s AGile automatic gearbox at £690.

Other standard fittings include a full steel bulkhead, xenon foglights, remote central locking and an independently lockable load area. Under the bonnet, all engines are now Euro IV-compliant and two four-cylinder versions are available: a 2.3-litre unit offering 96bhp, 116bhp and 136bhp and a 3.0-litre unit with 146bhp and 174bhp. This latter engine is beaten on power only by the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter which has a 184bhp powerplant on offer.

Panel vans and chassis cabs will be on offer from launch and there will be Iveco’s various niche models up and coming such as minibuses and ambulances – in fact, 3,000 different models will be on the price lists. Wait also for a stonking jacked-up 4x4 version which could reach these shores by the end of the year.

Three classes are on offer – L, S and C offering the usual mix and match of wheelbases and roof heights.

Gross vehicle weights range from 2.8-tonnes to 6.5-tonnes and payloads go from 1,210kg to 3,640kgs. Load volumes are between 7.3 cubic metres and 17.2 cubic metres.

Prices start from £16,400 ex-VAT.

On the road

BEFORE I start my appraisal of the new Daily, let’s get one thing out of the way. In my view, omitting a driver’s airbag from the standard spec sheet across the whole range of a new van in the year 2006 is unacceptable.

Every car on sale in the UK, right down to the Perodua Kelisa at £4,837, has a driver’s airbag and vans should all have them too. I’ll now climb down off my soapbox and get on with it.

I like the looks of the new Daily – in fact I like them a lot. Giugiaro has managed in his redesign to give this vehicle a commanding presence on the roads, while also having a pleasing look to the eye.

At the same time the whole bottom of the vehicle is swathed in plastic, which means annoying knocks and scrapes should be capable of being fixed cheaply. It’s amazing how many vans on the roads today don’t have this.

The transformation in the cab is complete. That hefty old dash has been consigned to the great parts bin in the sky and the new one is both functional and stylish.

There was nothing wrong with the old driver’s seat in the Daily but the new one is even better.

Several different ones are available including an air-sprung variety that’s a driver’s dream come true.

On the downside, there is no adjustment available on the steering wheel. It didn’t cause me a problem on my test drive but it would have been nice to have, even just to tinker around with.

It’s good to see Iveco has ditched that mouldy old radio/cassette player at last in favour of a CD player.

Cabin comfort items include various cubby holes, coat hooks on each side and a grab handle on the passenger side and in the roof. But, the cola bins in each door are rather diminutive and white van man will have to push very hard to get his two-litre comforter in.

The interior rear end of the Daily hasn’t changed. It’s big and square and will suit the van operator as well as it did when the van first appeared in 1978.

On our test drive in Turin, we were able to sample most of the engine options in the range. First up was the long wheelbase chassis-cab with the 3.0-litre 146bhp engine – and what a smoothie it turned out to be. With a full load on board, the truck simply sailed up and down the foothills of the Alps and my co-pilot and I conversed in normal voices, highlighting how quiet the Daily’s cab is.

The dash-mounted gearstick proved slick and sure although I was to discover later that the five-cog version in the lower powered Daily was even smoother.

At the first stopping point we swapped for the even more powerful 174bhp engine in a long wheelbase panel van.

It didn’t feel hugely more powerful than the first vehicle but after a few experiments in which we dropped the speed right down and left the van in sixth we realised just how immense the pulling power of this engine really was. We hardly needed to knock it down out of top gear on the whole section.

Thirdly was the 96bhp short wheelbase panel van and even here at its lowest power, the Daily still managed to feel lively. For fleets which don’t have long distances to travel, this vehicle would surely suffice. The biggest fleet seller is likely to be the 116bhp, but unfortunately this version wasn’t available on the day.

Verdict

AT every new launch us journos have more and more of a problem sorting out which van comes where in the fleet pecking order.

With its huge truck-like ladder frame chassis, the Daily is never going to appeal to the local butcher and baker, but for fleets which have a heavy duty need, this new Daily will certainly be in the forefront of the company buyer’s mind.

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