Powerful performer

Powerful performer – Ford Ranger/Fiat Ducato

Neil Nixon

The panel van market is still as competitive as ever and with certain manufacturers sharing body and chassis designs, finding something different is not always easy. Fiat’s 2.3 JTD Ducato however, despite sharing chassis and body with the Peugeot Boxer and Citroen Relay, has an important unique feature–its engine.

There are three JTD turbo diesel common-rail direct-injection engines in the range, but it is the 2.3-litre version that is unique to the Fiat marque. It has a maximum power output of 110bhp, and torque ot 270Nm, providing a really smooth ride in all situations. It also offers a 16% fuel saving over the 2.8-litre version.

As with the other vans in Fiat’s range, the comfort and specification inside the cab is exceptional. The Ducato is a pleasure to drive, although on the model I tested, the length of the vehicle took some getting used to, and rear distance sensors would have been a welcome addition. Everything about the interior has been well designed–it is roomy, comfortable and very quiet on the move. The seats, infinitely adjustable, are extremely comfortable and helped make even long journeys a pleasure.

The cavernous load space, which varies between 7.5 and 12[m.sup.3] depending upon which of 16 versions you have (I drove the MWB version), is easily accessible via the large back doors or the side sliding door. I used the vehicle to move bulky, heavy cargo and you would hardly have known it was there. It has very little effect on the performance or handling of the vehicle and, thanks to the outstanding sound proofing, there is no noise from the cargo in the cab.

I was really impressed by this vehicle–an excellent, proven chassis and body design complemented by an outstanding turbo diesel engine that combines power and economy.

DRIVER’S LOG

LIST PRICE: 14,745 [pounds sterling] (+VAT)

WARRANTY: Two-year unlimited mileage or three-year/

100,000 miles

ENGINE: 2286cc 110bhp four-cylinder direct-injection diesel

TRANSMISSION: Five-speed manual

GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT: 2900kg

PAYLOAD: 1035kg

VOLUME: 9.0[m.sup.3]

COPYRIGHT 2003 DMG World Media Ltd.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group