Text by Cheryl Tay
Photos by Adrian Wong
It’s been some time since I last drove a light commercial vehicle (LCVs) and I must say that it was a fun and fulfilling experience being re-introduced into that segment with the Fiat Professional Doblo Cargo Maxi. It got even more fun when I discovered how it made me forget that I was driving a van instead of a car.
Essentially, this Maxi is the long-wheelbase version of the existing Doblo, extending the local range beyond the standard 1.3-litre variant. Available with a 1.6-litre MultiJet diesel engine in both manual and automatic transmissions, the Doblo Maxi gives a good drive, has a sizeable load area, is greatly practical and hits a high on the comfort factor.
These MultiJet engines deliver more power and torque than their predecessors, consuming less fuel and reducing carbon emissions.
Driving the Doblo Maxi on a hot Friday afternoon was literally no sweat in its well air-conditioned environment complementing its fine driving capabilities.
The ‘automatic’ gearbox is Fiat Professional’s five-speed MTA – Manual Transmission Automated – where the gear lever can be pushed to the left to M mode should the driver want added involvement to prompt gear shift changes.
While the five-speed automatic transmission will appeal to a greater driving audience, there is still the conventional manual transmission, six-speed though.
Both variants come with a gear shift indicator that recommends which gear you should be in for utmost fuel efficiency levels, as well as a Start&Stop function that cuts the engine off temporarily when the vehicle is on idle at the stop lights for example. This Start&Stop function can be deactivated with a simple push of a button if you are not used to it and prefer not to have it.
With 35cm additional length over the standard version, the Doblo Maxi has a roomier interior for both passengers* and luggage, the ability to take a payload of up to 900kg and an impressive load volume of 4.2 cubic metres, which exceeds that of the Citroen Berlingo (3.7 cubic metres) and the Nissan NV200 (4.15 cubic metres).
Other than the practical storage space in the second half of the vehicle, there are also plenty of cubby holes and little spaces to put your mobile phones, water bottles and even a decent glove box compartment.
Access to load cargo into the Doblo Maxi is made easy with side sliding doors and rear doors that can be opened 180 degrees.
The standard equipment level of the Doblo Maxi is rather generous – with power-assisted steering, height-and-reach adjustable steering wheel, rear head restraints, electric front windows, remote central locking, side mirrors with signal indicators, and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) that enable maximum safety from the braking system at crucial moments.
The radio has a CD and MP3 player, so you can simply aux in your iPhone and create your personal music hub to drive to your favourite tunes.
A distinctive highlight of the Doblo Maxi’s appearance is its uniquely-shaped headlights which has received positive feedback from owners.
Spending a day with the Doblo Maxi has allowed me to gain new insight about LCVs and how there is an emerging trend about drivers, especially business owners, looking to invest in LCVS rather than purchase both a personal car and a company van – making the perfect solution to combating the rising COE prices.
The Doblo Maxi is available now, in varying colours to match your fancy, and there is a special promotion from now to 6 March 2012. Bookings secured within this promotional period are entitled to a S$888 price discount and a S$200 fuel card alongside 3 years of unlimited servicing. There are also ongoing promotions for service and maintenance packages.
Fiat Professional Doblo Maxi 1.6 MultiJet 16V
Engine: 1,598cc 4-inline diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual / 5-speed automatic
Max Power: 105bhp at 4,000rpm / 90bhp at 4,000rpm
Max Torque: 290Nm at 5,000rpm
Top Speed: 164km/h / 158km/h
For more information, visit the website at www.fiatprofessional.com.sg.
*Light Goods Vehicles are legally allowed to carry only two passengers, unless registered as Goods-cum-Passengers Vehicles.