Car Test   R0213
 
February 2002
Brief Test Fiat Doblo
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.2SX
WE TESTED THE DOBLO AT THE SAME TIME as a BMW318i saloon; talk about chalk and cheese! The Doblo looks like a van with windows, has precious little street cred, yet friends will sidle up and ask if you would mind moving their chest of drawers. Then afterwards, theyíll start eulogising about the comfort of the seats, the marvellous view out and how quiet it is.
   With our test carís Punto petrol engine, itís an exceptionally smooth performer, but even when the carís unladen, its acceleration is really leisurely Ė and it used more fuel than the BMW! Hope is at hand in the guise of a modern 100bhp diesel; we hope it remains refined Ė not just faster.
   The Doblo uses crude leaf-spring rear suspension, but the seats, front and rear, are so supportive (with vast amounts of space) that passenger comfort is never seriously ruffled.
   The steering is Alfa-quick responsive and really too light for keen drivers Ė but then, they wonít be expecting excitement, will they? Cross-winds disturb its line, but the steering makes it easier to catch and correct.
   The driving position has generous adjustments, including twin cushion-height levers; headroom is vast.
   The nicely carpeted rear load deck is lower than most, and thereís no sill, either. Seat folding is straightforward, but the seats donít have any MPV-style musical-chairs tricks; even a split rear seat and proper tailgate are SX extras.
  
  
AT A GLANCE
  considering size, price and rivals
Controls/displays
Handling/steering
Comfort
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Space/practicality
Security, theft of
theft from
LIKES ...
  • thick, soft carpet on rear floor
  • therapeutic driving seat support
  • "see-me-home" headlamps
  • sliding doors ideal in cramped parking
and GRIPES
  • obstructive screen pillars/headrests
  • paint easily chipped
  • SX doors not suited to right-hand drive
  • silent indicators don't always cancel
  • painted rear wheel arches
  • no heating to rear footwells
VERDICT
The only sensible way to buy a Doblo is cheaply. The main reason we say this is because of the costlier Multipla, which is a more sophisticated yet more compact alternative for buyers who desire practicality more than image. What the Doblo can offer is shear space, with surprising civility at a keen price. Perhaps the Doblo plus the BMW make the ideal combination of opposites for your average two-car household.


THE DOBLO RANGE
size and type lower medium (budget priced) MPV-style estate car   trim levels SX, ELX
engines petrol: 4 cyl/1.25 litre/65bhp;
diesel: 4/1.9/63, 4/1.9DI/100
  drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual (no automatic)
notable features standard twin airbags/side bags on ELX, scuff-resistant plastic bumper shields; twin rear doors (SX)

VITAL STATISTICS (cm)
length x width
(folded mirrors)
416x176
front
- legroom 88-107
- headroom
(no sunroof)
108-113
rear
- typical legroom 112
- typical kneeroom 76
- headroom 108
- hiproom 150
load space
(all seats in use)(litres/cu ft)
622/22
load length 85-135
load width 119-143
load sill height (inside/outside) 0/52
boot height 56
load aperture height 118


HOW THE DOBLO 1.2 COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel economy (mpg) luggage under load cover (litres) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Fiat Doblo 1.2 4/1242/65 4280 23* 29*/37 35 622 107 112/76 2.3/10.95 416
Peugeot Partner Combi 1.4$ 4/1360/75 3530 15.1 21.6/31.8 36 520 107 102/77 3.2/11.3 411
Hyundai Matrix 1.6 4/1599/102 3500 13.1 21.5/32.5 33 375-490s 107 105/80 3.2/10.65 403
Renault Kangoo 1.4 4/1390/75 3630 15.4 20.7/30.3 37 555 104 102/71 3.4/10.7 400
Fiat Multipla 1.6 4/1581/103 3800 12.7 20.6/29.2 30 420-520s 106 114/83 2.8/11.1 399
  * approximate  $ same as Citroën Berlingo Multispace  s back seat slides
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