Car Test   R0230
  See also R0213 
April 2002
  Fiat Doblo
Printer Friendly Page Featured model 1.9JTD ELX
THE MPV'S TIME HAS COME. THERE'S BEEN big sales growth in the multi-purpose vehicle market-segment over the last year or so and the choice has proliferated. However, such vehicles tend to be costlier to buy and to run than an equivalent hatch or estate, so CitroŽn, then Renault and now Fiat have augmented their offerings with cheaper, van-based conversions, at much keener prices.
   Of course, the Doblo isn't a fully fledged MPV like the Multipla - more a (very) tall estate car, with non-removable seats. However, in this top-end ELX diesel, you get standard features that aren't offered on a lower-range Multipla that's £3300 more expensive.
   If you scan our report on the 1.2SX we said "try to buy your Doblo cheaply," but acquaintance with this new turbo-diesel is giving us second thoughts. Not that it's particularly frugal or fast - other Fiats with this JTD have been a disappointment, too. Nevertheless, it gives this remarkably spacious people (or load) carrier the pulling power it needs.
   It also has the virtue of smoothness as it goes about its task. There's just a trace of vibrancy around 1500rpm, but apart from that, it's got more puff than the plucky 1.2 and is almost as subdued, thanks to its much taller gearing.
   There are some important additions that the ELX version offers, as well; the most significant are a split back seat and a tailgate - though both are low-cost options for the SX. One irritation with this seat is that you can't fold the larger section forward by itself, for some reason to do with anti-tip safety, apparently.
   A certain sparseness of appearance inside, due to large areas of painted metal on view, is actually deceptive because the quality of the seating and facia is very good. the plastic on the door treads and side trims can scuff too easily, though, and the tool satchel is just strapped to the floor.
   Generous seat adjustment and headroom make the Doblo a serious proposition for the very tall and the disabled driver alike - lumbar support is almost therapeutic.
   Details like the full-width oddments shelf above the windscreen and those deep door mirrors are van features that we love; the low cost rear parking sensors make manoeuvring the Doblo much easier than you would think at first glance.
  
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 ...
  • softly carpeted load platform
  • durable, supportive seat trimmings
  • roomy roof shelf above cabin
  • parking sensors desirable and cheap
and GRIPES
  • sun visors don't swivel sideways
  • no intermittent rear wipe setting
  • too many exposed, unsealed seams
  • silent indicators easy to leave on
VERDICT
Both Doblo and CitroŽn Multispace are now available as modern, direct-injection/common-rail diesels, at prices Multipla, Picasso - or anyone else, for that matter- can't approach. If you spec the Multispace with the options that this Doblo ELX offers as standard, the Fiat is cheaper. However, it does look and feel more like a van, albeit a very civilized one. Both will do an excellent job for the man or woman who wants a van during the week and a family conveyance after hours.


SPECIFICATION
engine 1910cc, 4-cylinder, diesel; 100bhp at 4000rpm, 147 lb ft at 1500rpm; belt-driven single overhead camshaft, 8 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front wheel drive; 25.9 mph/1000rpm in 5th, 21.1 in 4th
suspension front: independent damper/struts with integral coil springs Rear: dead axle with half-elliptic leaf springs   steering hydraulic power assistance; 2.2 turns lock-to-lock; 10.8m diameter turning circle between kerbs (12.1m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, drums rear with optional anti-lock control on test car   wheels/tyres 5in alloy with 175/70/R14T tyres (steel wheels on SX); full-size steel spare

THE DOBLO RANGE
size and type lower-medium MPV-style estate car   trim levels SX, ELX
engines petrol: 4cyl/1.2 litre/65bhp; diesel: 4/1.9idi/63, 4/1.9di turbo/100   drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual; (no automatic available)


HOW THE DOBLO JTD COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m)@ maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Fiat Doblo 1.9JTD 4/1910/100 2700 13.5 19.0/25.9 43/168 18/28.5 107 112/76 2.2/10.8 416
Fiat Multipla 1.9JTD 4/1910/110 2740 13.3 19.2/27.5 43.5/170 18/28.5 106 114/83 2.8/11.1 399
CitroŽn Berlingo M/space 1.6p 4/1587/110 3240 11.5 23.3/32.7 37.5/175 18/26.5 107 102/77 3.2/11.3 411
Renault Kangoo 1.4 8vp 4/1390/75 3630 15.4 20.7/30.3 37/177 23/30 104 102/71 3.4/10.7 400
Hyundai Matrix 1.6p 4/1599/102 3500 13.1 21.5/32.5 33/191 13/27.5 107 105/80 3.2/10.6 403
Mitsubishi Space Star 1.8p 4/1834/121 3150 10.6 20.4/27.1 38/174 18/27.5 109 103/75 3.1/10.0 403
  p petrol version  @ all with ABS


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CONTROLS AND DISPLAYS
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HANDLING AND STEERING
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Plenty of adjusters plus firm, erect posture make for longer-journey appreciation. Accelerator pedal too close to brake pedal and radio fiddly. ELX displays clear but some inaccurate; "see-me-home" headlamps.
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Alfa-quick steering is very responsive - so any waywardness is easily caught, if crosswinds disturb its line. Too tall to be chuckable, but no stability problems. Light manoeuvering effort with splendid mirrors.
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COMFORT
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Crude leaf-sprung rear end makes for a skittish ride, but heavier diesel and good seating help a lot. Heater recalcitrant at times - cold footwell draughts, for example. Relaxed cruiser all the way to 70.
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OVERTAKING ABILITY
This diesel suits the model admirably, with strong low-speed pulling and commendable smoothness. Nice gearshift and clutch, too, though ultimate acceleration through the gears is modest.
  acceleration in seconds through gears 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 3.7 10.5 16.0
  30-50mph 4.9 8.7 12.3
  40-60mph 6.4 9.0 11.9
  50-70mph 8.6 10.3 13.6
  30-70mph 13.5 19.0 25.9
  max speed in each gear (* using 4300rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th*      5th
     speed (mph)      24      42      65      91      102


FUEL ECONOMY
This Fiat diesel disappoints in mpg terms, despite its affable nature. Still a splendid range, despite alarmist gauge and low-level lamp. Computer mpg readout 15% optimistic!
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 30
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 38
    motorway (70mph cruising) 37
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 45
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 53
    overall mpg 43
    realistic tank capacity/range 53/500
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 34.5/53.3/44.1
    CO2 emissions 168g/km
    car tax band D


SAFETY  
Even with ABS option, best stopping distance only fair, but at a sensible pressure. Side airbag option, in addition to the frontal pair are desirable. Rear head restraints (especially the centre one) block rear view.
    EURO NCAP RATINGS
 
 
 
    BRAKES
 
  from 50mph (with optional ABS)
 
This model has not yet been
tested by EURO NCAP
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     35m
sudden 18kg     28.5m best stop
+4kg 22kg     28.5m
 
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.



SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Vast cargo-carrying potential (it's a converted van!), but roomy, comfortable back seats don't remove and their sharp underside hardware squanders load length. No load sill and ELX's tailgate worth having.
  in centimetres (5-door estate)
  outside
  length 416
  width - including mirrors 197
    - mirrors folded 176
  height (no roof bars) 180
  load sill height (inside/outside) 0/52
  steering
  turns lock-to-lock 2.2
  turning circle (metres) 10.8
   
  easy to park/garage?
  inside
  front - legroom 88-107
    - headroom 108-113$
  rear - typical legroom 112
    - typical kneeroom 76
    - headroom 108
    - hiproom 150
  load area
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
622/22.0
  load length 85-120#
  load length to facia 260
  load width 119-143
  load height (to shelf/to top of aperture) 56 118
# 135 at floor level  $ without sunroof


SECURITY  
Poor showing in Thatcham tests, with unimpeded access to luggage area from interior. At least the owner finds it easy as well, with a remote handset and see-me-home headlights.
FEATURES/CONVENIENCE
NCSR RATINGS
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
deadlocks  
alarm (perimeter + interior)   
self-locking (static + drive off)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of"
 
NCSR - "theft from"
 
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit www.thatcham.org for more details
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