Do you do Fiat Scudo?
THERE are certainly some distinctive-looking panel vans out there at the moment, but manufacturers remain unwilling to shoulder the development costs of these vehicles alone.
That’s why we see new models brought to market by groups of manufacturers with each individual marque branding the vehicle as their own.
The Fiat Scudo we look at here, like its predecessor and its bigger brother the Ducato, is a product of Fiat’s alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen. So, you can also get it badged as a Citroen Dispatch or a Peugeot Expert.
It’s an unorthodox-looking van whatever insignia adorns its grille with a steeply raked windscreen, a huge front bumper and dramatically elongated headlamps.
The styling themes are definitely more Peugeot than Fiat with the large front overhang and the bonnet that rises at the edges before easing up into the A-pillars. Half close your eyes, stand on your head and on a foggy morning, you could almost mistake it for a 407.
The Scudo is one of the smaller panel vans you’ll encounter on your commercial vehicle search but, crucially, it’s not as small as the old Scudo model it replaced.
During its marathon innings that stretched from 1995 to 2007, that model sold some 350,000 units partly because there was nothing else on the market quite like it in terms of size - with the obvious exception of its Citroen and Peugeot sister vehicles.
Where the old Scudo slotted into the no van’s land between smaller panel vans like the Volkswagen Transporter and larger little vans like Ford’s Transit Con- nect, this model goes head to head with the first group. If it’s going to beat these rivals on a level playing field, it will need to be good.
The Scudo range is far broader than before. Buyers can vary the available loadspace in their model by selecting from two wheelbases (L1 and L2) and two roof heights (H1 and H2).
This gives rise to payload capacities between 1,000kg and 1,200kg with load volumes of 5m3, 6m3 or 7m3. The Scudo offers a class-leading loading height of just 490mm (which the optional air-suspension can drop further) and impressive load access with full-height rear doors and a sliding side door on each flank.
With openings of 924mm wide, these sliding side doors are big enough to take a standard Euro pallet.
This, along with the 1,245mm loading width between the wheelarches and the square shape of the loadbay generally, helps make the Scudo one of the best small panel vans when it comes to accommodating larger objects.
Don’t necessarily let the modest 1.6litre capacity of the Scudo’s entry-level engine put you off.
This 90bhp unit chips in with a sizable 180Nm torque rating and it will be more than adequate if you do most of your driving around town.
The 2.0-litre engines are stronger for those carrying bigger loads on longer trips. There’s the choice of 120bhp or 140bhp power here and that means torque of 300Nm or 320Nm, both at a lowly 2,000rpm.
These are excellent commercial vehicle engines with strong economy and power enough to make you question the need for the larger 2.5-litre units employed by some rivals. The 120bhp 2.0-litre is probably the pick of the range.
BROAD RANGE: Fiat’s small panel van comes with two wheelbases and two roof heights, and in a number of engine options.