The Fiat Doblo has always been about space – one that’s versatile, practical and value for money for the family driver. Now the all-new version builds on those qualities, yielding improved comfort, style, economy, safety and running costs.
Highly acclaimed and with more than a million variants sold since it first went on sale in 2000, the Doblo has forged a formidable reputation as a hard-working hold-all. And whether it’s for leisure or work the new model aims to cement its standing with best in class interior space and lowest exhaust emissions.
Eight versions of the Doblo featuring seating for up to seven will be available when it goes on sale this month, with prices ranging from £12,295 to £17,145 (OTR). As well as a sophisticated new appearance, all incorporate innovative bi-link rear suspension for a high level of comfort. The longest wheelbase in the segment doesn’t just mean more room for passengers but more space for their luggage too, with a roomy 790-litre boot that can be expanded to a class-topping 3200 litres.
There is a choice of three high-tech engines, all of which produce more power and torque than their predecessors while drinking less fuel and emitting less carbon dioxide. The 1.6 16v and 2.0-litre turbodiesels employ Fiat’s ground-breaking MultiJet technology to combine best-in-class fuel consumption and exhaust emissions with lively yet smooth responses. They also feature a new six-speed manual gearbox while the 1.6 will also become available with an automatic.
The 1.4 16v petrol engine is the perfect range starter with a punchy 95bhp, and like its diesel siblings it complies with Euro 5 emissions standards. Whatever the engine, all models come with Start&Stop and also feature a gearshift indicator to tell you when it’s the most fuel-efficient moment to change gear.
Inside, the Doblo is all about the family and its interior has been designed to reflect this, combining safety and comfort with a high degree of functionality. Five seats come as standard but a third row can be specified to bring the number to seven. The two back rows of chairs fold and tumble to liberate a vast amount of space in seconds. They can even be removed if you need more space. It means the new Doblo can accommodate just about any combination of passengers and their luggage.
As safety is top of the list for the majority of families, the Doblo follows every other Fiat by featuring state-of-the-art safety technology. ESP Electronic Stability Programme is standard. This includes a Hill Holder function so all the driver has to do is concentrate on other road users rather than the mechanics of a hill start.
ABS anti-lock brakes are standard, accompanied by EBD Electronic Brake Distribution to maximise stopping power. Also standard fit are front and new full-size side airbags, and crumple zones designed to shield passengers from the forces of an impact. In the event of damage, new Doblo has been built so that it’s simple to repair, thus keeping insurance costs to a minimum.
Whether it’s Active, Dynamic or Eleganza versions, the all-new interior hasn’t just been designed to be safe and functional. The new dashboard, instruments, upholstery, seats and steering wheel are also good looking and comfortable. And the Doblo has been crammed with features more typical of a high-end family car.
Height and reach adjustable steering wheel, rear head restraints, electric front windows, remote central locking and a radio/CD player are standard in all models. Climate control is available too, as are cruise control, parking sensors, anti-whiplash front head restraints and the Blue&Me handsfree system.
Blue&Me TomTom can also be specified. This revolutionary system features a practical colour touch screen that acts as a hub for a mobile phone, navigation system and information about the car. It is even sophisticated enough to point the driver to the nearest fuel station when it detects the tank is nearly empty. It’s also fully portable to combine the best attributes of aftermarket and factory fit systems.
Included is Fiat’s ground-breaking eco:Drive system to give real-time fuel consumption information and advice on how to get the best economy out of the Doblo.
All this kit is wrapped in stylish new bodywork with an eye-catching yet sleek front end, robust wide wheel arches and a squared off rear that emphasises how practical the Doblo’s interior is.
Comfort – and a lot more – as standard
Fiat Doblo has always been the ultimate value-for-money family hold-all. And while the all-new version retains just 3 per cent of the previous model’s parts, it builds on its concept by offering class-leading levels of comfort and carrying capacity.
Sitting on a comprehensively-adapted version of the platform that underpins the new Punto Evo, new Doblo is a versatile, spacious MPV that has passengers’ comfort at heart. Underneath is a sophisticated bi-link independent rear suspension. Light yet compact so that there’s minimal intrusion into the luggage compartment, this suspension is fitted with an anti-roll bar for a comfortable and forgiving ride. And it works with MacPherson independent front suspension to offer drivers excellent dynamic responses.
The combination means that in ride terms, the Doblo can compete with far more expensive small MPVs and offer superior comfort to more traditional rivals from the budget class. And it’s endowed with sufficient size and flexibility to make it a true all rounder. At 4.39m, it’s 137mm longer than the model it replaces. But while the increase in length isn’t enough to have an impact on the Doblo’s manoeuvrability, it boosts the wheelbase by 172mm to a class-leading 2.75m, yielding more passenger space.
The boot has been enlarged as well. New Doblo’s luggage compartment is a sizeable 790 litres, again class-leading. But it’s the flexibility of this load area that’s one of the new car’s most impressive attributes.
Designed for all shapes and sizes of family, it has a highly versatile seating arrangement, meaning it can accommodate just about any combination of passengers and their luggage. Regular models come with five seats, but Dynamic and Eleganza versions can be specified with a third row of two extra chairs. All the seats in rows two and three tumble and fold or can be removed altogether. Doing that frees a cavernous 3200 litres of load space.
To make the most of the boot room there’s a clever height adjustable parcel shelf. This can either hide what’s in the luggage compartment or be dropped to a lowered position. In this mode it’s capable of supporting up to 70kg and can combine with folded rear seats to provide a perfectly flat load area.
To ensure all this space is easily accessible the Doblo comes with twin sliding rear doors as standard. A large, wide tailgate with a conveniently low lip makes getting things in and out of the boot as easy as possible. Proving its family credentials, a wide range of accessories for active families are offered such as towbar, bike racks and ski carriers.
But the Doblo is a lot more than a load lugger. The seats are a new design with new upholstery. And the cabin has been re-worked with improved ergonomics, a new dashboard, instruments and steering wheel. As Fiat understands about families, there are numerous oddment compartments, including a handy shelf above the windscreen, for stowing everything from mobiles to maps.
Proving that the Doblo really is the value-for-money choice, it comes with an extremely high level of standard equipment. The entry-level Active model features a height and reach adjustable steering wheel, electric front windows, remote central locking, a radio CD player, three rear head restraints, body coloured bumpers and body coloured door mirrors with indicator repeaters.
The mid-range Dynamic model builds on that with manual air-conditioning, remote central locking and a height adjustable driver’s seat. Meanwhile the luxurious Eleganza model features equipment to put far pricier models to shame. It has electric rear windows, electric heated door mirrors, front fog lights, a leather steering wheel and gear knob and 16-inch alloy wheels.
So that drivers can focus on driving rather than fumbling with maps, making phone calls or entertaining the kids, the Doblo can be ordered with Fiat’s impressive Blue&Me hands free system or Blue&Me TomTom. The award-winning Blue&Me uses Bluetooth connectivity to let the driver make and manage phone calls or listen to an MP3 player using voice activation or steering wheel controls.
Blue&Me TomTom combines this powerful tool with a 4.3-inch colour screen. Housed in a portable unit, this mounts on the dash to combine a cost-effective alternative to the best of after-market satellite navigation technology with none of the aggravation, at less than you’d expect to pay for a manufacturer’s original equipment. It offers the latest in sat nav technology such as touch screen controls, differing voice choices and full European coverage.
As well as showing you where to go, it talks to the Doblo’s in-car computer to provide information about your driving. But this is much more than a simple trip computer. It uses Fiat’s widely acclaimed eco:Drive programme.
Designed in conjunction with software giant Microsoft, eco:Drive gathers information on vehicle efficiency and driving style. This data can be transmitted through the USB port of the Blue&Me infotainment system to a standard USB key. Read that on a computer and a website will analyse how efficient the driver is in terms of fuel consumption and emissions, provide a score out of 100 on an eco:Index, and offer tutorials to help improve that score and achieve more eco-friendly driving.
But Blue&Me TomTom has allowed Fiat to take eco:Drive a step further by giving real-time indication of fuel consumption and advice on how best to drive economically.
The award-winning eco:Drive is such a powerful tool, it can improve economy by up to 15 per cent, saving drivers between £105 and £175 a year in fuel costs. And when the Doblo’s tank does eventually start to run dry, Blue&Me TomTom will flash directions to the nearest fuel station.
Cutting edge engines
Every Italian has a strong heart and the Doblo’s comes in the shape of a class-leading engine line up.
The three new engines that underpin this latest addition to the Fiat range all out-perform their predecessors by providing more power with improved economy but lower CO2 emissions. And that means they put the Doblo’s rivals in the shade too.
Every model in the range comes with Start&Stop as standard. This cuts the engine when it would usually be idling, to stop drivers wasting expensive fuel when they’re not going anywhere. Dip the clutch and the engine automatically fires up. It’s a simple device but is reckoned to reduce consumption by 15 per cent, no matter which engine. A gearshift indicator is also standard across the range. This tells you when it’s the optimum moment to change gear – either up or down – in order to maximise pulling power or miles per gallon.
With these two features standard across the range, even the entry-level 1.4-litre 16v petrol engine is Euro 5 emissions compliant. Not only is its 166g/km of CO2 8g/km lower than the engine it replaces, the 95bhp unit also has 18bhp more. Flexibility is enhanced by a very flat torque curve between 1500 and 4000rpm, together with a slick five-speed manual gearbox. All of which allows this engine to return an impressive 39.2mpg on the combined cycle, allied to gutsy performance, making it ideal for round-town driving.
The two MultiJet engines feature all-new six-speed manual gearboxes. The 1.6 16v will also become available with Fiat’s smooth MTA (Manual Transmission Automated) five-speed. It can either be left to control the changes itself or for added involvement the driver can prompt changes by pushing or pulling on the gearlever.
Showing the strides that Fiat Powertrain Technologies has taken, the 1.6-litre unit provides the same 105bhp power output as the 1.9 it replaces. However, its maximum 290Nm of torque is 90Nm up on its predecessor, making it an even more relaxing drive. The hike in pulling power that makes this the highest performer among engines of its kind and size is partially thanks to an electronically controlled fixed geometry turbocharger.
But the 1.6 16v isn’t just about performance. Carbon dioxide emissions of 138g/km are significantly reduced in comparison to the 1.9. This is thanks to the close-coupled Diesel Particulate Filter and a built-in Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system that improves the control of gas temperature and flow. On top of this, fuel consumption over the combined cycle is boosted to 54.3mpg, a 5.6mpg improvement.
The new MultiJet engines don’t just save money at the pumps; they’re also cheap to service. Engine inspections now only occur every 21,000 miles meaning a 25 per cent saving on scheduled servicing over 56,000 miles.
Top of the range is the 2.0-litre MultiJet. This development of the trusty 1.9 also features an electronically controlled fixed geometry turbocharger to enhance torque even at low engine speeds. The result is 135bhp and a lusty 320Nm of torque, an impressive 120Nm more than the engine it replaces. This doesn’t just mean any load can be transported effortlessly, it also adds to the Doblo’s versatility by making it a good towing car.
But the improvements haven’t all been about performance. The fully integrated and electronically activated EGR valve and cooling system and the same close coupled catalytic converter as the 1.6 result in an impressive increase in economy. Over the combined cycle this is boosted to 49.6mpg, a 3.3mpg improvement over the 1.9. And CO2 emissions are reduced to 150g/km.
Protection with panache
Just because the Doblo is efficient, comfortable and versatile doesn’t mean owners have to sacrifice safety or style.
As with all Fiats, safety is engineered into the Doblo from the ground up. It sits on MacPherson independent suspension at the front, bi-link with anti-roll bar at the rear. This innovative solution makes for predictable road holding and combines with new hydraulic power steering to maximise grip and responsiveness.
The powerful braking system uses self-ventilating discs at the front, drums at the rear and is supplemented by state-of-the-art electronics to offer stopping power that’s unparalleled in its class. On top of this, every car is fitted with ABS anti-lock brakes that work in conjunction with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). This enables every driver to extract the absolute maximum from their car’s braking system when it really matters.
The Doblo is also the only car in its class to feature Electronic Stability Programme in every model. This combines with automatic Hill Holder that enables drivers to pull off the perfect hill start without the stress of juggling accelerator, clutch and hand brake.
Although Fiat has made every effort to assist Doblo drivers in avoiding accidents, it’s also taken measures to ensure they’re safe in the event of incident. Crumple zones to dissipate energy are built-in, while head restraints are fitted as standard to every Doblo in the range. And anti-whiplash front head restraints can be specified on Dynamic and Eleganza models. Every car is fitted with driver and passenger air bags as standard. Next generation side bags are also included across the range. These are larger than previous side airbags to offer greater head and chest protection.
To make motorway driving as effortless as possible, cruise control is available on Dynamic and Eleganza models while fog lights are standard on Eleganza and optional on Active and Dynamic versions.
Safety has also been integrated into the Doblo’s stylish and personable appearance. The large windscreen doesn’t just brighten up the inside; it also gives occupants, and particularly the driver, superb visibility. This is further aided by flat blade windscreen wipers with a low aerodynamic profile to help minimise noise from air turbulence. Then there are sturdy body-coloured bumpers that incorporate protection from knocks in vulnerable areas at the sides and centre of the Doblo’s nose. And a rubbing strip that runs down the flanks safeguards against nudges and emphasises the prominent wheel arches and sculpted sides.
Yet features like these along with the dynamic hexagonal black mesh of the grille and the standard fit 16-inch wheels help make the Doblo distinctive. They work in conjunction with the prominent centrally mounted Fiat badge, large enveloping headlights and curvaceous bonnet to give the front wings a muscular appearance. The side view is equally dynamic thanks to those bold wheel arches and the shiny black door pillars. Tinted rear privacy windows can be specified on Dynamic and Eleganza versions.
As with the front, the rear is characterised by a large glass area with excellent visibility. New-look rear light clusters with clear lenses neatly frame the sides while the body-coloured rear bumper forms part of the rear tailgate and blends seamlessly into the rear wings. The overall impression highlights the Doblo’s load-carrying credentials.
Even the guides for the rear sliding doors have been cleverly integrated into the bodywork so they’re almost invisible. And the rear doors are big enough to incorporate full-size electric rear windows. That’s a first for this class of car and proof that the new Doblo makes it possible to buy the style of a more expensive MPV for a significantly smaller outlay.