The sixth generation of the hugely successful FIAT Ducato, which has notched up 2.6 million sales since it was first launched in 1981, continues to set the segment benchmark not only in Europe but also in the 80 international regions in which it is now on sale.
For 2014 a new exterior style brings sophisticated ‘car design’ to the light commercial vehicle segment, conveying the new Ducato’s dynamism, quality, safety and robustness. The all-new front end features new headlights with integrated daytime running lights, LED on Tecnico models, and a bold new grille design, finished in “chrome shadow” or “piano black” depending on the model.
The chunky new front bumpers help to define the muscular look of the new Ducato and, because they’re comprised of four sections, they also help reduce running costs by allowing repairs to be carried out on damaged portions only. Other measures intended to reduce maintenance and repair bills include headlamps located on sliding guides and a new single-piece bonnet that does away with separate plastic panels and offers greater access to the engine compartment. Even the shape of the 2014 Ducato is designed to help reduce fuel bills – it offers class-leading aerodynamic efficiency, more akin to a mid-sized saloon than a commercial vehicle.
Other new features on the FIAT Ducato include a new skid plate, available as an option with a black or aluminium finish, body-coloured bumpers and painted door handles, as well as new wheel trim and alloy wheel designs. New rear light clusters, with double side lights and Pulse Width Modulation Technology to improve lamp life, complete the functional yet stylish exterior revisions of the new FIAT Ducato.
Inside, the new FIAT Ducato offers a comfortable, attractive and superbly functional cabin environment. While other markets offer a number of interior variants, the UK adopts the updated Techno cabin as standard across the range. New, well-appointed, multi-adjustable seats offer car-like comfort levels with lumbar support and a driver’s armrest as standard on all models, while a new dashboard console can accommodate two 750ml beverage bottles as well as storage, charging and USB/Aux-in facilities for mobile devices. (A covered storage compartment, large enough to store a 15-inch laptop, is available in lieu of the console.)
A highlight of the revised cabin is a new segment-exclusive Multifunction Tablet Holder which can safely secure any one of a variety of devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as traditional clipboards and A4 pads. Other enhancements include optional padded headrest inserts, with an embroidered “Ducato” logo, and an anti-glare shroud on the elliptical-shape instrument panel, making the dials and displays easier to read and interpret in all light conditions. For passengers a double bench seat, which includes a central backrest that folds down into a practical table with a document holder clip, is standard on FIAT Ducato in the UK. There are convenient storage compartments under the driver and passenger seats as well. A crew cab van with a full bulkhead and forward-facing seating for seven – three in the front, four in the rear - will be also available in the UK in the autumn.
The 2014 FIAT Ducato also benefits from more advanced infotainment systems – a four-speaker audio system with Bluetooth technology and MP3 playback is now standard on all models, while the range-topping Tecnico model is equipped with FIAT’s new Uconnect™, five-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system. The new unit features an integrated TomTom navigation system complete with bird's eye mapping, progressive route guidance and a 'One-Step Voice Entry Destination' function for entering the destination address using voice commands. It also includes an advanced Bluetooth interface to access extra functions, such as phone call management, reading received SMS text messages via text-to-speech technology and audio streaming that plays music files and web radio stations directly from a smart device. Remote steering wheel controls, DAB digital radio and a reversing camera, in combination with rear parking sensors, are also part of the standard infotainment system on Tecnico versions.
Under the bonnet, FIAT Professional has been equally as thorough, working to reduce emissions and improve economy by around 10 percent across the Euro 5+ engine range. All FIAT Ducato models are equipped with a six-speed manual transmission as standard and now boasts best-in-class efficiency figures, with CO2emissions for the entry-level 2.3 MultiJet II 110hp as low as 170g/km and an impressive fuel economy figure of 44.1 MPG on the NEDC cycle. Both the 2.3 MultiJet II 130, which produces 130hp and 320Nm, and the 2.3 litre MultiJet II 150, with 150hp and 350 Nm, return even better economy and emissions figures when equipped with optional Start&Stop – just 164g/km and 45.6 MPG for both engines! The heavy-duty, 3.0 MultiJet Power 180, with 180hp and 400Nm of torque, has CO2 emissions of 203g/km and returns 36.7 MPG on the NEDC cycle and, like every other engine in the FIAT Ducato range, has 30,000 mile service intervals to help lower service bills and reduce time the vehicle spends off the road for maintenance.
As mentioned, Start&Stop is available on 2.3 MultiJet 130 and 150hp engines and can improve fuel efficiency in urban areas by as much as 15 percent. The Gear Shift Indicator (GSI) goes one step further by actively encouraging the selection of a more efficient gear via an illuminated indicator in the instrument panel, resulting in immediate improvements to comfort, economy and emissions. A six-speed Comfort-Matic transmission is also available on all but the entry-level 2.3-litre MultiJet II 110hp engine, offering a further five percent boost in fuel efficiency thanks to specific ratios and mapping, depending on vehicle use.
As a global product, the Ducato must prove its reliability and robustness to a more diverse customer base than ever before and for that reason an extensive test programme for the 2014 FIAT Ducato was implemented. Over the course of its development, the Ducato was subjected to 6.5 million gruelling test miles across a variety of demanding road and usage conditions and in some of the most extreme weather conditions imaginable.
Some 11,200 hours of bench tests and over 500,000 door operation cycles were also conducted to effectively simulate more than 10 years of heavy use resulting in reinforcements to the key points of the body and door surrounds, as well as redesigns and improvements to the hinges, sliding rollers, stops and door seals. As a consequence the durability of the vehicle body has been improved by more than 50 percent.
The braking system benefits from new discs (ventilated 280mm or 300mm front discs, depending on GVW) and brake pads, as well as a new brake servo (depending on version) and a redesigned brake pedal, all of which is designed to improve longevity, performance and refinement while reducing pedal effort by up to 45 percent.
Clutch durability has also been improved by adopting a new hydraulic actuator on 2.3 MultiJet II engines and by reducing the transmission ratio on the 3.0 MultiJet engine in order to minimise the forces transmitted to the clutch and increase performance, particularly when laden or driving in demanding driving conditions.
FIAT Professional is even offering an exclusive white paint for the Ducato that acts as a barrier against UV rays while preserving the long-term quality of the paint, while a reduction in the cost of parts and components allows the new FIAT Ducato to deliver maintenance and repair costs amongst the lowest in its class, a major contribution toward improving its ‘Total Cost of Ownership'.
Mechanically, the new FIAT Ducato retains its front-wheel drive configuration with a McPherson front suspension and a rigid-axle rear suspension with leaf springs, thereby maximising its load volume and versatility while also ensuring low weight and excellent handling. The front suspension top mounts have been reinforced to reduce noise, improve longevity and eliminate the ingress of impurities, while six different rear suspension configurations are available in the UK, depending on vehicle use: single-leaf springs (with or without anti-roll bars) underpin standard van and passenger versions, while double-leaf springs (again, with or without anti-roll bars) cater to large-capacity vans and heavy conversions. A new, composite leaf-spring is combined with an anti-roll bar to reduce rear suspension weight by some 15kg while maintaining high levels of body control, making it an ideal solution for motorhome conversions. Finally, a heavy-duty rear suspension (with double leaf-springs and an anti-roll bar) is available for very heavy conversions up to maximum 2,500kg allowed. As a result, the new FIAT Ducato now claims the best gross vehicle weight (up to 4.25 tonnes), rear axle payload (up to 2,500kg) and overall payload (up to 2,100kg for vans) of the entire ‘single wheel’ class.
The new FIAT Ducato also makes substantial progress in the field of vehicle safety, with state-of-the-art safety and driving-assistance devices available across the range: All versions are now equipped with an advanced ESC (Electronic Stability Control) system as standard and in addition to ROM (Roll-Over Mitigation) and RMI (Roll Movement Intervention), the system also integrates LAC (Load Adaptive Control, which adapt to shifts in the vehicle’s centre-of-gravity); Hill Holder; ASR (Anti-Slip Regulation); MSR (drive torque control); EBA (Electronic Braking Assistance) and ABS with EBD. A driver’s airbag is standard while a large 120-litre passenger airbag (to take account of the double-bench seats); side airbags and curtain airbags are available upon request.
Further driving assistance systems are available on request, such as rain-sensing wipers, cruise control with a speed limiter (standard on Tecnico); TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) and dusk-sensing headlamps which can be combined with AHBA (Automatic High Beam Activation). Also available is FIAT’s advanced Traction+ (with HDC) system which guarantees greater traction even on poor grip surfaces (such as snow or mud) without the added weight, complexity and increasing running costs associated with full 4x4 systems. HDC (Hill Descent Control) operates on steep descents to keep the speed within a pre-set limit by utilising the ESC system to brake individual wheels.
Advanced systems such as LDWS (Lane Departure Warning System) and segment-exclusive TSR (Traffic Sign Recognition - a system that identifies speed limits and no-overtaking zones and displays them on the instrument panel) also debut on the new model.
In terms of offering specific vans for specific needs, the new FIAT Ducato offers the widest front-wheel-drive range on the market: with 10,000 variants available to customers across its commercial, passenger and chassis vehicles. Within the van range, this is a choice of eight different load volumes, ranging from 8 to 17 m³, across four lengths, three wheelbases and three heights, with payloads of between 800 and 2,100kg, as well as three different sizes each of side-sliding and rear doors – all told, this makes for a total of 1,000 possible van body configurations alone. The squared-off load compartment offers class-leading cargo space between the rear wheel arches (1.42 m) as well as category-leading internal dimensions and accessibility. The new FIAT Ducato also boasts best-in-class space efficiency, i.e. the ratio of load compartment length to total length, particularly on versions of less than six metres which are predominantly used in urban areas where the external footprint needs to be as small as possible.
Six lengths are offered for the chassis cabs and cowls, including a new 3,800mm wheelbase version, and there will even be a new three-way tipper available directly from FIAT Professional, available for order later in the year. More than 250 optional extras are offered on the new Ducato, such as the fixed or removable tow hook and a retractable rear access step, to further enhance the already exceptionally versatile Ducato package.
Given that more than 500,000 families travel with a motorhome built on a FIAT Ducato base, special attention has been paid to the new Ducato’s motorhome platform, which is still the only dedicated motorhome base vehicle on the market! Thanks to FIAT Professional’s experience in this area, and the constant communication between its engineers and those of the motorhome manufacturers, the FIAT Ducato base vehicle currently underpins three out of four motorhomes sold in Europe. It is regularly optimised and updated according to feedback from motorhome manufacturers and which is why the base-vehicle range is now available in no fewer than five wheelbases, six different chassis lengths and four engines options, resulting in a total number of 600 possible motorhome base combinations. For converters, a provision has also been made at the SEVEL factory to install Alko AMC chassis to further reduce vehicle weight while still retaining the availability of ESC and TPMS systems.
Naturally, another focus of the New Ducato ‘motorhome base’ was increased comfort so to build on the car-like seating position and high visibility of the current vehicle, FIAT has also made specific improvements to the suspension, brakes and Comfort-Matic gearbox. And, of course, FIAT Professional also offers peace of mind by offering its customers a comprehensive warranty, the backup of 6,500 FIAT Professional service centres (1,800 of which are specially equipped to handle motorhomes) and a dedicated pan-European customer-care service, offering a range of services ranging from product information to complete roadside assistance in 51 countries, 24/7. In addition, to coincide with the launch of the new Ducato, FIAT Professional is introducing a new “FIAT Professional for Converters” initiative where conversion companies are invited to join a programme that provides information, guidelines and technical specifications via a dedicated website, backed up by a team of specialists who are on hand to answer any queries or help solve any issues converters may have. The initiative not only benefits motorhome converters, but any company involved in the conversion of the FIAT Ducato for a specific purpose.
Finally, a new range of approximately 80 Mopar® accessories have been developed to help meet the specific demands of its professional users: Functional accessories includes roof bars, folding ladders, luggage racks, loading rollers, protective mats, parking sensors and anti-theft systems, while customisation options includes colour trims for the dashboard, 13 key covers, seat covers, skid plates, front grilles, darkened headlights, alloy wheels, tyre valve caps, chrome-plated number plate surrounds and fog lights. Amongst Mopar’s high-quality merchandise products customers can even opt for a beverage flask, a barbecue set, branded luggage sets or a rechargeable electric bicycle.
Pricing for the new Ducato starts at £19,995* - a nominal increase of just £350 over the outgoing Ducato given the new style, numerous improvements and high level of content added to the 2014 model (e.g. Bluetooth) – it’s also a sum that’s easily and quickly recouped thanks to the 10 percent improvement in fuel economy and increased payloads across the range. Prices for the FIAT Ducato chassis cab starts at £22,845**.
Standard equipment on the 2014 FIAT Ducato includes:
The full equipment specification for the 2014 FIAT Ducato Tecnico is as follows: