The Fiat Doblo makes no secret of the fact that it’s based on a van, as that’s why it has so much space inside. However, it’s not as good to drive as more conventional MPVs.
The Fiat Doblo is a very practical and affordable MPV. It’s an alternative to models such as the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Rifter and, like them, the secret to both its relatively small price and huge practicality is that it’s based on a van – the Doblo Cargo.
Mind you, that much is probably very obvious from the pictures. And, if they don’t give the game away, one look at the interior certainly will. It’s very much the definition of no-frills inside, although what little there is extremely tough and should be more than up to the job of coping with everyday family life.
Perhaps the best thing that you can say is that it gives you everything you need, while the high-up and upright, but comfortable, driving position gives a commanding view of the road and all around.
Families will love the Fiat Doblo, too, firstly because there’s so much room inside and, secondly, because its sliding rear doors make it so easy for everyone to get in and out. As standard, it comes with five seats, but as an option, you can add another couple, which will turn this into one of the cheapest seven-seaters you can buy. And, whether you go for the five- or seven-seat option, everyone inside will have plenty of room.
As if that wasn’t enough, when you don’t have the seats in use, you can fold them away to leave an enormous boot. Take all five rear seats out of the way and you have 3,200 litres to play with. You can even fit a bike or pushchair in an upright position, because the space is so high.
Back in the day, people used to dismiss MPVs as nothing more than vans with windows and, in the case of the Doblo, that’s just what it is. Mind you, that’s also exactly what makes it so good.
So far, so van-like, but what will surprise you is that the Fiat Doblo is surprisingly car-like to drive and generally pretty comfortable. Or, it is as long as there are a few people in it. If not, the car tends to bounce around a bit; and, the compromise for that level of comfort is that the soft suspension means that the body does tend to roll in corners.
Given that this is a big car that’s designed to carry big loads or lots of people, it’s no surprise that it’s at its best with a diesel engine – although, if you spend a lot of time in town without much on board, the petrol might be worth a look.
Despite being based on a van, the Fiat Doblo has plenty of car-like safety features, such as anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and an electronic stability programme, as well as driver, passenger and side airbags right across the range.
In other respects, though, the Fiat Doblo isn’t all that well equipped if you look at the most basic models. However, they are cheap, so if you just want a lot of space without many bells or whistles for not much money, they work out as good value. Trouble is, if you consider a model higher up in the rev range because you want more equipment, it can look rather expensive. You’ll be better off buying a ‘proper’ MPV instead.