Fiat Doblo

No-frills van-based MPV is very cheap and very practical

7.1
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 10 reviews
  • Very practical
  • Sliding doors
  • Huge boot
  • Top models are pricey
  • Not a looker
  • Ride quality not great
 

£13,775 - £25,697 Price range

 

5 - 7 Seats

 

38 - 60 MPG

Review

The Fiat Doblo is a practical and affordable MPV that gets fairly decent reviews. The experts say it’s surprisingly good to drive, won’t cost too much to run and can carry lots of luggage. The top-end models are too expensive though, and the entry level models don’t come with a lot of standard equipment.

The Fiat Doblo is another mini-MPV that’s based on a van, the Doblo Cargo in this case. The standard pros and cons apply; the huge amount of space and commanding driving position must be balanced against the fact that it isn’t quite as good to drive as a dedicated car.

The Doblo was updated at the start of 2015 with a slimmed-down engine range, new exterior styling and more standard safety kit. The latter includes tyre-pressure monitoring, hill-hold control and stability control.

Cheapest to buy: 1.4-litre Pop petrol

Cheapest to run: 1.6-litre 95hp Easy diesel

Fastest model: 1.6-litre 120hp Easy diesel

Most popular: 1.4-litre Easy Air petrol

The Doblo has a tough, no-frills interior that isn’t very good-looking but should last quite well. It has everything that you might reasonably need and is huge; one reviewer said that getting into a Doblo is “like entering a cathedral”.

The driver’s position is upright, but it’s comfortable and gives a commanding view of the road ahead. Families will love the Doblo; the boot is enormous and tall enough to fit a bike or pushchair in an upright position.

Customers also have the option of having seven seats rather than the standard five, all of which are comfortable, although legroom can be a bit tight in the back. If you fold the rear seats down then you’ve got 3,200 litres to play with, which is an awful lot!

The Doblo is surprisingly car-like to drive and has excellent ride quality – as long as there are a few people in it; otherwise the springy suspension tends to bounces around a bit. The payoff for the ride quality is that the body does tend to roll in corners.

Other manufacturers have been able to eliminate body roll in their vehicles with some clever electronic features, but the price-point of vehicles like the Doblo makes many of these features prohibitively expensive.

The overall ride is pretty good though, even on some of the UK’s more challenging roads and surfaces. However, you will notice the bumps and potholes when driving on some rougher surfaces.

Although the tide is starting to turn a little against diesels with increased taxes, it’s becoming a bit of a cliché that vehicles like the Doblo are better in diesel form than they are in their petrol guises.

There are only a few tests of the petrol engine and the experts tend to agree that the diesel engines are the best bet, with the cheaper, smaller 1.6 MultiJet being the smoothest, most economical and nicest to drive.

The 2.0-litre diesel will deliver the power you need if you regularly fill your Doblo to near capacity but for most buyers, the 1.6 will be more than adequate.

The Doblo’s 1.6-litre MultiJet diesel engine, which delivers 105bhp and 214lb ft of torque, can struggle a little bit in such a large car, although it does perform quite well if you hustle it. The outright performance figures aren’t hugely impressive, taking 13.4 to get from a standstill up to 60mph and is travelling flat out when the speedometer is reading 102mph.

It does cruise well at motorway speeds though and the engine is smooth and reasonably quiet, bar the traditional diesel rattle when you first start it up. The official average fuel consumption figure is 54.3mpg but those who have tested it suggest that 42-45mpg might be a more accurate in real-world use. The CO2 emissions figure of 138g/km isn’t especially good either. Despite the problems this is the best-selling engine and the one that most of the experts recommend in the Doblo.

The Doblo’s 2.0-litre MultiJet diesel engine, which delivers 135hp and 236lb ft of torque is “reasonably quick” according to the motoring journalists that have driven it, though they do say that it can be “a bit noisy.”

It performs quite well though, taking just 11.4 seconds to hit 60mph from a standstill and it will (eventually) reach a top speed of 108mph, a figure that ensures that it has plenty in reserve for relaxed driving at motoring speeds.

The official average fuel consumption figure is 47mpg although owners are unlikely to see anything much above 40mpg in normal use.

The biggest problem that the 2.0-litre engine has is the existence of the 1.6-litre version, which the experts say is smoother, quieter, cheaper to buy and run, and only a little bit slower.

These are general, non-engine specific reviews. They give a nice overview of what the car is like, without focusing on just one engine/version.

The Doblo hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP since the updated testing regime in 2009, but everyone believes that it is now a much safer vehicle than the one that got just a three-star rating back then.

It now comes with anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and an electronic stability programme as standard along with driver, passenger and side airbags that are included right across the range.

The Doblo is never going to offer you and your passenger the kind of protection you will get from some of its more expensive competitors, but that doesn’t mean it should be avoided as it has all the basics pretty much covered for this price-point.

The consensus seems to be that the well-equipped models are too expensive and the cheap models are too basic. This seems to be a pretty common theme running through the Fiat range, but it’s certainly not an issue that is exclusive to the Italian manufacturer.

Fiat has a strong reputation for producing good affordable MPVs ever since the much-acclaimed Multipla, and although the Doblo is a more van-like, it’s still an extremely practical vehicle that will appeal to those that don’t want to follow the crowd.

If you don’t want or need all the bells and whistles, the basic models are good value. If you want to splash-out on optional extras though, you will really need to want a Fiat in particular.

Conclusion

If you think of the Doblo as a “Fiat Panda in shoulder pads and platform shoes” then you won’t go far wrong. It will appeal to families on a budget who appreciate a bargain and are prepared to sacrifice a little to get it.

Just don’t buy a top-of-the-range model; buy a ‘proper’ MPV with a basic trim level instead.

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