Fiat Scudo Review
|Facts At A Glance|
ENGINES:90bhp 1.6 / 120bhp 2.0 / 140bhp 2.0 / Multijet diesels
KERB WEIGHT:(panel vans) 1,661kg-1,763kg
FiatScudo Van Range- DO YOU DO SCUDO?
Fiat’sScudo certainly stands out from the small panel van crowd on looks butcan it attract buyers who prioritise more practical criteria.
Unadventurous, derivative, dull;these charges and others like them are becoming tougher and tougher tolevel at modern panel vans. This category of commercial vehicles wasonce the very embodiment of function over form but in recent years theleading manufacturers have unshackled their designers somewhat,allowing them freedom to inject a spark of creativity into the mix.Where once choosing a panel van for your business was largely anexercise in statistical analysis, now buyers must also ask themselveswhich model they most like the look of.
Fiathope their latest Scudo will attract its fair share of admirers.
Thereare certainly some distinctive-looking panel vans out there at themoment but manufacturers remain unwilling to shoulder the developmentcosts of these vehicles alone. That’s why we see new models brought tomarket by groups of manufacturers with each individual marque brandingthe vehicle as their own. This Scudo, like its predecessor and itsbigger brother the Ducato, is a product of Fiat’s alliance with PSAPeugeot Citroen so you can also get it badged as a Citroen Dispatch ora Peugeot Expert. It’s an unorthodox-looking van whatever insigniaadorns its grille with a steeply raked windscreen, a huge front bumperand dramatically elongated headlamps. The styling themes are definitelymore Peugeot than Fiat with the large front overhang and the bonnetthat rises at the edges before easing up into the A-pillars. Half closeyour eyes, stand on your head and on a foggy morning, you could almostmistake it for a 407.
TheScudo is one of the smaller panel vans you’ll encounter on yourcommercial vehicle search but, crucially, it’s not as small as the oldScudo model it replaced. During its marathon innings that stretchedfrom 1995 to 2007, that model sold some 350,000 units partly becausethere 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 smallerpanel vans like the Volkswagen Transporter and larger little vans likeFord’s Transit Connect, this model goes head to head with the firstgroup. If it’s going to beat these rivals on a level playing field, itwill need to be good.
"TheMultijet diesel engines are predictably strong"
TheScudo range is far broader than before. Buyers can vary the availableload space in their model by selecting from two wheelbases (L1 and L2)and two roof heights (H1 and H2). This gives rise to payload capacitiesbetween 1,000kg and 1,200kg with load volumes of 5m3, 6m3 or 7m3. TheScudo offers a class-leading loading height of just 490mm (which theoptional air-suspension can drop further) and impressive load accesswith full-height rear doors and a sliding side door on each flank. Withopenings of 924mm wide, these sliding side doors are big enough to takea standard Euro pallet. This, along with the 1,245mm loading widthbetween the wheelarches and the square shape of the loadbay generally,helps make the Scudo one of the best small panel vans when it comes toaccommodating larger objects.
Aswell as the panel van models, Fiat are also offering platform cabsready to take all manner of conversions and Combi models with betweenfive and nine seats aimed at taxi firms or even buyers with largefamilies who may have been considering a large MPV. The cab area isimpressively spacious for two passengers with firm, supportive seatingand plenty of adjustment in the driving position. If you specify thefront bench expecting to get three across the front row, you may bedisappointed as the dash-mounted gear lever severely restricts legroomfor the middle passenger.
Thelight grey plastics aren’t of the soft-touch variety but they do seemtough and the layout of the controls is largely conventional with allthe important stuff sited on the steering column itself. For storagethere are narrow door pockets, a large pot in front of the passengerand a small glovebox but you might need that third front seat to sitlarger items on. The overhead shelf increases the oddment spaceavailable but you have to reach up and feel about blindly for anythingyou’ve put in there, so leave that box of roofing tacks in theglovebox. Standard equipment includes a CD stereo, power steering,remote central locking and a height adjustable driver’s seat.
TheScudo cabin sits noticeably lower than other small panel vans and thishas advantages when it comes to getting in and out. You don’t have tohoist yourself up to the driving seat and once you’re there, the actualdriving position is more like that of an MPV than a van. This hasadvantages in terms of comfort on longer trips but you do loose out alittle on visibility. The Scudo sits you a long way back from the baseof its steeply raked windscreen, so it’s hard to pinpoint where thenose of the van is on parking manoeuvres and the long front overhangmeans that the turning circle isn’t particularly tight.
Onthe open road, the Scudo is very pleasant to drive with the suspensiontaking care of the bumps admirably and the light steering easilyadjustable. The Scudo corners with good body control for such ahigh-sided vehicle and the braking is assured with ABS and EBD asstandard. Without a full bulkhead, noise levels in the cab are quitehigh but the Multijet diesel engines are predictably strong.
Don’tnecessarily let the modest 1.6-litre capacity of the Scudo’sentry-level engine put you off. This 90bhp unit chips in with a sizable180Nm torque rating and it will be more than adequate if you do most ofyour driving around town. The 2.0-litre engines are stronger for thosecarrying bigger loads on longer trips. There’s the choice of 120bhp or140bhp power here and that means torque of 300Nm or 320Nm, both at alowly 2,000rpm. These are excellent commercial vehicles engines withstrong economy and power enough to make you question the need for thelager 2.5-litre units employed by some rivals. The 120bhp 2.0-litre isprobably the pick of the range.
TheFiat Scudo is definitely a strong product with flamboyant styling for apanel van but whether it has the wherewithal to tempt buyers away fromtheir Vivaros and Transporters remains to be seen. Where the previousScudo had its unique halfway house dimensions to set it apart, thislarger Scudo must tackle the class leaders directly. Many will chooseit on merit with the punchy, economical engines, cab comfort andversatile load area being particular draws but ultimately, Fiat will behappy to settle for a smaller slice of a larger pie.