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Fiat Doblo MPV (2009 – ) expert review

By Andy Goodwin, 15th November 2010

The verdict

The Fiat Doblo is now an even more practical five- or seven-seat people carrier, which has more luggage space than other van-derived MPVs including the Peugeot Partner Tepee.

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Expert rating:

3.5

Pros

  • Huge load space
  • Good to drive
  • Economical engines

Cons

  • Looks an acquired taste
  • Huge hatchback hard to open and close
  • Lacks clever storage ideas

Full Review

1. Exterior

There’s no getting away from the commercial-vehicle roots of the Fiat Doblo. It has been designed to offer the ultimate in interior space, rather than to look sleek from the outside in a similar style to the Peugeot Partner Tepee. There are some neat features though, like the black window pillars which give the glass a wrap-around appearance and make it look less top-heavy. The hexagonal grille and headlights echo other models in the range and alloy wheels are available.

Our rating: 2

2. Interior

The dashboard is surprisingly pleasant, with some car-like touches including the tactile steering wheel. The stereo and instrument dials are clear and have an attractive orange glow at night, and there’s a TomTom sat-nav holder built into the dashboard. Below the dashboard and around the rest of the Doblo, the plastics are more functional, but seem hard-wearing enough even if they aren’t too attractive.

Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

Short of a Ford Transit, the Doblo is one of the most practical vehicles money can buy. Its boot has 790 litres of space with all five seats in place, growing to 3,200 litres with them stowed. We easily carried two fully assembled mountain bikes and luggage in the boot. Two further seats are available as an optional extra if a seven-seater is required. Rear access is aided by twin sliding rear doors and a large, flat and low boot opening. Headroom is considerable and there’s enough legroom too. There are storage bins in the usual places, as well as one above the windscreen. Our only complaint is the difficulty opening and closing the huge rear hatch, which requires lots of clearance to open and a fairly strong pull to close.

Our rating: 5

4. Ride and handling

The Doblo is more competent and fun to drive than it looks, thanks to positive handling and good steering. It’s a feeling aided by excellent visibility through the huge front and side windows, allowing the driver to place the sizeable Doblo on the road with confidence. It’s generally comfortable too, but can become bumpy over challenging surfaces. Competition is tough, however, and the Partner Tepee and Citroen Berlingo Multispace are just as good to drive.

Our rating: 3

5. Performance

There’s one petrol engine and two diesels to choose from. The 1.4-litre petrol has 95bhp and offers mediocre performance, and we expect it to be unpopular in the UK. A 1.6- and 2-litre diesel engine offer 105 and 135bhp with reasonable acceleration. The former is the best all-round engine, but it’s worth spending extra on the 2-litre if planning on lots of long-distance driving. The diesels are quite noisy around town but improve at speed and are reasonably quiet on the motorway.

Our rating: 3

6. Running costs

The petrol averages 39mpg and emits 166g/km of CO2. The smaller diesel engine is the star of the range with 54mpg average consumption and emissions of 138g/km of CO2, while the 2-litre averages 49.6mpg and emits 150g/km. The 1.6 is significantly cleaner and a little more economical than the Partner Tepee and slightly better than the Berlingo Multispace.

Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

With a solid engine and a relatively simple design we’d expect few problems with the Doblo. Fiat has a poor reliability record. However, this is improving as its new models suffer fewer problems than in the past.

Our rating: 3

8. Safety

Fiat has included anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and electronic stability programme as standard to help prevent skids, and there are driver, passenger and side airbags fitted across the range. We are expecting the new Doblo to perform much better in EuroNCAP crash tests than its predecessor, which only managed three stars.

Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

There are some impressive features available, including climate control and Blue&Me Bluetooth, MP3 and USB connectivity. Entry-level Active trim is basic and has a Radio/CD player and electric front windows. Dynamic cars add air-con, remote central locking and a height-adjustable driver’s seat. Eleganza Doblos get electric rear windows, fog lights, heated door mirrors, leather steering wheel and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

If space is at the top of the checklist, few models come close to the Fiat Doblo with its 3,200-litre boot.

Our rating: 4

Expert review 3.5stars

  • Exterior2
  • Interior3
  • Practicality5
  • Ride and handling3
  • Performance3
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability3
  • Safety4
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?4

Our recommendations

Best on a budget

Fiat Doblo 1.4 16V Active

The cheapest Doblo is great value at just over £12k

Best-seller

Fiat Doblo 1.6 MultiJet Dynamic

The most economical Doblo and a reasonable level of equipment

Blow the budget

Fiat Doblo 2.0 MultiJet Eleganza Family

Best engine for distance driving, seven seats and all the gadgets

The Doblo is one of the most practical vehicles money can buy