Fiat Doblo Estate (2005 - ) review
Read the Fiat Doblo MPV (2009 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.5 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.
- Huge load space
- Good to drive
- Economical engines
- Looks an acquired taste
- Huge hatchback hard to open and close
- Lacks clever storage ideas
At a glance
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.