Fiat Doblo range - A VAN WITH A PLAN
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Collectively, the assembled protagonists in the van-based MPV sector might do little to stir the emotions or fire the imagination but few vehicles can touch them when it comes to sheer, unadulterated practicality. This is certainly true of Fiat's Doblo - a van with a mission, to seat up to seven and still have space left over. June Neary investigates
Will It Suit Me?
Fiat are calling out to all family buyers on a budget with their Doblo MPV. Admittedly, the vehicle is suited more to those with a large family and a small budget than vica versa, but you get the general idea of the people to whom this spruced-up commercial vehicle will appeal. Anyone with designs on luxury and head-turning looks can probably afford to look away now, but those in the hunt for a well-appointed, spacious, 5 or 7-seater with a suitably small sticker price might want to pay closer attention.
The Fiat Doblo's battle for supremacy in the van-based MPV market sees it principally drawing swords against the three musketeers - the van-based MPV offerings from French manufacturers Renault, Citroen and Peugeot. These are known as the Kangoo, Berlingo Multispace and Partner Tepee respectively. As is right and proper, the versatile Italian has style on its side. Although all four combatants look, for the most part, like vans. At least the Doblo shares its visual characteristics with the Doblo Cargo - arguably the most strikingly sculpted vehicle in the hi-cube van sector and all the better for a recent facelift.
Today's Doblo has an almost 4x4-like look to it. A chunky grille, bigger headlamps and wider underbumper intakes add a little extra presence. The styling is more distinctive than handsome but this is still a sizable feather in the Doblo's cap, especially considering the rather bland, 'commercial-vehicle-with-windows', looks of the Gallic contingent. If you want to own a van-based MPV while retaining even a modicum of street-cred, the Doblo is the only vehicle worth attempting it in.
Does the Fiat Doblo suit me? It's a question that could easily be taken the wrong way. Nobody, after all, really wants to be shoehorned into this particular niche market. It's just something that happens through a combination of budget constraints and practical necessity. "Does this Range Rover fit in with your lifestyle?" "Why yes, I think we're a prefect match." "Do you feel at home in this Ferrari 612 Scaglietti?" "Of course, it's like I've found my motoring soul mate." Does this Fiat Doblo suit you?" "Are you taking the Mickey?!" It might not be much of a fashion statement but it'll get you, your family and a mountain of luggage, safely and cheaply from A to B.
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