The Fiat Fiorino may be small but it could be perfectly formed for the modern urban environment. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at the revised version.
Ten Second Review
With a 610kg payload limit and a 2.5m3 load volume, the Fiat Fiorino isn't the biggest van out there. Luckily, it makes up for its lack of bulk with impressive manoeuvrability and low running costs, while featuring one of the best small diesel engines there is, made still more efficient for this revised model. Less at home on the open road, the Fiorino is nevertheless a great antidote to the woes of urban van operators.
As our cities and urban areas continue to indulge their penchant for expansion and sprawl, commercial vehicles may have to undergo a spot of shrinkage to cope. At least that's the view at Fiat where the compact Fiorino van is being touted as the ideal solution for operators that find themselves beset by congestion and plagued by soaring costs.
The Fiorino is Fiat's smallest purpose-built van. The Italian firm will also supply you with a commercial version of its Punto supermini but its teeny load carrying capacity precludes it for many. The Fiorino delivers a reasonably spacious load bay coupled with micro dimensions that should make the cuts and thrusts of metropolitan motoring that bit easier to avoid. The van, like the mainstay of Fiat's light commercial vehicle range, was created in partnership with PSA Peugeot Citroen. This means that prospective buyers can obtain vehicles that are borderline identical to the Fiorino in the shape of the Peugeot Bipper and Citroen Nemo. Fiat, of course, would prefer that they didn't.
The engine line-up is a key reason why operators might choose the Fiorino instead of the Peugeot and Citroen models that share its platform. Fiat has installed its acclaimed Euro6-compliant 1.3-litre Multijet oil-burner rather than the 1.4-litre diesel used by its French partners. The unit comes with either 80 or 95bhp and is extremely compact and lightweight, giving rise to excellent fuel economy and with at least 190Nm of torque, it feels strong as well. With that maximum torque produced at 1,750rpm, the Fiorino has the punchy element to its performance that's perfect for darting in and out of traffic. It also has the accurate steering and tight turning circle that operators want when space is tight.
The alternative to the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel is a 1.4-litre petrol powerplant with 77bhp. Here torque of 118Nm is produced at 2,600rpm so there's less urgency at low revs but the petrol is smooth, refined and, crucially, costs less. Petrol tends to be routinely avoided by van buyers but the low-mileage, urban usage for which the Fiorino was designed might make unleaded a viable option for some. All models get a five-speed manual gearbox as standard but the diesel is available with the 6-speed Comfort-Matic sequential manual transmission which can operate in automatic mode.
Design and Build
In terms of style, the front bumper of this revised Fiorino has been restyled but otherwise, not much has changed in terms of the exterior aesthetics. So this van retains the high-mounted headlamps that are not only synonymous with its identity but also have a practical role in improving visibility and ensuring they are less susceptible to parking mishaps. Smarter 15-inch wheel covers and 15-inch, diamond finish, burnished alloy wheels complete the external revisions. As ever, the Fiorino has been designed with the urban environment very much in mind. The wheels are pushed to the corners of the vehicle to maximise interior space and manoeuvrability while keeping the van compact and wieldy.
Inside, the redesigned steering wheel is available with remote stereo controls and leather trim. The instrument cluster gets revised graphics with permanent backlighting for better visibility. Plus an extra storage compartment has been added to the dashboard. A new, five-inch, colour, touchscreen infotainment system is also offered for the first time, with Bluetooth, USB/AUX ports and available satellite navigation and DAB radio. As before, the interior of the Fiorino will feel a little confined to those familiar with full size compact vans but there's reasonable space for driver and passenger. The driving position is upright and affords a good view of your surroundings with the seat and the steering wheel offering a good range of adjustability. Lots of the switchgear will be familiar to owners of Fiat passenger cars and these days the Italian firm is well up to speed in terms of build quality. The general impression is one of user-friendliness and sturdy design.
Market and Model
Even base versions of this Fiorino van are reasonably well equipped, including items like power steering, a CD stereo, height adjustment for the steering wheel and driver's seat, plus a ladder frame bulkhead. Further up the range, you get remote central locking, a nearside sliding side door, electric windows, electric mirrors and other extras. Safety-wise, this Fiorino offers all the safety systems of its predecessor: ABS braking with EBD, ESC stability control complete with ASR, a Hill Holder clutch, parking sensors and front and side airbags.
Here's also a Combi model with a row of seats in the back. And, for drivers who need to tackle rough terrain or simply want to take on the winter weather with confidence, there's an Adventure version that offers 15-inch wheels with specific M+S tyres, raised suspension, oversized body protection, a front bumper with skid plate and Fiat's 'Traction+' electronic differential lock system which assists driving in low-grip conditions.
Practicalities and Costs
Fiat's Fiorino is small. 3,864mm long and 1,589mm wide, it's a compact van with the footprint littler that most superminis. Despite this, there's a 2.5m3 load volume to play with and a payload capacity of 610kg. That volume can be increased by means of an optional folding passenger seat which flops down to increase capacity to 2.8m3. It may not sound like much but it increases the available load length from 1,523mm to 2,491mm which is really handy when you're trying to cram longer items inside. The load bay is accessed through asymmetrically-split rear doors on the standard model with one or two sliding side doors available from the options list. The apertures behind these side doors are narrow so large items will have to go in through the rear where there's a low 527mm loading height and 1,064mm between the wheelarches.
The Fiorino should prove extremely economical to run, particularly in Multijet diesel form. Best of the bunch if you go for the diesel is the 'EcoJet' variant. This employs fuel-saving technologies such as a Start & Stop system, a 'smart' alternator and a variable displacement oil pump. Paired with a Comfort-Matic robotised transmission, it achieves 74.3mpg on the combined cycle, with emissions of 100g/km of CO2, meaning a fuel saving of up to 14% compared to the manual transmission without EcoJet.
If van drivers can give up some of the carrying capacity they're used to, Fiat can give them lower running costs and extra manoeuvrability in the shape of this improved Fiorino van. It's a trade off that some will be only too happy to make with the Fiorino proving well-suited to the trials and tribulations of getting about modern towns and cities.
The space available, both in the cabin and in the load area, will be the major concern for operators looking at the Fiorino. For some, there just won't be enough room to cover all eventualities. Those than can manage, however, get a vehicle ideally suited to its role, with the excellent 1.3-litre diesel engine giving the Fiorino a key advantage over its sister vehicles from Peugeot and Citroen.