BALANCING ACT

Peter Shields

Prime Mover

01/10/2016

THE DUAL CAB CHASSIS VARIANT OF THE IVECO DAILY IS TRYING TO MASTER THE AGE-OLD BALANCING ACT BETWEEN LIGHT TRUCK VERSATILITY AND CAR-LIKE PERFORMANCE. HOW FAR CAN IT STRETCH?

In the past, when crew cab light trucks were predominantly used in the road service industry, they were typically underpowered, tight and uncomfortable. With the new 50C version of the Daily van, Iveco is now trying to move away from that stereotype and bring more of a car feeling to the segment - with success. Despite ample load capacity and the ability to seat six passengers in relative comfort, Iveco's new model has not much in common with the old crew cabs of the past anymore. Instead, it has morphed into a veritable performance vehicle that accelerates and handles better than a lot of family sedans.

One reason for the model's successful foray into the automotive world is the new three-litre diesel engine Iveco added to the mix. With the help of a two-stage turbocharger, it is able to develop some 205hp (150kW) and the maximum torque of 470 Nm is available from as low as 1,400 rpm. Combined with a snappy six-speed manual transmission - fourth is direct while the next two gears serve as an overdrive - Iveco's little truck is surprisingly powerful from the get-go.

And, the sporty performance isn't just restricted to engine power. The optional, electronically adjustable airbag rear suspension and the standard torsion bar independent front suspension provide almost sportscar-like handling without much hint of the harsh ride expected from a commercial vehicle.

At the end of the day, however, that's exactly what it is - a commercial vehicle. According to Iveco, many clients opt for the short 3,750mm wheelbase version of the 50C to be connected to a large fifth wheel caravan or horse float, appreciating the fact that it does, in fact, pull more than many a standard vehicle. The turning circle of around 13.5m for the short wheelbase is helpful in that context too, saving 1.5m over the 4,350mm version.

To cater for the recreational market, our demo unit is loaded up with the optional heated 'captain's chair' passenger seat to match the same one that the driver gets as standard. The absence of a third front seat and the Daily's flat floor allow for walk-through access to the rear passenger area. Other options fitted include satellite navigation and a reversing camera.

Regardless of the application, the powerful performance of the 50C doesn't necessarily convert to thirst: During our 800km test run, we use around 10.2 litres per 100km. Also a positive is the array of the safety technology on board. Iveco's optional stability control package includes Traction Control, Hydraulic Brake Assist, Hill Hold, Adaptive Load Control, Trailer Sway Mitigation, Roll Movement and Roll Over Intervention and a brake fade compensator. If all of that doesn't help prevent an accident, then driver, passenger and curtain airbags and seat belt pretensioners are standard.

Back in the cab, storage is in plentiful supply - from fold-out bins on the base of the front doors through to a large storage area under the four-passenger rear seat. The overhead console also has ample storage space and there are three lidded storage areas across the top of the dash, too.

The body fitted to this demo is manufactured by Capital Body Works in Tamworth and has a checker plate steel floor and steel drop sides. A nice touch are the load restraint eyes that fold flat into the floor when not in use. What we learn is that the C-section chassis is very truck like and thus body builder friendly. In line with that, a 5,000kg CVW rating option is available if the driver holds a light truck licence.

So, where does the Iveco Daily 50C fit in - after all, there are not too many compromises evident in the unit's ability to combine load and people carrying capacities with impressive performance and handling? The answer may be somewhere in the middle. Behind the wheel, the driver quickly forgets that the 50C is a truck capable of performing serious work with a load on the back. It's fun and comfortable to drive and our test package doesn't leave too much extra to be desired. But while the small diameter steering wheel and the climate controlled air conditioning add to the car-like experience, it is still very much a tool to get the job done. And that's a good thing