Iveco Daily Minibus E6: Review
Iveco ups the ante in Australia's minibus market with new power, more safety, and greater comfort…
There's no shortage of options in Australia's minibus market, and so to keep the pack on its toes Iveco Australia recently welcomed its new Daily Minibus E6 range.
With a new Euro 6-compliant engine, the adoption of ZF's eight-speed 'Hi-Matic' automatic transmission and a raft of advanced safety systems, the new range also comes with a lengthy list of features that raise the practicality, comfort and luxury of these passenger-transport workhorses.
Gang of three
The range comprises three new models: the Shuttle 12, the Shuttle 16, and the Executive 16. The 12-seater model features four lots of double seats behind the driver with three nearside seats behind the side door, with an L-shaped luggage area at the rear. While the Shuttle 12 has room for 11 passengers and one driver, the Shuttle 16 (and it's up-spec sibling, the Executive 16), actually has room for 16 passengers and one driver. Its seats are laid out in a 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 4 format, with a rectangular luggage space at the rear.
The 4500kg GVM Shuttle 12 comes in the one 3520mm wheelbase and the one 1820mm (H2) ceiling height, while the Shuttle 16 (6100kg GVM) and Executive 16 (6500kg GVM) come in a 4100mm wheelbase – the Shuttle 16 with the same 1820mm ceiling height and the Executive 16 with a higher 2010mm (H3) ceiling height.
All three variants are powered by Iveco's Euro 6-compliant 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, said to produce 125kW (170hp) at 3500rpm and 400Nm from 1350rpm to 3000rpm. And in all three that engine has been mated to ZF's eight-speed 'Hi-Matic' automatic transmission, which first appeared during the last major Daily update in 2015. Iveco Australia says a "slightly more powerful" Euro 6 engine will become available later in the year.
Each minibus rolls on a truck-style C-section chassis with independent front suspension and rear airbag suspension, the latter with electronic adjustment. The airbag models aren't due to arrive here until later in the year, so for the official launch of the new Daily Minibus E6 range we made do with prototype models, with firmer leaf-spring set-ups at the rear.
The range actually launched in Europe two years ago, but Iveco says in the time since it's been hard at work 'Australianising' the vehicles to suit our market. That even extends to the seating, which is handled here in Australia by Melbourne-based transport seating specialist, McConnell.
Special mention must be made of the safety systems employed in these vehicles. In addition to basics like anti-lock brakes, the new range comes equipped with Iveco's ESP9 stability control – a suite of features spanning traction control, electronic brake force distribution, drag torque control, hill hold assist, adaptive load control, trailer sway mitigation, rollover mitigation and more. Daytime running lights and lane departure warning are also standard.
Behind the wheel, the driver gets a heated air-suspension seat and an adjustable steering wheel with integrated controls. The standard 'Iveconnect' multimedia system features AM/FM radio, reversing camera display, CD/DVD player and sat-nav. The reversing camera is backed up with reversing sensors, too.
Iveco says the Daily Minibus range can be easily fitted with lifts and wheelchair access for applications like disabled transport and aged-care facilities.
The full Daily Minibus E6 range will go on sale across Iveco's dealer network in the third quarter of 2017.
The wheels on the bus...
On the road The national press launch for the new Daily Minibus E6 was held alongside the launch of the new Iveco Eurocargo E6 and the new seven-tonne GVM Daily 70C18, which saw the nation's motoring press head off in convoy from Iveco's Melbourne headquarters for a run down the Mornington Peninsula. Our route gave us a bit of everything, from motorways to undulating, sometimes steep single carriageway.
Hopping behind the wheel of the Shuttle 16, it's immediately evident this is one remarkably easy-to-drive vehicle – it's no more arduous a task than driving any regular passenger car.
The seating offers plenty of adjustment and the instrument layout is thoroughly logical, with everything within arm's reach. On an unseasonably warm autumn day in Melbourne the air-conditioning worked well – there are outlets both front and rear.
The Shuttle has a bit of a utilitarian feel to it but it's comfortable enough for both driver and passengers and, given the large rear area and the overhead shelving lining on each side, there's plenty of storage.
Passengers get three-point seat belts and tasteful, fabric-upholstered seats, while the aisle is wide enough to afford easy access to the seating at the rear. At the back of the bus, barn-style doors open wide to 270 degrees.
The Shuttle 16 is surprisingly sprightly from a standing start, too, with the 3.0-litre engine rapidly moving into its band of peak torque and the eight-speed auto flicking through its cogs with speed and precision. There's an Eco mode to further fuel economy, which effectively lowers the transmission's shift points.
The bus has plenty of poke for hills and motorway overtakes, although with only three or four people on board and zero luggage we were well short of the vehicle's 6100 kilogram GVM. Engine noise is evident, but it's suppressed well enough for this style of vehicle.
If the Daily Shuttle 16 left a favourable impression, the Daily Executive 16 ramps things up a notch in terms of the comfort and the premium feel.
The Executive 16 is only available in the higher of the two ceiling heights, and it does add immensely to the overall sense of space. Add to this the leather-upholstered seating and the quality vinyl flooring, and it really is a cut above its more basic sibling.
Passengers also benefit from individual overhead LED lighting and air-con vents, and pleated curtains.
It's anyone's guess when the Australian Government will mandate the equivalent of Euro 6 for vehicles here but it's great to see cleaner, greener products beginning to filter through.
However, Iveco's Daily Minibus E6 range is about much more than lower emissions – it's a significant step forward in terms of comfort, ease of use, utility and safety.
For those reasons and more, operators should take a close look at the Daily Minibus E6 when considering their next fleet update.
2017 Iveco Minibus E6 Shuttle 12 / Shuttle 16 / Executive 16 specifications
Engine: 3.0-litre in-line four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Power: 125kW (170hp) at 3500rpm
Torque: 400Nm from 1350rpm to 3000rpm
Emissions: Euro 6 via Selective Catalytic Reduction
Transmission: ZF eight-speed synchromesh 'Hi-Matic' automatic
Front suspension: Independent with shocks and stabiliser bar
Rear suspension: Electronically controlled airbags
GVM: 4500kg / 6100kg / 6500kg
Fuel capacity: 100lt
AdBlue tank: 25lt
Brakes: Four-wheel discs, with ABS and autonomous emergency braking
Safety: ESP9 stability control with traction control, rollover mitigation, trailer sway control, electronic brake force distribution, adaptive load control and more, plus driver's airbag, daytime running lights and lane departure warning