Professional Builder discovers that Iveco has a “four” midable offering of materials carriers to meet the “Daily” requirements of the most discerning builders.
As Jesse, one of our favourite characters from the highly amusing Fast Show of a few years back, would have extolled: “this month I have mostly been driving Iveco’s.” In fact, we could go even further and say, for us, it was quite literally a Daily occurrence during April, as we took a crash course in what this iconic Italian motoring giant has to offer those at the sharp end of the construction industry.
It began appropriately enough on April 1st and, yes, that fool on the hill was us as we made our way from the Iveco Press garage in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, up and over the windswept Downs in the flagship 3.5t panel van. Conceived more than forty years ago, and manufactured in Turin at the foothills of the Alps, the 2.3 litre engine positively purred as we swept past the famous Whipsnade Zoo and we could have sworn that was a roar of approval from the famous White Lion carved into the chalk of the rolling Chiltern Hills.
It’s fair to say that the International Vehicle Corporation has consistently pursued its own automotive agenda and, in a world of big beast collaborations and amalgamations, the fundamental design for a heavy-duty commercial vehicle has remained resolutely independent. In fact, the Daily in all its multitudes of configurations remains the only LCV offering where the chassis is separate from the body, just as in the heavy truck world. That makes for greater potential payloads, up to six tonnes and above thereby providing an alternative to a seven-tonne truck without any loss of payload.
The clever bit, of course, is combining all that extra carrying capacity with a vehicle that drives and performs like the more familiar 3.5 tonne panel or dropside vans, which are the backbone of so many small businesses. The range under the Daily badge is certainly extensive, but it clearly doesn’t try and be all things to all workmen. If, for instance, you are looking for the cheapest way to transport tools and materials to site, then probably best to look away now because this will not be the solution for you. It’s always been resolutely a premium product at a premium price but, once experienced, businesses keep signing up for more of the same peace of mind which comes with all that structural strength and toughness.
What you also get in spades is a level of technology and comfort that betrays that HGV heritage, and which was quite obviously taken to unprecedented levels following the launch of the 2019 version. Outwardly, little changed from a major refresh a couple of years previously but, in the ensuing years, Iveco doggedly canvased its customer base on what they would like to see included to improve their Daily driving experience. Not surprisingly, this centred around three core elements, driver comfort, fuel economy and technology, both in the cab and in safety and driver assistance departments. The “Change Your Business Perspective” which was proudly emblazed on our test vehicle is all about megatrends and buzzwords such as digitalisation, automation, electrification, and serviceability, but in simple layman’s terms, the object here is to provide a vehicle which significantly increases the owner’s profitability, which has to be a good thing.
Fundamental to this is the engine, with a choice of four large, Euro 6LD compliant diesel engines, the FIA 2.3-litre option with ratings from 116 to 156hp (our model was rated 136) in both light and heavy-duty homologation and the 3-litre heavy duty FIC engine with increased performance from 160 TO 210hp. All are available with a choice of Hi Matic automatic or six speed manual gearboxes –more than enough power there to cope with load volumes that start at 7.3m3 and expand to a positively cavernous 19m3 with added fuel savings claimed over previous incarnations. Some of the finer intricacies of the in-cab technology would trouble an Oxford Don, let alone a humble construction worker – or trade journalist, for that matter – but business operators are empowered with all the necessary data to maximise the efficiency of every journey.
A range of headline grabbing driver assistance systems are also part of the package, including advanced emergency braking and city Brake PRO, adoptive cruise control with queue, active lane, and crosswind assists. One of the areas which received notable input from the Iveco boffins is the steering system, which has been completely redesigned to provide axial and angular adjustment to set up the optimum driving position. The smaller leather multifunctional steering wheel feels more car like and puts a wide range of controls at your fingertips creating more legroom and adding to overall comfort. Our ride experience certainly benefited from a significant load and this after all is a vehicle which is designed to properly earn its keep with a full payload in this case of up to 1,232kg.
At its core, the most current Daily remains instantly recognisable with a tweak to the front grille, providing improved ventilation and protection whilst accident prone builders will welcome the introduction of a bumper that is divided into three sections, so that in a small bump, only one damaged piece needs to be replaced, reducing repair costs and down time.
And talking of the folding stuff, our top of the range highly spec-ed test vehicle has an on-the-road starting price of a possibly eye-watering £42,635, including, it must be said, a whole host of options totalling over £6,000. The 3.5t version is quite clearly a lot more dough than the average builders’ van but, then again, this is a vehicle which has a long and well-deserved reputation for delivering the bread on a daily basis.
One of the few advantages of falling in to the more mature age bracket (apart from being first in the queue for the Covid Jab, of course) is that those acquiring a car driving licence before 1st Jan 1997 are entitled to drive vehicles up to 7.5tonne under the so called grandfather rights. In actual fact, having youth on your side would probably be preferable, because you certainly need all your wits about you to drive a vehicle of this not inconsiderable bulk around a congested town or city centre. It’s certainly the closest most of us will ever get to feeling like a proper trucker. The surprising thing with the mighty Daily 70C19HA8V, to give its full title, is that if you forget the sheer vastness of the space behind you, it still has the driving position and sizing feel of a van. The only obvious concession is a heavy truck like suspension seat, which rises up and down to absorb bumps in the road, but can leave the uninitiated feeling a bit queasy after negotiating a slalom of speed humps.
The Daily’s chassis like structure allows for some absolutely enormous body variants, especially in terms of length, so if you need maximum space, and some particularly high payload options up to almost 4,000kg on a regular basis, then it’s worth considering. The mind boggles as to the manoeuvrability of such a beast, but it is also very capable of heavy-duty towing usage.
Our heavily laden test vehicle was powered by the FIC 180HP Euro VID engine which needs every bit of its max torque of 44kgm and 9,430Nm @1500rpm and power of 132kW(180hp) @ 3,500rpm but remember that all vehicles of this size are restricted to 56mph, which can be a tad frustrating with an open road and an obvious surplus of on tap testosterone. The rest of the interior spec is pretty much the same as for the 3.5tonne, version so if you think of that vehicle on steroids, you have a pretty good idea of what is in store. As we say this unequalled level of LCV carrying capacity comes at a premium – currently almost £60,000 – including a raft of optional driving aids and gismos, so you would need to have it earning its keep quite literally on a daily basis. Rumour has it that there is an even larger offering at 10tonne, but we are neither old nor brave enough to take to the high road in that particular specimen!
Two down, two to go. Look out next month to see how we got on with our first experience of an alternative fuel powered Daily and the ubiquitous 6 seat crew Van.
For further information on the Iveco Daily range visit https://www.iveco.com/en-us/press-room/kit/Pages/New-Daily-Range.aspx