July 10, 2014
What’s Hot: Sizable load area, good ride comfort, inexpensive.
What’s Not: Only one airbag as standard, vague shifter, no automatic.
X-FACTOR: Capacious and carlike, but not costly - Fiat's 'under the radar' Scudo packs in a load of value.
Vehicle Style: Commercial van
Engine/trans: 88kW/300Nm 2.0 turbo diesel 4cyl | 6-spd manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.4 l/100km | tested: 8.4 l/100km
The Fiat Scudo is one of the least popular vans in its segment, but one of the most attractively-priced.
But we think there is more to it than an attractive price point.
It's a handy and generally liveable goods carrier that is a bit under the radar. So, what does it have to offer a trade buyer, delivery driver or business owner?
- Power windows (one-touch on driver’s side), and power wing mirrors
- Height adjustable driver’s seat and tilt/telescoping steering column
- Bluetooth telephony
- AM/FM/CD stereo, USB and 3.5mm audio inputs
- Steering wheel mounted audio controls
- Cruise control
- Options: Steel cabin bulkhead, three-person bench seat.
The Scudo’s interior plastics aren’t Fiat’s best, and the blue upholstery is, well, an acquired taste.
However the seating position is comfortable and carlike, the mirrors afford a good view of the road behind and vital equipment like Bluetooth telephony and cruise control are standard.
The driver’s seat also adjusts for height, and the steering column is adjustable for both reach and rake.
There’s a good number of storage pockets placed around the cabin plus a deep glovebox, but there’s no middle seat as standard and only one proper cupholder.
There’s what looks like a fold-out cupholder on the passenger side, but it’s just a blanking plate.
A steel bulkhead separating the passenger compartment from the cargo area was fitted to our tester, but it’s a cost option when ideally it should be standard.
It aids comfort by reducing noise and allowing the air conditioning to work more effectively. If we were looking for a work van, we’d be speccing one for sure.
The load area measures 1600mm wide, 1449mm tall and 2584mm long. There’s also 1245mm between the wheelarches, so a standard pallet can be slid in.
All up, there’s six cubic metres of cargo volume, and a total payload weight of 1200kg. Towing capacity on a braked trailer is 1950kg, or 750kg unbraked
Rear barn doors and sliding doors on both sides as standard, with the former able to fold out by 270 degrees to aid forklift loading.
With many vans in the segment only offering one sliding door and a top-hinged tailgate, the Scudo has a commendably accessible load compartment.
The low floor height also facilitates loading and unloading, and optional air-suspension is available for those who frequently carry heavy loads.
ON THE ROAD
- 88kW/300Nm 2.0 turbo diesel inline four
- Six-speed manual transmission, front wheel drive
- MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear suspension
- Disc brakes front and rear.
- 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps, 215/60R16 tyres
Output from the Scudo’s 88kW/300Nm 2.0 litre turbodiesel is far from linear, with a big spike in torque around 2000rpm that rapidly dissipates by 3000rpm.
Turbodiesels (particularly in commercial vehicles) commonly have narrow torque bands, but the Scudo’s is extra-slim and torque delivery is not particularly smooth.
Below 2000rpm there’s a massive shortage of both power and torque.
It means you need to shift often to keep the engine in its sweet spot, and thanks to the six-speed manual’s vague shifter and finnicky clutch, it’s a real chore.
The Scudo doesn’t come with an automatic option either.
It steers and rides well though, and is pretty close to carlike for a mid-size commercial van.
The suspension is on the soft side for a van, which makes us wonder how different it would feel when loaded up to its maximum GVM of 2932kg.
When it comes to reverse parking, the standard rear parking sensors are definitely handy - as are the wide-angle auxiliary side mirrors.
ANCAP rating: The Fiat Scudo has yet to be assessed by ANCAP
Safety features: Stability control, ABS, EBD and traction control are standard on the Scudo, but passenger protection equipment is sparse. A driver’s airbag is standard while a passenger airbag and side airbags are a cost option. Head-protecting curtain airbags aren’t available.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
There’s plenty of choice in the midsize (2.5 to 3.5-tonne GVM) van category, with the current segment leaders being the Toyota Hiace and the Hyundai iLoad.
The Ford Transit Custom is a fresh new player though, and definitely one to consider against the Scudo.
- Ford Transit Custom
- Volkswagen Transporter
- Hyundai iLoad
- Toyota Hiace
- Renault Trafic
- Mercedes-Benz Vito
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Fiat’s strategy with the Scudo is simple: one bodystyle, one engine, one drivetrain, one price.
While there’s little scope to tailor the Scudo to your needs (want a high roof so you don’t have to stoop over in the back? tough luck), it does make choosing a Scudo model easy. And at $28,990, tremendously affordable.
But there are trade-offs.
While the load area is pretty large and the ride and handling almost carlike, the spiky torque delivery of the engine and lacklustre shift-feel makes it less than enjoyable to drive.
The lack of more standard safety gear like a passenger or side-airbags also works against the Scudo, and offering just one functional cupholder is just plain stingy.
On balance though, the Scudo offers a lot of easily-accessed load-lugging capability for your dollar. It's not the best in class, but for many delivery drivers and tradies, that’s the most important attribute by far.