Fiat’s Doblo doubles up as family transport

Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer, looks at Fiat's van-derived Doblo multi-purpose vehicle which is spacious, practical and very versatile.

Engines – Part people-carrier and part van with windows, Fiat's Doblo performs at its best when powered by diesel. The modest 1.3-litre motor will be fine for urban duties but anything more taxing and you'll wish you opted for the beefier 1.9-litre lump. Choosing 1.2-litre petrol power will mean a quieter life but at the expense of load-lugging ability.

Exterior – There's no point hiding its commercial roots, and Fiat's popular light commercial is as boxy as they come. The Doblo passenger variant adds windows and seats, but there's no getting away from its origins. The upside to this is the easy access to its cabin, the rear sliding doors and the sizeable tailgate.

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Interior – In keeping with the light commercial theme, the Doblo people-carrier's interior is more functional than fashionable. When used by an active family this is a good thing – fewer things to break and the interior is easy to clean. Headroom is good thanks to the car's high roof, while the lofty driving position is also a big plus. And with no shortage of storage space the Doblo's boxy shape certainly earns its keep.

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Driving – With its lofty driving position and good all-round visibility, the Doblo makes an excellent car for navigating the urban jungle. The punchy nature of the diesel engines help you keep pace with the traffic, deliver wallet-friendly fuel economy and allow for a relaxed pace on the motorway. Softly-sprung, the Doblo isn't a car to throw around but the trade-off is a comfortable ride.

Ownership – The combination of cabin space and versatility, low running costs and sensible size footprint makes the Doblo an easy car to live with. The car's tough interior makes it a smart choice as a low frills family holdall, while it doesn't take much to convert it into a van with windows if you need the extra carrying capacity.

What to look for – The Doblo's versatility can be its downfall – you need to check for damage to the cabin trim and upholstery. On the outside, parking dents and scrapes should be frowned upon, while a comprehensive service history is a must along with a thorough test drive.

Model history – 2001, Fiat introduces its new Doblo, a low frills people carrier based on its compact light commercial platform. 1.2-litre petrol engine plus 1.3 and 1.9-litre diesel engines offered, along with a tough-looking and flexible interior. Modest standard specification and choice of options. Sliding side doors and big tailgate main plus points.

Reasons to buy – Affordable, practical, family-focused cabin, low running costs.

Reasons to beware – Utilitarian cabin design, softly-sprung – will pitch and roll a lot, 1.2-litre petrol suited only for light duties.

Pick of the range – Doblo 1.9 turbo diesel Multijet Dynamic.

What to pay – 2005 55 �4,525; 2006 06 �5,000; 2006 56 �5,060; 2007 07 �5,605; 2007 57 �5,870; 2008 08 �6,505; 2008 58 �6,815; 2009 09 �7,370; 2009 59 �7,655; 2010 10 �8,250. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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