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MiniPlus Article
February 25 2019
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

Fishwick's Iveco Daily minis deliver versatility

The Iveco Daily continues its resurgence as the basis of a minicoach with David Fishwick, which offers a good variety of options including a luxury specification and a plug door on vendor van-derived models

Fishwick’s Daily vendor van option comes with a powered plug door

High-specification minicoaches based on the Iveco Daily continue to gain traction in the UK. One of the latest dealers with such a product is David Fishwick. At 5,500kg GVW, it offers various options on two vehicle lengths that permit up to 22 seats.

Among them are vendor van-based options. A vendor van is partially converted to passenger-carrying specification by Iveco in Italy.

That work is made up of the addition of side glazing and a powered plug door. To the specification used by Fishwick in vendor vans, a three-litre, 180bhp engine coupled to the acclaimed Hi-Matic eight-speed automatic gearbox is fitted.

Fishwick also offers Daily-based minicoaches that are fully converted from panel vans in the UK. They can be configured to the same specification as a vendor van, with one exception: No plug door is available. For that, a vendor van is mandatory.

Both vendor vans and panel van conversions offer a variety of options, including two roof heights and two overall lengths; a 4,100mm wheelbase is standard across the range, as is the 5,500kg GVW. The length variation is in the rear overhang.

Fishwick initially ordered three vendor vans. All have the highest roof and all are to the maximum length, as it believes that combination will be the most popular. Only one remains unsold, and while they are not to the exact specification that further vendor vans will be, they give a good idea of what is possible.

The level of internal choice is good. Vendor vans give the same scope for a mixture of seats and luggage capacity as van conversions, and they can be specified with 16, 19 or 22 seats.

16 seats on the longer variant gives a huge amount of boot space, complete with a shelf to maximise capacity. In 22-seat format on the same vehicle there is no boot, while the 19-seat arrangement at both lengths is a useful halfway house.

Brusa Create seats finished in leather are an option across the range

Specified to suit

As all of its Daily-based models are fitted out in the UK, Fishwick has been able to carry over internal aspects of its established Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-based conversions.

That scope includes various options for high-specification flooring, leather seats and much else. For buyers wanting a full suite of additional fittings, Fishwick has defined a luxury specification for an additional cost that is less than configuring each aspect individually.

But Daily minicoaches are not exclusively about luxury. Fishwick also serves a market for cost-conscious products, and it can offer more basic models (on both vendor vans and panel van conversions) where items are deleted to bring the price down.

Fishwick will obtain more vendor vans soon. It has panel vans for conversion available from stock, including one with a premium chassis specification that includes the 180bhp engine plus Hi-Matic gearbox. Otherwise, panel vans have the F1C at 150 bhp and a manual transmission.

Fishwick believes that its Daily-based minicoaches are priced attractively. For 16-, 19-, and 22-seat maximum length, high-roof vendor vans, they begin at £56,995, £58,495 and £59,995 respectively; for a medium-roof, standard-length panel van conversion, prices start at £49,995.

The luxury specification, which adds £10,000, gives extra fittings that are further described below. The most basic trim level removes £2,000 from the above figures. All prices are plus VAT.

Building blocks

Either a standard boot or a dropwell arrangement can be specified in minicoaches with rear luggage space. The 22-seat configuration - available only on maximum-length Dailys - can be fitted with a quick-release rear row of seats, allowing them to be slid forward to create storage.

Two boot sizes are possible, including this very spacious arrangement

Additionally, Fishwick is converting a maximum-length Daily panel van with quick-release fixings on the rear three rows of seats and a moveable bulkhead. That will allow it to act as a 16-, 19-, or 22-seater to suit the operator’s requirements.

For additional luggage space, minicoaches without a dropwell boot can be specified with a towbar.

The 430Nm of torque from the F1C engine at its 180bhp rating should make easy work of a trailer, and 22 passengers plus extensive luggage space will be an attractive proposition for operators engaged in work such as airport transfers.

Passenger amenities

Fishwick recently had two vendor van conversions at its Colne base, and miniplus was able to look at both and drive one. As finished, they have a step up to a raised rear area, although headroom there is still in excess of 6ft.

Two wheelchair accessibility options are available: One, where the step in the saloon remains, allows carriage of up to four such passengers, while if the step is moved to the front to give an entirely flat floor, up to six wheelchair users can be accommodated. The package includes a PLS Access Lite lift, rear working lights, a reverse warning beeper and quick-release tracking fitted as required.

Seats as standard are the Buckingham model from Prime Passenger Seating with three-point belts. They are to an adequate specification, but if the buyer wishes to go further upmarket then the Brusa Create model is available.

In 16- and 19-seat models the Create 100 is used, and at 22 seats the Create 80. Both variants are finished in leather, and they each include armrests, drop-down tables and magazine nets.

Brusa seats are standard with the luxury conversion package, as is upgraded LED lighting, Flotex floor covering, a reversing camera, USB charging points, full-draw curtains, saloon air-conditioning and many other items including body styling.

Step arrangement is good, and flooring is finished in Flotext wood-effect

If the Prime seats are retained, Fishwick can offer a variety of moquette colours. The market is also driving interest in alternative fabrics that Fishwick keen to explore.

For the driver

Subsequent vendor van-based Dailys supplied by Fishwick will have a multifunction steering wheel along with a suspended driver’s seat with an armrest. As standard, the driver’s seat is retrimmed to match those in the passenger area.

Electrically-adjusted mirrors are fitted, and visibility is further helped by the vendor van’s BCE plug door. It is glazed from top to bottom; while it is slower in operation than some others, that is down to gearing, which ensures that the seal is maintained in windy weather.

The door has two safety functions. If the handbrake is released while it is open, the engine automatically cuts out, and the door then closes. It also closes when drive is selected.

Controls for the Eberspächer auxiliary heater are close at hand, and fitted as standard is in-dash air-conditioning.

Luxury package

One of the vendor vans has the luxury conversion package with 16 seats. It thus comes with saloon air-conditioning, also from Eberspächer, and it has a cavernous boot; to 16-seat layout, Fishwick also enhances pitch by around an inch over a 19- or 22-seater.

As this vendor van is a seed vehicle, it has a couple of elements that will be changed on later examples. Two sliding side window vents at the rear will go, while the lack of tint on side glazing will be addressed. The Brusa seats are very nicely finished, and the overall impression when boarding is welcoming.

The passenger service units on the underside of the luggage racks are comprehensive, and the blue LED lighting from both the steps into the seating area and from strips on the underside of the luggage racks is classy.

The driving experience of the Daily is good, helped by Hi-Matic gearbox

On a cold day the minicoach warmed up nicely, even without recourse to the Eberspächer heater.

On the road

Fishwick gave the opportunity to drive the 16-seat vendor van-based minicoach described above. With the luxury conversion package, it retails at £66,995 plus VAT.

Much is already known of the Euro 6 Daily. It is a revelation, and the driving experience matches anything else in its category thanks principally to the Hi-Matic. It is a badge engineered ZF 8HP model that sees use in luxury cars, a pedigree that means it is super-smooth.

In fact, combined with the engine’s muted tones, the only indication of a change having been made when driving normally is usually the tachometer, although the F1C becomes more vocal when pushed hard.

With 180bhp on tap in a minicoach that weighs 3,100kg unladen, such urgency is not often necessary. Engine speeds are usually kept very low, and that will have a positive influence on fuel economy; during urban driving, the F1C rarely gets too far above tickover.

Once free from 30mph speed limits, the Daily pushes along well. It made easy work of the A6068 from Colne towards Keighley, easily keeping up with other traffic. Equally, when on flat, straight roads, it is no slouch. Negotiating villages is also easy. The Iveco has a car-like feel that makes this task much simpler than it would be in a larger coach.

When heading towards Skipton, strong side winds put Iveco’s claim about the plug door’s seal qualities to the test. It did indeed remain tight, and no whistling could be heard despite gusts with enough force to require steering correction.

Full of potential?

Although a hiatus in the availability of maximum-length Sprinter vans during the transition to the new model has helped Iveco, it will soon once again have a fight on its hands in this sector, and MAN’s TGE also promises competition.

That makes it a buyer’s market, and the Daily is up to the challenge. It drives superbly, and it offers perhaps the best passenger experience of a front-engined minicoach; the F1C engine is refined and it does not intrude unduly into the saloon. At 180bhp, it is also more than up to pulling a trailer or working in tough territory, and the Hi-Matic delivers refinement and excellent driveability.

Fishwick can provide a variety of capacities and specification levels on both vendor van and panel van conversions. The former’s powered plug door will tick a box for some buyers, and it opens up a new market sector to the dealer. These minicoaches are well worth a look.

Facts and figures

Retail price: £66,995
Engine: 3.0-litre, four-cylinder Iveco F1C
Power: 132kW (180bhp) @3,500rpm
Emissions: Euro 6 using EGR and SCR
Gearbox: Hi-Matic eight-speed automatic
Tyres: 195/75 R16
Fuel economy: 21.0mpg (expected)
Length: 7.63m
Height: 2.94m
Width: 2.01m
Wheelbase: 4.10m
GVW: 5,500kg
UVW: 3,100kg

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