Iveco New Daily: Test Drive

The Iveco New Daily combines safety, sustainability and connectivity to capture the light commercial vehicle segment. We see how it fares

In the crowded light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment, the Daily has always held its own against strong competition. The New Daily is not a drastic reimagining of one of the brand’s longest running vehicles, but a refinement of a now iconic name that makes a tried-and-tested formula even more practical and attractive to a range of applications.

The automotive industry is driven by three key factors in the 21st century: Safety, sustainability and connectivity. With the New Daily Iveco is targeting each of these aggressively to build what it believes is the best LCV on the market.

It has been over 40 years since the Daily first landed in 1978, which has allowed plenty of time for its present refinements to develop. It was duly rewarded for the third time last year, when the Daily Blue Power took International Van of the Year for cleaning up emissions. Its rugged heritage is owed to the fact it has always used a separate ladder frame, and Iveco continues to use a unique truck-derived chassis for the Daily – though the ease with which it is driven can belie that fact.

Dedicated assembly plants are in Suzzara, Italy and Valladolid, Spain. The first models went on sale 1 September. While there was no minibus available yet (a 16-seat factory minibus was still in production at time of testing) last week routeone put the 3.5t Hi-Matic panel van, on which plenty of conversions will likely be derived, through its paces around Bedfordshire.



Under the bonnet

Built on a 3.52m wheelbase it is motivated by the 2.3-litre four-cylinder F1A diesel engine rated at 156hp, available in both light and heavy homologation. Expected fuel consumption is 27mpg mixed cycle. Also available in the range is the F1C 3.0-litre with increased power levels at 160hp and 210hp. Those looking to alternative fuels have spark-ignited gas engines available, while an electric variant is on the way.

Manual gearboxes and Hi-Matic are available across the range. Start/stop technology is standard on the 2.3-litre engines and Iveco advertises reduced maintenance frequency on the F1A thanks to a new high capacity oil sump of 7.5 litres (standard oil sump retains 5.4 litres).

The F1A engine was developed in response to stricter emissions regulations when it was introduced by being Real-Driving Emissions (RDE) test ready, legislation due to be mandatory in September 2020. RDE will confirm real life Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) results. This will give some users added peace of mind in anticipation of upcoming emissions initiatives.

Quad-leaf suspension at the front and reinforced parabolic springs at the rear permits a GVW of 3,500kg and offers excellent road-holding. Iveco also says its new lightweight alloy wheels permit an extra 10kg of payload. Also developed exclusively for the New Daily are Michelin Agilis 3 tyres, with low rolling resistance for a modest but appreciated fuel saving. Pressure is monitored through dedicated sensors.

Where volumes are concerned, Iveco is yet to officially announce its 2020 sales forecast. It is looking to maximise residual values and is aiming for 20% growth in the LCV market. That could be up to 4,700 units including all weights up to 7.2t, with the 3.5t models taking the majority share.

What numbers of these will be for coach and bus is uncertain, but arguably the Daily has been pushed in this capacity less than many rival models, which is a shame. There will be factory bodies available, though Iveco says its customers have historically favoured local solutions.

The new look

Revisions to the Daily’s face have sharpened its appeal and make it even more distinctive. Handsome LED lights improve visibility and should last the lifetime of the vehicle, and a redesigned three-piece bumper lowers replacement costs if minor damage takes its toll.

Access to the cab is easy enough thanks to a 270° arc on the front doors. When in factory minibus specification a plug door will be fitted on the passenger side and will offer wheelchair accessibility. Iveco has pushed the car-like feel of the interior, and those used to the refinement of modern passenger cars won’t be left wanting.

The adjustable seat means leg room is good and even the tallest drivers should be comfortable behind the wheel. Seating is split between a front bench and suspended drivers seat which soaks up road bumps nicely. Immediately striking is the two-tone dash design with high-res instrument binnacle and central Hi-Connect infotainment system.

Thereon Iveco’s wholehearted adoption of technology in the New Daily blossoms. The less technically minded, or those accustomed to more spartan surroundings, might be daunted by the bristling array of features, but everything should feel familiar and user-friendly to experienced motorists. Many of the features might not be considered ground-breaking on a modern upmarket passenger car but in the LGV sector they shine.

There are a host of assisted driving and safety measures which should put fleet operators’ minds at ease. City Brake Pro, an autonomous onboard braking system, operates from 5km/h and according to Iveco eliminates the risk of collisions up to at least 20km/h and, depending on conditions, can prevent them entirely up to 50km/h. Combined with lane assistance and adaptive cruise control and queue assist (the latter is only available on Hi-Matic models), it provides an excellent line of defence if other means should fail.

The steering wheel, in optional leather, is noticeably car-like, with two-way adjustment for better comfort and 20 integrated switches to keep drivers’ hands on the wheels. All key functions are displayed through seven menus on the instrument binnacle.

The Hi-Connect system, meanwhile, is worthy of discussion on its own. Integrated into the dash, it comprises a high resolution 7in touchscreen with voice recognition, digital audio broadcasting, rear camera, Android and Apple connectivity, and a remote diagnosis system.

Proactive approach

Built on a partnership with Microsoft through the Azure cloud, Hi-Connect puts the Daily in direct contact with Iveco’s Control Room and is monitored in Turin. From there, Iveco specialists can take a proactive approach to diagnostics by providing remote software updates and planning maintenance and servicing in advance to keep the vehicle on the road when it needs to be.

This does, however, mean that parts and maintenance will likely be limited to the Iveco dealer network, rather than through an independent workshop, but the warranty should assuage any worries.

Iveco’s own telematics system is built in too. Fleet managers can see data through the MyDaily portal, accessed from a desktop computer, tablet or mobile device. Driving style, fuel consumption and performance are all available and driving reports will be provided alongside suggestions for improvement.

Also available will be a fleet management system, which provides advanced engine diagnostics, mileage reporting and more. Vehicles will be connected on purchase; owners need only complete a set-up to begin.

On the road

The engine is quiet and refined. Steering is effortless thanks to new electric power steering and “city mode”, accessed via a bank of buttons above the infotainment system, makes it even easier; Iveco advertises that it reduces effort required by 70%. That system will be familiar to Fiat drivers. The turning circle is deeply impressive, and a full turn is perfectly feasible within the vehicle’s own footprint.

The electronic parking brake automatically engages and disengages when the Daily is in use and is indicated by a LED. This saves space in the cab. Road holding is good on the country lanes, and there are all the amenities that are expected from a modern vehicle – automatic wipers and beam control, parking sensors and climate control. Mirrors are heated and give good visibility.

Optional is Fiat’s Traction Plus and hill descent control, also accessed by a dedicated switch on the central bank of buttons on the dash. It kicks in on steep hills and slippery conditions up to 30km/h – preventing wheel slip through torque transfer and also offering a 5mph descent with no brake input. Crosswind Assist applies the brakes on the side of the vehicle if lateral deviation occurs, and keeps the vehicle in a straight line when passing lorries or encountering strong winds.

The gearbox feels refined on the road, and there is minimal intrusion from wind and road noise. Pick up is good when needed, and the whimsy of adaptive cruise control comes into its own on the motorway. It operates much the same way as any other cruise control – the only difference being the New Daily will maintain distance from any car in front. Throttle response from the system feels well managed, especially if vehicles merge to fill the gap, and should make long distance treks pleasant indeed.

Meanwhile, the lane departure assist will keep the New Daily between the lines in the event of driver distraction. Any drift is corrected with a gentle nudge. The system also offers a warning if the driver’s hands are off the wheel, hopefully arresting any accusations that these safety measures will encourage complacency.

The New Daily is a clear hint at the direction of the LCV market and demonstrates the obvious move to technological refinement necessitated by growing demands for cleaner emissions and safety.

It should be hoped that Iveco markets the New Daily strongly for the minibus segment moving forward; despite its reputation as a tough-as-nails courier vehicle, its focus on safety, sustainability and connectivity makes it an equally attractive option for the passenger market.

Engine:                                   2.3-litre, four-cylinder F1A

Power:                                    114kW (156hp) @ 3600rpm

Emissions:                             Euro VI using SCR

Gearbox:                                8-speed Hi-Matic

Tyres:                                     235/65 R16 ECO

Length:                                   6.09m

Height:                                   2.66m

Width:                                     2.01m

Wheelbase:                            3.52m

GVW:                                      3,500kg

Fuel economy:                      27mpg (expected)