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Little big van

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Enormous rear overhang

High fuel bill potential

In a world where a typical 7.5 tonne truck can carry 2,750kg and the largest vans over 4,000kg, the smaller vehicles punch well above their weight in payload. But how do they compare otherwise?

The way the industry is heading, the chances are that anyone currently driving a 7.5-tonner might not be doing so for much longer. Although it may not be happening as fast as some industry watchers expected, the place for the 7.5-tonne truck is only heading in one direction.

Logic dictates that the market will eventually diverge into large panel vans, such as the latest 7.0-tonne Iveco Daily examined here, for most of the needs currently served by the 7.5-tonner, or a 12-tonner if you really do need the extra volume. True, there will always be a place for a truck which is ideally sized for some operators’ needs, just one example being delivering and installing domestic appliances where the load provides a day’s work for the crew. For many others, though, it’s just an arbitrary category based on increasingly irrelevant legislation.

A traditional box-bodied 7.5-tonner typically has a payload around 2,700kg, with full tanks and no crew. On the same basis, a Daily 70C can carry up to 4,250kg, depending on body size. Which brings us to volume. This is the largest version, with a whopping 19.6m3 of cavernousness, within an overall length of 7,630mm. The average 7.5-tonne box van is likely to be up to a metre longer with a load volume in the region of 35m3. Go up to a 12-tonner with the same dimensions, though, and most of the extra 4,500kg of GVW is payload.
Having established the case for big vans, there’s a rather large fly in the ointment: the current lack of choice. Having decided that its sales volumes didn’t justify the upgrade to Euro-6, Mercedes-Benz dropped the Vario, leaving the 5,000kg, 17m3 Sprinter as its largest van. The Sevel family offers the same volume at just 4,250kg, as do the biggest Vauxhall Movano and Renault Master models at 4,500kg.

So that just leaves Iveco. As well as its familiar range of 3.5-tonners, it now has a choice of 7.0-tonners, comprising four body sizes on the 4,100mm wheelbase. Permutations of medium and high roof and short or long rear overhang provide load volumes from 16.0m3 up to a massive 19.6m3. If you don’t need all that capacity, a similar set of choices on the 3,520mm wheelbase gives three variants from 10.8m3 to 13.4m3 at 5200kg GVW. If you prefer to build your own body, there are also 7-tonne chassis cowl and single and double chassis cab versions available.

 

Providing the power

Thanks to some typically illogical EU rules, the choice of 3.0-litre engines is a bit confusing. The bottom line is that if you have a factory-built 70C van it’s officially a heavy duty vehicle, so it will have the choice of Euro-6 SCR engines at 146hp and 170hp. However, the chassis-cab models are classed as light duty and have the same outputs, plus a 205hp version, complying with Euro-5b+.

The big versions of the Daily have been the last to become available for appraisals, so we took the first opportunity that arose. The model we drove was a Daily 70C17 HV, thus a 170hp Euro-6 engine with six-speed manual transmission and the biggest body.

As someone who once drove an M-reg Daily 65 on a regular basis, it’s been intriguing to watch how the build quality of successive generations has improved. The plastics, in particular, once gave the impression of being made from recycled pasta, but today’s Daily has easily caught up with contemporary standards, standards which have themselves been raised with every new generation of van.

This example was fitted with the Daily Plus option pack. An irresistible offering at just £330, it consists of cruise control, fog/cornering lamps, heated electric mirrors, a trimmed rear cab wall and a dual passenger seat, which includes capacious storage underneath and a drop-down centre arm rest desk with removable steering wheel clipboard.

The dark grey seat trim is a tasteful contrast to some of the garish materials used in the past and the overall appearance of the dash is functional and gimmick-free in an almost premium German way. One novelty we’ll have to get used to is the AdBlue gauge on the central info display.

The body beautiful

Driving away from a tightly packed row of Dailys, we reminded ourselves that the biggest body is obtained by adding an extra 370mm of rear overhang compared with the normal long-wheelbase van, creating enough swing-out to potentially damage itself and anything else in the vicinity. That’s the only real concession needed to drive, however - otherwise it’s much the same experience as a big car, which of course is one of its big attractions.

The loadspace - which is, frankly, larger than the accommodation some of our colleagues currently rent in south London - is easily accessed through appropriately large rear and side doors and, in this case, was about half-full.

Summary

Our only reservation about the driving experience is that if you regularly plan to operate at the full GVW, you may well find the 205hp engine would provide a useful reserve of power and may well prove to be just as economical, always assuming you have the option.

Like it or not, this end of the driver pool is likely to become less skilled as time goes by. Vehicles like this Daily, providing truck-like capacity with a car-like driving experience, can only become more widespread.

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