Dubbed the Fiat Ducato Minibus, it demonstrates the ability of this model to meet the needs of customers who want much more than just a general-purpose commercial vehicle.
The newcomer is available in two body/engine configurations: the 2.3 JTD and the 2.8 JTD, the latter features an extended wheelbase and a raised roof.
The 2.3 version has a passenger-carrying capacity of 14, while the 2.8 derivative pushes the capacity to 16, while also providing considerable extra luggage capacity thanks to its raised roof configuration.
From a legal perspective, a normal Code B licence will suffice for the 2.3 version, the 2.8, however, will require the driver to be in possession of a Code C1 (old Code 10 licence).
The engine in this model has a maximum power output of 81 kW at 3600 rpm and maximum torque is 270 Nm at 1800 rpm.
Pick-up and handling of this power unit is outstanding. What's more, power and maximum torque are achieved at low rpm: 3600 rpm for the former and 1800 rpm for the latter.
The power curve is also gradual and the torque curve is surprisingly flat and close to peak levels at just 1500 rpm. All these features ensure very smooth driving behaviour and driving flexibility in all situations, even around town.
The secret that allows this engine to achieve normally incompatible results (high performance and low fuel consumption) lies in its electronically-managed high pressure Common Rail injection system that ensures optimum power unit operation at all rpms through control of the various parameters.
And there is more. The 2.3 JTD is also sturdy, reliable and requires very little maintenance. Service intervals are now much longer. Suffice it to say that the timing belt needs changing every 120,000 km while an oil and filter change is required every 20 000 km.
Environmental compatibility is another major attribute for a power unit, and the new Fiat Ducato is well within legal emission limits.
The main features of this engine are as follows:
- engine block and central case in cast iron;
- double-section aluminium cylinder head with integral water/oil circulation;
- light alloy pistons with built-in cooling tunnel;
- steel connecting rods;
- twin overhead camshafts;
- 4 cylinders in line with 4 valves per cylinder;
- turbocharger with wastegate valve that allows partial, progressive return of a proportion of exhaust gases at engine speeds higher than 2200 rpm. This improves the available torque delivery at all engine speeds to improve vehicle handling;
- electromagnetically-activated electronic injectors managed by the control unit: the injectors receive input from the control unit on the basis of parameters monitored by dedicated sensors;
- toothed belt-driven timing system (2 OHC);
- glow plugs: the glow plugs are located directly inside the combustion chamber and controlled by the ECU. They considerably reduce preheating and cranking time to help limit stress on the engine during cold starts with low outdoor temperatures;
The Common Rail injection system used in the 2.3 JTD engine fuel system is remarkable because of the high pressure (1600 bars as opposed to 1350 bars for a classic system) at which the fuel is injected into the cylinders.
Fuel metering, controlled by the ECU, is therefore even more accurate, with considerable advantages in terms of fuel consumption, fuel emissions and engine noise levels.
Considerable fuel feed pressure is achieved through the adoption of a new fuel pump with a very high maximum rotation speed (4 500 rpm).
Maximum power output for this model is 93.5 kW at 3 600 rpm, with a maximum torque of 300 Nm available at 1 800 rpm.
The 2.8 JTD Common Rail direction injection engine with intercooler owes its place at the top of the Ducato range to its generous maximum torque and power performance.
The 2.8 JTD displays attributes of reliability and strength that make it particularly well-suited to heavy-duty applications. Its gradual power curve ensures very smooth driving behaviour even in difficult situations due to the unit's flexibility at all speeds. The torque curve is also near-maximum from low rpms.
Servicing & Warranties
The new Fiat Ducato is fitted as standard with an important new tool that allows vehicle servicing to be managed in accordance with specific customer needs.
The driver can now select the variables D (distance travelled) and T (time elapsed) from a range of pre-defined settings to define a customised service plan that takes into account the main vehicle application type.
The minimum requirements set out in the Owner Handbook must, of course, still be respected.
When the key is in, the service indicator shows the number of kilometres to the next service for 5 seconds on the odometer display on the instrument panel. As the next service approaches (i.e. at 2000 km or less than 30 days to the next service), the reading remains constantly in view. The signal then begins to flash at the service deadline to indicate how many kilometers have been covered since the service due date.
Fiat Auto South Africa also offers Fiat Ducato Minibus owners the following warranties:
- A 24-month Manufacturer warranty - unlimited mileage;
- An additional 12-month Dealer Extended Warranty or up to 100 000 km in total;
- Angelo Katers Motor Trimmers' 12 month warranty on workmanship for the conversion
The new models are also covered by the AA Fleetcare roadside assistance for 12 months. The service is active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To access this service simply call the dedicated toll-free number: 0800 223 727.
Recommended Retail Pricing
Fiat Ducato 2.8 JTD Maxi panel van: R215 000 (incl VAT)
Basic* 16-seater Conversion for Fiat Ducato 2.8 JTD: R35 000 (incl VAT)
Fiat Ducato 2.3 JTD 15 panel van: R195 000 (incl VAT)
Basic* 14-seater conversion for Fiat Ducato 2.3 JTD: R34 000 (incl VAT)
*Refers to base conversion only; there are an infinite number of customisation options available from the converter.