Fiat is set to enter the passenger van segment with its new Scudo van, which becomes available in South Africa from June.
The current International Van of the Year goes head-to-head with established vehicles in this segment - Mercedes-Benz's Vito, Volkswagen Kombi and Nissan Primastar amongst them - where it plans to compete for the shuttle, work fleet and general passenger transportation market.
Design is typically MPV-like. Elongated headlight clusters include indicators and the tapered front end avoids the flat-nosed appearance common to MPVs. The large slab-like slanks are offset by big glass areas, while double sliding side doors increase practicality.
The interior, while definitely Fiat, has a practically utilitarian quality to that appears modern and practically. And Scudo is packed to the hilt with features.
Oddment compartments include a ceiling-high overhead bin for the front passengers, a lockable and refrigerated cubby and facia mounted cupholders.
Comfort features include electric front windows, remote central locking, air conditioning with separate controls for the front and rear, power steering and heated power side mirrors.
The modular eight- or nine-seater's interior can be transformed in up to 17 ways and passengers in the rear also benefit from Fiat's "amphitheatre seating" with graduated seating allowing even the rearmost passengers to enjoy views of the road ahead. All seats come with head restraints and retractable seatbelts.
Scudo, when it arrives in South Africa in June, will be powered by a common-rail turbodiesel 2.0-litre Multijet engine producing 85 kW at 3 600 r/min and 300 Nm at 2 000 r/min with drive to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.
ABS, EBD and brake assist with a reserve braking function under anchors are some of the safety kit included.
New Scudo, when it arrives, will sell for R341 000.
Options include 16-inch alloys, park distance sensors, metallic paint and an Integral Pack comprising body-coloured bumpers and side mouldings, electrically folding side mirrors and front fog lights.