The real workhorse

The real workhorse

It’s been over five years since our resident ‘wheel man’ – Gary Squires – last put the Fiat Scudo through its paces. Half a decade on, how will the van stand up in its latest audition?

The real workhorse
The last time a Fiat Scudo was featured in the pages of Installer it was the reigning International Van of the Year. Five years on and Fiat’s successful collaboration with Peugeot and Citroen has forced other manufacturers to up their games in this van class. Before the Scudo arrives, I’m wondering whether or not the years have been kind to it – and how it will compare with the rivals I’ve recently tested.
First thoughts
As regular readers of this column will know, I am not overly-keen on this style of van. The shell is the same as the Peugeot Expert/Citroen Dispatch – and I find little about the shape that makes them stand out or turn heads. Unspectacular looks aside, the Fiat Scudo does offer plenty in terms of a reliable workhorse – and for many of us on the tools, that’s enough. After all, it isn’t the fancy trimmings that get you and your tools from the merchant to the job on time.
On the road
In plain terms, handling is not a reason to buy this van. Just by looking at it, you can tell that it won’t be the greatest van around corners. However, on most general driving duties, it performed to an acceptable level, and the steering was acceptable if a little vague at speed.
This van had a 1.6 / 90bhp engine, but – unfortunately – it felt less. Again, I’m fairly certain that speed won’t be a defining factor in choosing whether or not to buy this van. It could sit at the national speed limit on the motorway, but there didn’t feel there was much left (although the stated top speed of this van is 90mph).
The brakes, however, were good. They were nice and crisp, and brought the van to a comfortable controlled stop whenever asked. The steering on this van was light, which made parking quite easy rom a manoeuvring point of view. The one obstacle that I did find to parking, though, was the front of the van, which was difficult to judge because of the van’s design. The rear parking sensors where a blessing and a must for anyone buying one of these.

The real workhorse

In terms of fuel economy, the on-board gauge was showing a combined fuel consumption of over 39mpg so not the most economical of vans, but, crucially, also far from being the worst that I have tested in recent years. Equally, it was very close to the official figure of 40.9mpg, which is reassuring.
Inside story
Moving into the cab, and the seats were quite comfortable with a range of different adjustments. On a long journey, it was good although lumber support would have been a nice bonus.
While the cab noise was at an acceptable level due to the bulk head that has been fitted, it was not as quiet as some competitor vans. The bulkhead features a small knock-out section that is particularly useful when carrying longer items without compromising the cab security, safety and noise protection.
The three seats in the cab were useful – and will be a real selling point for some installers – but, as you’d expect, the middle seat doesn’t offer much leg room and is a bit cramped.
The controls in the cab were easy to use and quite well laid out. It came with electric windows as standard and air conditioning, which is almost a given these days with commercial vehicles. There were controls for the radio on the steering wheel, which after a bit of getting used to, were fairly easy to use.
Storage space in the cab was good with an effective combination of door pockets, a lockable glove box, various other storage areas and an overhead shelf. There were also bottle holders in the door pockets, but unfortunately nothing for cups or open cans.
Most installers buying a van of this size will probably fit a roof pipe storage system to avoid having to either cut down the copper pipe or having it sit through into the front cab over the passenger seats. I think that this is an acceptable payoff when settling for a van of this size.
Generally, the rear load space works well. Other than lengths of pipe, most materials will fit comfortable inside. The load space is easy to access via the range of doors available and it has a low load height too, which makes it noticeably easier for loading heavier items.
Overall impressions
Personally, I feel that this is not the van for me. There’s just something about the design that I can’t get on with it. But my negative feelings should not detract from the overall benefits that this van offers.
However, the reality is that the Fiat Scudo has more than enough plus points to make it a very attractive option for a lot of installers. The cab can take three passengers, there is easy access into the load area (which has ample space for tools and materials) and the van is low enough to get into an underground car park.
It’s also worth pointing out that the service intervals of 18,000 miles are very good, and Fiat offers an impressive 120,000 mile warranty. This manufacturer confidence highlights the strength of the Scudo – it’s a reliable workhorse that will deliver job after job.