Fiat Doblo

4 Aug, 2004 1:12pm Craig Cheetham

At £10,595, Fiat's Doblo Family is by far and away the cheapest seven-seater MPV for sale on the new car market. Priced to compete with mainstream superminis, it has a versatile interior, huge cabin space and chunky bodywork.

Verdict

This is one of the best-value cars on sale, and if you've got a large family, the prospect of a brand new Fiat with a three-year warranty may be enough to tempt you away from the used market. The Doblo Family is definitely a vehicle you buy for practical rather than emotive reasons - but it's well equipped, spacious and refreshingly honest in its pricing.
At £10,595, Fiat's Doblo Family is by far and away the cheapest seven-seater MPV for sale on the new car market. Priced to compete with mainstream superminis, it has a versatile interior, huge cabin space and chunky bodywork.

Powered by Fiat's 1.3-litre Multijet diesel, which offers admirable economy and refinement, it boasts a top speed of 88mph. However, the innovative oil-burner is more suited to smaller models and struggles to pull the van-based MPV's substantial weight around.

As you might expect, the Family is not exactly a dynamic tour de force. In fact, it's distinctly average from a driver's perspective, with adequate performance and handling that betrays its commercial vehicle origins.

But driver thrills are not what this machine is about - it might be strained and breathless at speed, but around town it's actually quite good fun, with great visibility and compact dimensions making the car simple to position.

From behind the wheel, all the controls are within easy reach, although some of the switchgear is confusing. Meanwhile, the driving position favours those with short legs and long arms. Access to the rear is via two sliding doors - and it's here that things get far more interesting.

As with most seven-seater MPVs, there's a three-abreast row with two extra chairs behind. Legroom is adequate, but the rearmost seats are a touch too narrow for comfort. When not in use, they can fold flat or be removed completely to free up luggage capacity - which is a good thing, because with the chairs in place, load space is at a premium.

Nevertheless, there's enough room for the weekly shopping, while access is easy through the rear doors. Up front, extra storage is provided by an overhead shelf mounted against the headlining, and there are plenty of cubby-holes for odds and ends.

As an inexpensive transport solution for families on a budget, the new Fiat simply offers too much to be ignored. It might not be leading the way in performance terms, but its first-class value for money makes the Doblo Family a very special delivery indeed.

Key specs

* New Doblo Family on sale now
* ABS and EBD are standard-fit