2012 Fiat Ducato

Fiat is getting up the nose of Volkswagen Transporter and Ford Tranist.

The fifth generation of Fiat Ducato goes on sale in October 2011 with thirty years of experience behind it. With an extended range of completely new engines, the latest Ducato is cheaper to run than the model it replaces. A new interior gives it a much more car-like cockpit while retaining the Ducato’s trademark functionality. And with more versions than ever before, Fiat is offering the commercial vehicle buyer huge variety.

The Ducato comes with two engines and four output: 110, 130, 148 and 177bhp engines.

ducato1 2012 Fiat Ducato

More details in Fiat’s press release:

Whichever engine they choose it’ll benefit from Fiat’s latest MultiJet technology and comply with strict Euro 5 emissions legislation. It’s also more powerful than the engine it replaces and more economical, produces fewer CO2 emissions and has longer service intervals.

The new Ducato’s upgraded interior employs the sort of high quality materials that up until now have been alien to the commercial vehicle sector. New seats mean it’s comfier while a complete re-design of the dash makes it more stylish to look at.

With this new sense of panache comes improved practicality. The re-designed dashboard now has a slot to accommodate the Blue&Me TomTom LIVE satellite navigation unit. The integrated radio/CD and MP3 player not only looks smart but can accommodate the latest generation of Blue&Me. Vehicles specified with Blue&Me can also have eco:Drive Professional, a version of Fiat’s award-winning eco:Drive Fleet. This lets drivers and fleet managers monitor how vehicles are being driven and alter habits accordingly to improve economy and lower costs.

There will be eight different capacities of van ranging from eight to 17 m3. But the Ducato isn’t just a van. The various lengths and Gross Vehicle Weights of the chassis combined with the new engines give converters an enormous choice of base vehicle for anything from a minibus to a motorhome or even a flatbed truck.

When sales are combined with its stablemates from PSA, the Fiat Ducato was the best-selling commercial vehicle in its segment in Europe last year.

The latest Ducato benefits from a significant improvement in engine performance. The new power units make it cleaner, cheaper to run and more economical than the model it replaces. And the engines, which are all Euro 5 emissions compliant, offer a choice of four power outputs enabling buyers to choose the unit best suited to their budget and business.

Available with a capacity of either 2.3 or 3-litre, these engines use the latest generation of Fiat Powertrain Technology’s MultiJet to achieve better economy and carbon dioxide emissions than their already impressive predecessors. But saving money at the pumps isn’t their only benefit. They have longer service intervals so the vehicle spends more time on the road earning its keep and less time in the garage. They’re also relatively light in weight enabling commercial vehicles to carry heavier loads without having an impact on overall tonnage.

All engines have four cylinders in line, with four valves per cylinder and double overhead camshafts. The 2.3-litre engines have the latest MultiJet II technology that employs faster injectors with a new servo valve and balanced shutter allowing them to operate at 1800 bar of pressure compared to the 1600 bar of the previous generation. These new injectors allow faster, more flexible and therefore precise injection strategies including Injection Rate Shaping where two consecutive injections come so close together that there is a continuous, modulated flow of fuel into the cylinders. This improves the combustion process, making it quieter with reduced particulate and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions.

The previous Ducato’s entry level 2.2-litre 100bhp engine is replaced by an 110bhp 2.3-litre. The new unit features an aluminium alloy cylinder head on a cast iron block and uses a fixed geometry turbocharger with an intercooler.

Compared to the engine it replaces, the 110bhp unit is 10 per cent more powerful, and with 300Nm, has 20 per cent more torque, yet is 10 per cent more economical and has 11 per cent less emissions. Perhaps more crucially for business users, the improved economy means the range between fuel stops has been increased while service intervals have also been lengthened from 25,000 to 30,000 miles. So the latest Ducato will spend more time on the road earning its keep, and less time stationary at the pumps or in the garage.

The 130bhp version of the 2.3-litre generates a healthy 320Nm of torque at just 1800rpm making it flexible in traffic and responsive even when the vehicle is heavily laden. Compared with its predecessor it has eight per cent more power, ensuring it’s relaxing for longer journeys, yet emissions and consumption are down by nine per cent.

The engine is characterised by details designed to make it as efficient as possible. The turbocharger’s wastegate valve enables the gradual outflow of some exhaust gases at more than 2200rpm, optimising torque delivery throughout the rev range and making the vehicle easier to drive. The glow plugs are located inside the combustion chamber to reduce cranking and pre-heating time, and to limit the stress put on the engine when starting from cold in low external temperatures.

The Exhaust Gas Recirculation valve helps reduce emissions sufficiently for the Ducato to meet strict Euro 5 legislation. The gases are cooled using a heat exchanger before being re-injected into the combustion chamber and the system is now electronically rather than pneumatically controlled for more accurate measurement.

The 150 MultiJet II version achieves its power boost courtesy of a variable geometry turbocharger. This makes the 2.3-litre engine a viable alternative to the previous generation 3-litre. Power is 148bhp and it’s only six per cent lower than the much bigger engine, yet maximum torque is a healthy 350Nm at 1500rpm while consumption is reduced by 19 per cent, CO2 emissions by 20 per cent and weight by 40kg.

The most powerful engine in the Ducato range is the 3-litre 180 MultiJet Power unit. This appropriately named MultiJet Power engine achieves its maximum output of 177bhp at 3500rpm and is 13 per cent more powerful than the engine it replaces, making it the best-performing four-cylinder diesel engine in its class. It has the same 400Nm of torque as its predecessor but it’s available from 1400rpm instead of 1700.

This high performance doesn’t come at the expense of either economy or comfort. The early availability of maximum torque makes it a relaxed travelling companion no matter what weight it’s carrying. And consumption is nine per cent better than the engine it replaces.

As with the Ducato’s other engines, service intervals have been increased to 30,000 miles and the timing chain has been designed to last the life of the vehicle. Like the 2.3-litre, the glow plugs are located inside the combustion chamber and the engine has a cast iron block with integrated bearings and a dual-mass fly wheel that softens engine vibrations and greatly reduces noise.

Each engine is available with a six-speed manual gearbox while the 3-litre can be specified with the six-speed Comfort-Matic Manual Transmission Automated. This is a traditional manual transmission except there is no clutch pedal and the manual linkage to the gearbox is replaced by actuators controlled by a Transmission Control Unit. The shift is either performed automatically or the driver can use the gear lever to prompt changes by pulling backwards or pushing forwards.

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