A game changer for Fiat?





In recent years Fiat (under the Fiat Professional brand) have made huge efforts to shake off some longstanding negative brand perception for their van offerings in the UK. An improved model range, some aggressive sales activity resulting in increased visibility within high profile fleets and a rationalised dealer network have gone some way to improve sentiment in both the new and used markets.

Where the manufacturer has suffered is a lack of a serious offering in the 1 tonne panel van sector, dominated by the Ford Transit Custom, Volkswagen Transporter, and the Renault Trafic / Vauxhall Vivaro. Although the Ducato does offer a variant with a 1.1 tonne payload most of the range is geared to customers requiring a larger vehicle with a correspondingly higher carrying capacity. Previously, the only other offering was the Scudo, essentially a rebadged (previous model) Peugeot Expert / Citroen Despatch which was never a serious contender in this sector. Its success in the UK was very limited, with sales falling well short of even the modest levels achieved by its French peers. Development of a brand new range undoubtedly proved to be financially prohibitive so Fiat came to an agreement to market their own, fundamentally rebadged version of the hugely successful Vauxhall Vivaro and Renault Trafic, the Talento. Externally, the only significant difference is the front perspective which mirrors the rest of the Fiat Professional van range. It does lend itself very well to the lines of the van and, although subjective it could be argued that it’s a better looking vehicle from the front than its peers.




Specification and features

The Talento range consists of two payload offerings (1.0 or 1.2 tonne), 1.6 litre Diesel engines in four power outputs (95 or 120HP Multijet and 125 or 145HP twin turbo Ecojet units) two wheelbases, two roof heights and two core trim levels (base and SX). The test van was a L1H1 (short wheelbase, low roof) fitted with the 125HP Ecojet engine. Although supplied in base trim this example did include a number of optional extras including alloy wheels, cruise control, reverse sensors and air conditioning.

Standard equipment on the base van include electric windows, LED daytime running lights, DAB radio with bluetooth and a full height steel bulkhead. Also included are safety features such as ABS with EBD and Emergency Brake Assist, together with ESC, Hill Hold and Traction+. The SX models gain body coloured bumpers to the exterior, 16” steel wheels with trims, a mobile office consisting of a fold down passenger seat , air conditioning and reverse parking sensors.




The cab environment

First impressions of the cab are of a no nonsense , tidy and functional working environment. The seats are firm but comfortable and materials used within the cab, whilst in no way luxurious have a quality look and feel to them and will undoubtedly prove to be durable under everyday use.  The attractive dashboard consists primarily of a clear instrument panel in front of the driver and a central binnacle housing the fairly basic media unit and the heating and ventilation controls. The dashboard has two USB input sockets, one adjacent to the media unit and a further one on the dash top which itself has a useful storage tray in front of the driving position and a lidded box on the passenger side. Otherwise, cab storage is very modest with small door bins and some cup holders although the glovebox is very generous in size. The passenger sun visor includes what originally Vauxhall launched as a blind spot mirror. Personally, I’ve never been able to see any benefit whatsoever in the feature which really doesn’t work in practice. In addition, passengers who lower the visor can be startled to see a distorted reflection of themselves in what may seem to them to be a very poorly manufactured vanity mirror…





There’s not a huge amount you can say about the Talento’s loadspace. When the facelifted Vivaro / Trafic was designed this area was left relatively untouched from the outgoing model as it just works. Access from the side and rear is adequate, loading height is good and wheelarch intrusion, whilst not class leading isn’t too invasive. The low roof (H1) van isn’t easy to work within however and for applications where the driver spends time within the rear the H2 may well be a worthy consideration. Lighting is limited to two standard units (not LED) but these appear to be satisfactory for this size of van. The steel bulkhead comes with a very useful fold up flap at floor level allowing long lengths to pass under the passenger seat.




On the road

Having spent some time in the past few months in all the Talento’s main competitors, the Ford Transit Custom has remained way ahead of the pack in driveability and road manners. The Talento is the one van that comes anywhere near, feeling significantly better on the road than the Volkswagen Transporter and Mercedes-Benz Vito. Visibility is excellent and the twin turbo 125HP engine is an absolute delight, oozing torque at the lowest of revs, vastly reducing the amount of downchanges required through the smooth and precise gearbox. As with most Euro6 engines the unit is quiet with no vibration or harshness and, although no accurate measurements were taken, the trip computer showed fuel consumption on the majority of trips to be a very creditable 42 to 46mpg. Handling and steering were sharp and, although there was no opportunity to drive the vehicle laden the ride was smooth with little of the bounce one would expect.  All in all a very enjoyable, comfortable, effortless drive.



Fiat Professional still have some work to do to restore confidence in the brand in the UK, particularly in the retail sector. A key to unlocking this is to gain further exposure via the fleet market and, as previously alluded to Fiat have not had a viable contender in the ‘bread and butter’ 1 tonne van segment. Availability of this excellent van will now allow Fiat Professionals key account managers to approach fleets with a ‘one stop’ solus fleet solution backed by a robust, commercially orientated dealer network. Success in this regard will undoubtedly result in increased brand awareness, and the Talento deservedly appearing on the small business owners shopping list.




Price:  £20845 + VAT, OTR costs and non standard options.

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