LIGHT COMMERCIAL TEST - DAILY DRIVER

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Iveco’s latest Daily maximises load space options while remaining urban-road friendly.

Iveco’s Daily van hasn’t been reviewed by New Zealand Trucking before. But it’s been a worldwide load-hauling fixture since 1978 and has introduced the likes of exhaust gas recirculation and direct- injection diesel to light vans.

This Daily is a revamped version with a redesigned face and new features and options mainly aimed at safety – Crosswind Assist is standard, for example, while the infotainment system now gets satellite navigation and a much-needed reversing camera. Much needed, because our test example was the three-litre with 16-cubic-metre load capacity and, believe us, any panel van more than seven metres long needs a reversing camera and good side mirrors – both of which are standard here.


The rear window is not designed for vision out: doors stop at 90 degrees or a wide 270 degrees.

Despite its size, the Daily is yet another example of just how far the humble delivery van has come in recent years. This tester has driven camper vans this size, but not in round-town delivery environments, and was impressed at how quickly even a large-van novice could get confident in the Daily.

I was doubly impressed, after conducting some bumpy rural ‘delivery’ drives, at how efficient the optional independently suspended seat is at ironing out bumps, too. It’s quick to adjust – and if your drivers vary widely in weight and swap round regularly, they’ll be equally comfy in a second or two.

If they vary widely in skill set, you can be assured that the standard safety spec will help keep them safe while working. As well as ABS and traction control, the Daily includes Hill Holder (assisting uphill departure in manual variants), load adaptive control, trailer sway mitigation, roll movement intervention, rollover mitigation and crosswind assist. The latter is especially appreciated wherever strong side winds are expected: think Auckland Harbour Bridge or the Wellington seafront.

Clamber into the cabin and you’ll find an enclosed space – a bulkhead (here with an optional window) certainly makes the cabin quieter, safer, and easier to heat or cool. Everything is clearly laid out, with a full suite of modern comfort and convenience aids, and dual front and curtain airbags.

   
The interior is roomy with good ergonomics. (left)
The floor mat and plywood sides are local fitment; plenty of tie-down points. (right)

Having the seats option meant no bench seat and fold-down table, but for longer hours on the road, I’d take the suspended seat any day. Plenty of storage includes two dash-top lift-top cubbies, large dual storage pockets in the doors and a shelf above your head for clipboards. You’ll also find satnav and – a blessing when working on the road – good voice control for the phone and an excellent speaker for clear communication.

There is no central rear- view mirror – it’d be pointless, as the length of the load area makes useful vision back there impossible.

The side mirrors and reversing camera make a great team, but without an extra battery of (expensive) cameras, there’s no getting away from the sizeable blind spot created by the panel van sides.

(We’re guessing blind-spot warning isn’t far away for vans to make lane changes safer.)

There is very easy access to the load area out back via the two rear doors and an extremely wide side door. The steel ribbed floor was covered by an optional mat to improve grip, with the walls panelled in gently curved ply – recommended to avoid putting dents in such large sheets of metal. Those rear doors hinge out with stops at 90 and 270 degrees, and there are interior lights at the side and rear.

Our original plan for a load fell through when our test slot was rebooked, so we can’t confirm laden performance. We can say that the Daily is impressively wieldy to manage, tackling hilly ‘swervery’ atop Auckland’s Waitakere Hills with the confidence of a much smaller vehicle.

          
From left: The mirrors do an excellent job – vital given Daily’s length; Plenty of cabin storage includes dash-top cubbies and tray, plus ceiling tray full width of roof; The dash design has Italian flair.

The auto’s gear-step choices were faultless, whether accelerating from lights or bends or descending Piha’s precipitous hill en- route to its store. In fact, the whole plot is so easy to use, we raised onlookers’ eyebrows with some tight perpendicular parking between closely parked cars (although naturally, it stuck out some way).

Also impressive is the Daily’s handling over a causeway battered by strong gusts of driving rain horizontal. No doubt that came at least partly thanks to the Crosswind Assist, despite the tendency of an unladen van to act as a sail.

As standard, this Daily’s RRP is $74,815 plus GST. However, the option packs fitted took the total RRP to $82,165, and that’s without the plywood lining and floor skin. The base price lets each buyer decide the packs that are most beneficial, rather than throwing everything at the standard van.

The Hi-Efficiency Pack offers tyre pressure monitoring and a Run-Lock function. The Comfort Pack includes auto air-con, leather for the steering wheel, the tyre-pressure monitoring, open storage with inductive plus USB charge and – a distinct plus for this driver – those suspended, heated driver and passenger seats.

To adjust the suspension, simply turn the dial to your weight. A separately suspended seat takes a couple of kilometres to get used to. But it doesn’t take much in the way of road bumps to appreciate it, especially if you swap drivers often, as it’ll cater to the heaviest and lightest of your staff equally well.

As for seat heating, if your driver has to hop in and out of the cab in winter, the air in there will never warm up, but a warm seat makes for a warm driver regardless.

The Hi-Safety Pack includes Queue Assist (auto only), the active emergency braking system – which will automatically slam on the brakes if the vehicle detects an imminent impact – an electric park brake, and active cruise control. Finally, the Hi-Vision Pack includes LED headlights and auto high beam. Were it my money, I’d likely opt for the Hi-Comfort Pack for those heated, suspended seats, tyre pressure monitoring and auto air-con, with the other extras a bonus.

If my Daily were primarily a city runner, the Hi-Safety would have to be included for its auto emergency braking. As for the Hi-Vision Pack, if your Daily does regular open- road runs and often strays into darker hours, auto high beam is a plus.

Altogether, it’s an impressive bit of kit, easy enough to drive so even staff more familiar with traditional passenger cars will get comfy fast, despite that 16-cubic- metre load space.

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