Launched in the UK in 2010 and revised five years later, the Doblo is a van-like MPV with a lot of luggage space, sliding rear side doors and a choice of five- or seven-seat formats. It's a more expensive but also more practical alternative to Fiat's own Qubo, and has more space than the similary sized Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner.
The range includes a 94bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine, but the Doblo seems more suited to a diesel engine, of which there are two 1.6-litre MultiJet versions producing 89bhp and 104bhp. A more powerful 2.0-litre diesel offered in the early days is no longer available.
Petrol models and the 104bhp diesel have manual transmissions with five and six forward gears respectively. The 89bhp diesel gets a five-speed semi-automatic called Dualogic and no clutch pedal.
The 104bhp diesel is very well-suited to the Doblo. It provides a 0-62mph time of 13.4 seconds and a top speed of 102mph, which are about as much as the car really needs. The old 2.0-litre, with an extra 29bhp, was certainly quicker, but not helpfully so.
The petrol engine and the less powerful of the two diesels are significantly slower, neither being able to push the Doblo to 62mph in under 15 seconds. They're okay for town and light country use but could feel breathless on a longer journey.
Ride and Handling
Driving in town is easy enough, thanks partly to the commanding driving position and partly to the visibility, which is good in most directions
The Doblo is unexpectedly entertaining to drive on twisty roads. It uses the same platform as the Fiat Punto, and despite having a centre of gravity much further away from the road surface it still feels quite car-like. Its handling limit is quite high, which is good for safety or fun, depending on how you look at these things. Driving in town is easy enough, thanks partly to the commanding driving position and partly to the visibility, which is good in most directions. The windows are all large, but so are the pillars surrounding them, so you have to be careful of blind spots.
Interior and Equipment
The Doblo is built in Turkey by Tofas, a company which has been manufacturing Fiats since 1971.
The outstanding feature of the Doblo is its luggage capacity of 790 litres (to the parcel shelf) with five seats in place and a whopping 3,200 (to roof level) with all but two folded. Less impressively, the third-row seats in versions that can carry seven people are not large, and are mounted alarmingly close to the rear of the car, potentially making their occupants vulnerable to rear-end shunts. Legroom in the centre isn't impressive, though tall people can easily be accommodated up front. Headroom for everyone on board is extraordinary. Fiat changed the names of the Doblo's trim levels in early 2015 to bring them in line with its other models. The range starts with the Pop, which is not extravagantly equipped but has all the safety equipment found in other Doblos. The Easy has front foglights, electric door mirrors a height-adjustable driver's seat. If you want air-conditioning the best thing to do would be to pay an extra £345 for the Easy Air rather than choose it as an option, since it costs £655 that way. The range-topping Lounge is the only Doblo with alloy wheels, and it also has air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and auxiliary ports, folding door mirrors and cruise control as standard.
The space-per-pound ratio is quite something
If you don't mind the basic Pop specification you can have a Doblo for under £14,000, or about the same as a mid-level supermini. The space-per-pound ratio is quite something, but you have to bear in mind that the Doblo is just over six feet tall and very slab-sided. Aerodynamically, it's a disaster area, and that's bound to affect the combined fuel economy and CO2 emissions and, in turn, the running costs. The best performer here is the 89bhp diesel with the Dualogic gearbox, whose figures are 56.5mpg and 133g/km. Vehicle Excise Duty is £130 per year, and the Benefit In Kind rating will rise from 24 per cent to 27 per cent between April 2015 and April 2019. At the other end of the spectrum, the petrol car manages 39.2mpg (on the EU test, but probably quite a lot less in daily use) and emits 165g/km of CO2. It is, however, much cheaper than either of the diesels, and its lower fuel economy will be less obvious if it's used only for short journeys.
The Doblo is an undeniably spacious vehicle, at least for luggage if not so much for five of the seven possible passengers, and while it looks as if it should drive like a van it actually handles very well, at least up to a point. Running costs may be on the high side, but they're acceptable for this kind of vehicle.