8 March 2024

Fiat E-Doblo review: Trish Whelan, Irish Car

The small Fiat Doblo panel van has been produced by the Italian automaker since 2000, writes Trish Whelan. A second-generation arrived in 2010 while the third iteration of the model, a rebadged version of the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner vans, was unveiled last year with a battery electric version (BEV) offered as the e-Doblo. All are part of the huge Stellantis group and are imported and distributed in Ireland by Gowan Auto. 

Doblo is a certainly a handsome van that will look good pulling up outside a client’s premises. It is offered in both SWB and LWB versions. Exterior features on our LWB short time review version were 16-inch steel wheels with enhanced suspensions, black front and rear bumpers, side rubbing strips, Daytime Running Lights integrated in the headlights, heated/power adjustable side mirrors, twin near side sliding side doors, twin rear doors opening to 180deg. 

The interior is tailored to suit the needs of the driver with comfort, technology to help with their everyday operations as well as different space configurations. The flexible three-seat configuration (a separate driver’s seat and a 2-seater bench) allows you use the cabin as additional cargo space in the passenger compartment, providing more stability for bulky or fragile packages, while still maintaining two seats. 

It can also become a mobile office for the driver during breaks from driving. You pull down the middle seatback to avail of a table for an iPad or computer or to simply fill in delivery dockets on a hard surface or to eat a packed lunch. The driver’s seat is height adjustable with lumbar support, the latter so important to help avoid back pain for drivers whose work includes long journeys. Visibility is aided, especially coming up to roundabouts, by big A-Pillar windows and thin A-Pillars. 

The main focus is the 8-inch central infotainment touchscreen display to which you can connect your smartphone with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and use Google Maps. There’s a knob for volume control. The driver’s digital instrumentation is clear and informative with speed shown large. An out-jut on the dash incorporates a cupholder, some storage areas and transmission selector and your drive mode selection. There’s a 12V power socket way down below, close to the floor. Storage areas include a big overhead shelf that runs the width of the cabin, an area on the top of the dash, a closed cooled glove box as well as an open shelf, and big door bins. 

Standard are driver and passenger airbags, good quality cloth seat upholstery, a full size spare wheel, Hill Assist, remote central locking on all doors with deadlocking, manual air conditioning, an electric parking brake in this three-seat version, one-touch opening power windows, voice control, and remote audio controls on the steering wheel column. The steering wheel is height and reach adjustable. There’s also a range of active and passive Advanced Driving Assistance systems. The vehicle offers a really comfy driving position and car-like drive. A full steel bulkhead, with two coat hooks, protects occupants from moving cargo in the case of a sudden stop or a rear impact and there are six universal tie bracket points on the lower loading area to help keep cargo secure. 

My press van was the E-Doblo L2 Long Wheel Base 50kW, 800kg payload version. Twin sliding side doors on the LWB version help with access to the cargo area which is 1820mm long, 1714mm wide and 1305mm high. Rear doors open to 180 degrees for ease of loading or unloading. Cargo volume is up to 4.4 m3 and payload 800kg though E-Doblo can provide up to a 1,000kg payload. If more load length is needed, the ‘Magic Cargo’ feature increases the versatility of the van’s interior allows for a longer working length up to 3.44 meters. This option is not available in two-seater vans. A hard plastic floor that covers the cargo area is an optional extra as is a reversing camera, electric/heated/foldable side mirrors and fog lamp. 

E-Doblo is powered by a 136hp motor combined with a 50kWh battery pack. With a claimed range of circa 280kms, small electric vans are most suitable for urban delivery work. The range will drop considerably on longer journeys and carrying full loads. You can have a quick DC 100kW charge to 80pc in 30 mins with the 50kWh battery. The battery charging system includes a standard cable or, on request, wall boxes for fast charging. The Wall Box (AC) 11kW charger takes 5hrs to reach 100pc with the 50 kWh battery while the 7.4 kW (AC) Wall Box takes 7h 40mins. Both are best used for overnight charging. 

This battery electric vehicle (BEV) qualifies for a VRT rebate and SEAI grant support of €3,800. E-Doblo standard van €36,850 SWB; LWB €37,850.00. VAT is €7,601.22-€7,788.21; ex VAT prices are €33,048.78/€33,861.79: VRT €200.00.