What is it? Fiat’s answer to the Ford Transit Custom compact van.
Key features: Mid-sized panel van, 1.6-litre single or twin turbo diesel engine (four versions at 95-145hp)
Our view: Load space is generous, cabin is well thought out and comfortable. A solid rival for its competitors.
Type of review: Taster Test
What’s new? Just about everything! Fiat Professional’s increased effort to take a larger slice of the LCV market sees it abandon its Scudo model, which was built in a joint effort with PSA and closely related to the Citroën Dispatch and Peugeot Expert, for a new deal with Renault and Vauxhall/Opel.
Under the Fiat badges the architecture of this van is basically the same as the Renault Trafic and Vauxhall Vivaro. Named after an ancient coin, the van revives a badge last used by Fiat in 1993.
The newcomer, which launches into a competitive market topped by the almighty Ford Transit, is available in nine different body versions, short and long wheelbase, standard or high roof, and like its rivals can also be supplied with a crew cab, as a people carrier or a platform cab for bespoke body additions.
Four versions of the 1.6-litre diesel engine are available, with single or twin turbo depending on model and in power outputs of 95, 120, 125 or 145hp. All are matched as standard to a six-speed manual gearbox and the best combined cycle fuel economy figure is quoted at 47.9mpg.
Standard equipment on entry-level models includes remote central locking, electric front windows (one-touch lowering on the driver’s side), electric heated door mirrors, a full bulkhead, a height adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support and an arm rest, dual passenger seat, and on the audio Bluetooth, DAB, USB and Aux-in all included.
What do we think of it? Competing against the all-conquering Transit is tough but Fiat is making a solid effort with this vehicle. Visually it has all the good looks of the Renault Trafic that it is based on, with the distinctive addition of the family face of the latest FIAT Professional range, ensuring that the Talento looks the part in showrooms alongside its larger sisters and the new Fullback pick-up.
The loadspace is generous, 5.2 cubic metres – good enough for three standard Euro pallets – in standard panel vans, 6m3 in long-wheelbase variants and with a high roof extending to 8.6m3.
It’s practical space too, with wide-opening rear doors, a large sliding side door, a low loading height of just 100mm and a through-loading hatch into the passenger compartment, allowing the carrying of loads up to 3.75m in length (LWB 4.15). And maximum payload is 1,249kg.
In the cabin the surroundings are equally practical and hard-wearing, well put together if not quite as plush as some rivals. But perhaps most impressive is the behind-the-wheel experience. While we were unable on this short test to try the van with a full load, the engines feel enthusiastic and freely delivering of their power, while the van is very easy to drive, just like a big car.
Verdict: The new Talento is a competitive entry into the medium van market. It certainly stands comparison with its Renault, Vauxhall and Nissan siblings, though it could be overshadowed by the new range coming from Peugeot, Citroën and Toyota.
Prices: From £19,795
On sale: July 2016
Engines: 1.6 diesel, 95hp/260Nm, 120/300, 125/320, 145/340.
Economy and emissions: 43.5mpg/170g/km (EcoJet 46.3/160), 43.5/170, 47.9/155, 46.3/160.
Test date: June 2016.
TheVanExpert Taster Tests are concise summaries of new models to the market, that we have driven for under 50 miles. They are often preludes to full road tests of the vehicle at a later date.