Review: Fiat Ducato (2006)

Rating:

Tight turning circle, comfortable cabin with room for three, strong 2.3-litre diesel engine.

Noisy engines, disappointingly no ESP as standard until April 2013, gearbox failure quite common.

Recently Added To This Review

14 June 2019 New engines and nine-speed auto added to Ducato range

The Ducato has been updated for MY20 with a range of improved Euro6D engines, a nine-speed automatic transmission with torque converter, advanced ADAS driving assist systems and revised exterior. The... Read more

29 April 2014 Ducato Sportivo launched

Adds alloy wheels, engine power upgrades, Sportivo side-stripes and painted bumpers. As with Tecnico versions, air conditioning, Blue&Me connectivity with a TomTom satnav dock, front fog lights and... Read more

5 April 2013 ESP made standard fit

Fiat finally made ESP (electronic stability programme) standard across the entire range of Ducato vans, chassis cabs, combis and minibuses. Read more

Fiat Ducato (2006): At A Glance

The long running Fiat Ducato series has a history reaching all the way back to 1981. In more recent years, the Ducato has been a joint collaboration between Fiat and its French partners, Citroen and Peugeot. This means the Ducato has most of the virtues and vices of the Relay and the Boxer.

However, the Ducato has one advantage over its French cousins with the range of Fiat engines used, which includes a strong 2.3-litre diesel in various power outputs and a very swift 3.0-litre diesel with 180PS.

The Ducato is a little more expensive to buy than some rivals but it’s also offered with an optional six-speed semi-automatic gearbox in place of the standard six-speed manual transmission. Fiat offers a wide range of different body shapes and sizes, as well as a long wheelbase model. There is further choice thanks to the Ducato being offered in minibus or chassis cab versions, with the later popular among motorhome manufacturers.

Drivers are keen on the Ducato for its high-set driving position and generous amounts of storage inside the cab that makes it a good working environment. Throw in good levels of equipment, generous maximum payloads and a tight turning circle and the Ducato is a solid workhorse of a van.

Fiat Ducato (2006): What's It Like Inside?

With payload capacities that run from 1000kg to 2000kg and gross vehicle weights from three to four tonnes, the Fiat Ducato could not be accused of not offering choice. This choice is further enhanced by three wheelbase offering, four lengths for the standard panel van and three different roof heights. It all adds up to a van that is easily tailored to the individual needs. There is also the option of the Maxi version of the Ducato that comes with reinforced suspension and 16-inch wheels for those who carry heavier weights on a regular basis.

Whatever weight of cargo you need to cart around, the Ducato offers everything from decent 8.0m3 volume all the way up to a massive 17.0m3, with a total of eight different load volumes available depending on which configuration you choose. To keep loads securely in place, there are eight fixing hooks in the shorter wheelbase models and 12 in the long wheelbase version, plus folding rings to give more lashing points.

Access to the load space is through rear doors and sliding side doors. The rear doors open to 90-degrees and 180-degrees, and as an option you can order rear doors that open to a full 270-degrees to sit flush with the side of the van when opened. The sliding side doors come in two different sizes, with longer doors for the long wheelbase model to make the most of its additional length of ease of entry and exit. A light in the ceiling of the load area helps at night and this can be specified to be removable for those who need the absolute full height of the cargo bay. The load bay can be lined with plywood from the factory, and mesh rear window grilles are another optional extra.

More options come in the form of a tow bar, a roof rack with ladder access and a reversing camera with drop-down screen mounted in the roof console in the cabin. Fiat also offers full size passenger and side airbags for added safety.

Up in the front of the Ducato, there’s a comfortable driver’s seat and two additional passenger seats that also offer decent comfort, even when all three are in use. A dash-mounted gear lever helps free up more space for the centre passenger’s feet.

Every Ducato model has lots of storage cubbies and trays within easy reach of the driver, while optional climate control can cool the cabin quickly with the aid of solar-reflecting glass. The centre seat, where fitted, can be folded down to make a handy desk, while optional Blue&Me TomTom satellite navigation mounts to a plinth in the centre of the dash top to be clearly visible by the drive.

With 28,000-mile service intervals, the Fiat Ducato need not see the inside of a dealer’s service bay for prolonged periods, which means less downtime and less expense for its owner and driver.

What's the Fiat Ducato (2006) like to drive?

Revisions to the Ducato engine range in 2011 saw the 2.3-litre engine being offered in three versions, covering 110PS, 130PS and 150PS forms. There is also a 180PS 3.0-litre turbodiesel for those who either fancy setting a world land speed record or really need the extra oomph for regularly hauling very heavy loads.

In most circumstances, the mid-level 2.3-litre turbodiesel is the best all-rounder thanks to its 320Nm of shove. This combines with the six-speed manual gearbox to make the Ducato both decently nippy through town and a reasonably relaxed cruiser on the motorway. Due to the engine’s strong low and mid-rev push, it also gets up to higher speeds with ease, even when there’s a big payload in the back of the van and three occupants up front. It can also be ordered with stop/start to help lower fuel consumption and consequent bills.

The 3.0-litre diesel is offered with a six-speed manual as standard or the option of a Comfort-Matic semi-automated six-speeder. We’d stick with the manual as the semi-auto isn’t as intuitive or seamless as some competitors with similar gearboxes, notably from Mercedes-Benz. Yes, it helps cut fuel consumption and can make town driving less of a chore, but it’s notchy in action and the standard manual’s clutch pedal doesn’t need a Russian shot-putter’s leg muscles to operate.

At low speeds, the Ducato is easy to park and negotiate around tight streets thanks to its excellent turning circle. It’s a mere 11.0m for the short wheelbase Ducato, which matches many smaller vans’, while even the largest, longest Ducato can still get round very acute bends with ease.

Still at low speeds around town, the Ducato has quite a firm ride when it’s not laden with goods. It can mean potholes and broken roads are felt more in the Fiat than in some of the competition, such as the Ford Transit. Also, until April 2013, the Ducato did not have the Ford’s standard ESP, so slippery junctions and corners can see a wheel spin up if the driver is not careful when applying the power.

At higher speeds, the Ducato’s ride is smoother and the firm-ish suspension also equates to roll-free handling. This makes the Ducato a good place to be when dealing with twisty country roads as you don’t feel you’re being buffeted like a sapling in a gale. Anti-lock brakes give plenty of confidence, but the noise from the engine and general hubbub in the cab at higher speeds are less impressive.

Real MPG average for a Fiat Ducato (2006)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their vehicles could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

87%

Real MPG

24–42 mpg

MPGs submitted

28

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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