Dated, but proven, tough and great value
We got a truly exceptional deal on the car, and the pre-delivery inspection was rushed/no frills - but we could live with this at a 34% discount on list price...
(NB - I am very fussy and inspect cars obsessively - see 2007 Perodua Myvi SXi, 2007 Fiat Panda Multijet, 2006 Suzuki Swift DDiS reports)
Some rough edges on the interior plastics needed cutting off/smoothing - easy to do with craft knife.
Fuel cap drip flap had to be trimmed - huge rough edge not trimmed off at build stage - easy to do with craft knife.
Some white stress marks in a plastic overhead shelf, where it was forced into place at the factory - very minor.
OSR sliding door window rubber sagging and needed gluing.
Rear light cluster surrounds and OSR bumper corner had been repainted to a less than magnificent standard - but after commenting, the dealer compensated with cheque to cover getting this redone, which was lovely of them - left as is.
Mats and clips thrown in boot and not fitted - but deal was cheap!
Valet not brilliant, but OK.
Really, I am picking holes in a good car at a truly superb price, so ignore all of the above.
I have previously bought a new Citroen Berlingo 2.0 HDi Desire in 2004 (see "like a badly dressed friend.." report), sold it and missed the practicality.
Now we are expecting our first child, we need a family car - I would have bought another Berlingo, but fancied a different car and the Fiat ticked the boxes and undercut the Citroen by over £1000 (best deals).
The overall impression of the car is that it is a huge and useful, no nonsense tough van-based car at the same price as a new Fiesta.
We have a September 2007 built Doblo with the latest red (500 style) badges.
It is dated in places and due to be replaced very soon by the new Fiat Fiorino van/people carrier, as seen on:
The new one looks much more up to date and will be more economical, lower tax band, better stereo etc.
First impressions of the Doblo:
A pleasant car which is easy to use with great visibility and (heated) mirrors, reasonable daily economy of 40mpg, good driving position and huge space.
Compared to the Berlingo, it has more power and a larger load bay, corners better and is much cheaper. It also has much more road presence and seems to be more respected than the smoother looking Berlingo - you find people get out of the way or give way to you in the Doblo, and just laugh and drive at you in the Berlingo.
The Berlingo has more equipment-fingertip control stereo, glass roof with excellent built in roof rack, Modubox, overhead lockers, more 12v powerpoints, softer seats and a softer ride, but rolls more on corners, lifts an inside wheel on harsh cornering, and has very sensitive ABS, which cuts in too soon.
The Doblo is more van-like and drives as such with rear leaf springs, but is better planted on the road, corners better, and has better brakes and generally feels tougher.
Price, size of cabin and boot, tough, equipment, solid drive, 6 speaker stereo, well proven powertrain, Fiat service has been A1, good dual trip/fuel computer and display, non-intrusive electronics; you can turn warning buzzers off, separate interior lights in front cabin, rear cabin and boot are all independently triggered, nice alloys, enormous tailgate great shelter when loading boot in the rain, first class large heated electric mirrors, dash mounted gear stick, driver's armrest.
Daft stereo turns off 20 minutes after you remove the keys, or has to be turned off manually, which takes 10 seconds - Fiat say they will replace if it cannot be programmed differently, rough edges/poor quality control as above, rear seat passengers complain of bouncy ride over poor surfaces, no ISOFIX or side airbags, key has same button for lock and unlock-not separate buttons, Dynamic trim has old fashioned rear headrests which obscure rear view mirror view of behind (we have removed the centre one) (Family trim has newer style child/adult headrests which retract), rear passengers struggle to work out how to open rear doors and press lock button not opening lever by mistake, mirrors create wind noise, car corners well, but unsettled when lane-changing on motorway, steering quite heavy at low speeds, no rubber seal around outer lower door edge means sills/lower door inners get filthy quickly, rear wiper not intermittent.
At the price it is excellent, but we feel that the lack of ISOFIX, and the poor design of the centre rear headrest is an oversight.
Do be aware that this is a van based car and is basic - not like a Zafira - the rear seats do fold, but do not remove, and they do split-fold, but the design means you can only tumble just one seat independently in the Dynamic - you cannot tumble the right two seats leaving the single left seat in place. Who cares with this much space?!
We wanted to buy a Doblo 1.3 Multijet Dynamic, but this is not made - the 1.3 Multijet 85 BHP is only available in the Active model or Family 7 seater, and we wanted the 5 seat Dynamic. The 1.9 120 unit is good, but has maximum power at 3000rpm, not at 1750rpm - just over tickover as on the 1.3.
The 1.9 120 needs revving to pull, which is at odds with the type of vehicle, and makes it harder to drive and noisier.
We have the 1.3 unit in our 2007 Panda (but only 70BHP) and it is SUPERB, and a more modern, quieter, more refined and economical unit than the 1.9 - and the 1.3 Family 7 seater is in a lower tax band than our 5 seater 1.9.
If I chose again, I would have a 1.3 Multijet Active with air-con as an option - it is not standard on the Active and costs £600 extra. The deal on the 1.9 we got was so good it that it actually worked out cheaper than 1.3 Active and we are very happy with the car.
NB: If you are worried about the power of the 1.3 in such a large car, do not be - it is by far the best unit, and has ample power and better refinement and economy, as well as a lighter gear change and lower tax band.
The power band is better suited to this type of car, with pull directly from tickover - it still goes fast too.
The 1.9 120 is overkill with this chassis and handling, and 1.9 105 is totally pointless next to the more advanced new 1.3 85. No point looking at the 1.4 petrol, at any price.
Interestingly, my wife finds the Doblo actually easier to drive than her 2007 Panda, owing to the higher driving position, great visibility and huge mirrors. She finds it both easier to park and to place in the correct position on the road - this was a factor in our choice - she was intimidated by "rounder" family cars where the dimensions are harder to judge.
I will update as the miles pile on, but happy at present and hope that Fiat resolve the stereo.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 3rd December, 2007