All commercial vehicles claim to be tough and workmanlike, but here's one that can hardly be anything but. The IVECO Daily's heavy commercial ancestry gives it a capable, unbreakable feel that sets it apart in the big Transit-class market for large LCVs. Now that the Italian brand has also matched this with more efficient engines and a smarter, more car-like cabin, the Daily can appeal to a wider cross-section of business buyers than ever before.
Truck-like toughness sounds good on the balance sheet, but doesn't hold much appeal if it comes with a van you've to drive long distances in or hurry through a set of twisties on the way to a short notice appointment. So how will this Daily van fare, given its truck-tailored underpinnings? Better than I was expecting it to if I'm honest. Thanks to a high seating position and monster wing mirrors, it's an easy van to drive, especially round town where the light steering facilitates a tight 11.5m kerb-to-kerb turning circle (or 12.4m wall-to-wall).
And under the bonnet? Well, most Daily customers will opt for the 2.3-litre Multijet II diesel option, offered with either 106, 126 or 146bhp, units pokey enough to put out anything between 270 to 350NM of torque. Enough to tow a braked trailer of between 2800kg and 3500kgs, depending on the variant you choose. Not enough for the job in hand? Then you'll need the 3.0-litre Common Rail diesel, with a choice of 146, 170 or 205bhp, the latter twin turbo unit the most powerful four-cylinder diesel on the market putting out a hefty 470NM of torque.
There's also a battery-only all-electric model and a clever 'Natural Power' variant. This features a 3.0-litre 136bhp engine tuned for methane power but able to run on ordinary petrol if you need it to. Transmission choice is between five and six-speed manual 'boxes or a 6-speed AGile semi-automatic transmission for urban-based users. Ride quality will depend to a great extent upon your choice between three different suspension systems which can be hung from the rear axle - parabolic, semi-elliptical and air.
The Daily has always been a tough customer. These days though, it's also usefully softer around the edges - or so IVECO hopes. You'd not miss the Italian brand's ownership of this design, emblazoned as it is across the large silver grille strip that dominates the front end, hiding the redesigned radiator that was necessary to house the cooling system required by this improved model's pokier, more sophisticated engines.
And inside? Well the interior still can't live with the best panel vans in terms of aesthetics and build quality but the gap to the class leaders has narrowed substantially following a whole series of recent improvements that suggest the Italian brand to be finally getting to grips with the need of drivers, as well as the operators that pay them. As usual with a van of this kind, you sit high up with commanding all-round vision further aided in this case by the huge door mirrors with their useful lower wide-angle section. Despite liberal use of Fiat switchgear and instrumentation around the dash, there's nothing particularly car-like about it but at least everything feels built to last. There's also plenty of storage provision and the steering wheel adjusts for height (though not for reach).
If you need an ordinary van that can take big loads, there are plenty of LCVs out there that fit the bill. But what if you want something more than that? Something designed just like a fully-fledged heavy commercial vehicle but lighter, more efficient and shaped to compete with the best in the large van market. A serious tool for the serious jobs you have in mind. That's when you'd turn to this IVECO Daily van. In the past, you might have done so, then begun to wonder at the creaky HGV-inspired interior and the rudimentary road manners. But both are issues now fully sorted in this much improved model.
Powerful, ecological and reliable, it remains tough enough to make some of its Transit-class rivals seem a little lightweight. It also offers the widest powertrain choice in the market and an unsurpassed load-lugging capacity. But now as well as all that, there's a little more polish, a little more finesse in the more efficient, cost-effective way it goes about its business. There are still, it's true, smarter, sharper-to-drive choices you could make in this segment and if you're an owner-driver, you might be tempted to make them. Well-informed operators though, will find today's Daily a hard van to ignore, so thoroughly designed around their needs has it been. A van from a brand with a total commercial vehicle remit. And a brand that like you, is completely focused on just one thing: getting the job done right.Click here to find out more about our Iveco Daily range