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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For There’s masses of space and it’s cheap, too

Against Yucky plastics and poor safety kit

Verdict Cheap and flexible family transport

Go for… 1.9 diesel Active

Avoid… 1.2 petrol

Fiat Doblo MPV
  • 1. The light steering is a real help with parking and manoeuvring
  • 2. Higher-powered diesel engines can sound clattery at low speeds
  • 3. Anti-lock brakes were a cost option on earlier models, so you'll need to check whether they are included on any car you look at
  • 4. The interior plastics look cheap and unappealing, but they're tough enough to withstand heavy use
  • 5. Check that any necesary recall work has been done to the accelerator pedal and driver's airbag
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Fiat Doblo MPV full review with expert trade views

The Doblo is surprisingly good to drive, and the steering is light, which helps with parking and manoeuvring. Its handling is agile and composed, and it rides well for a car of this size and shape. This makes it ideal for family use – children aren’t going to be lurching about feeling sick in the back. The only real complaint is that over bumpy roads it can feel pretty firm.

However, the boxy shape does kick up wind noise on the motorway. The higher-powered diesel engines can sound clattery at low speeds, too.

Five can travel in comfort, or seven if you opt for the Family model. And, if you fold down the split-folding rear seats, that will extend the already enormous load space into your very own removals van.

While the upright driving position allows great visibility, the seat isn’t the most supportive and the rear corners and front windscreen pillars are fairly thick, so could impede your view.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Diesel JTD engines and seven-seat Family models preferred by buyers

James Ruppert
Used car guru

We’d recommend the 1.9 105bhp JTD diesel, which should make light work of hauling a laden Doblo up hills.

Originally, the car was available with a 65bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine or non-turbo 63bhp 1.9-litre diesel, neither of which was powerful enough for this car. ELX versions of the 1.9 get air-con, alloys and three-point belts for all the rear seats, but were discontinued in 2002.

The range was revised in April 2004, and we'd recommend finding one of these newer models. New engines included a willing 70bhp 1.3-litre diesel and 77bhp 1.4-litre petrol (which replaced the 1.2). Interior revisions included 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and three rear three-point belts and headrests across the range. The Family seven-seat model was also introduced.

Active trim reflects its cheap price, with power steering, front electric windows and remote central locking as the only treats. Our preferred Dynamic trim adds air-con, CD player and alloy wheels.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Average reliability: expensive claims but low frequency

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

The Doblo's real attraction is that it is a cheap way to get a vast family car. Where else can you get so much space for so little money?

Running costs are reasonable, too, and the 1.3-litre diesel manages more than 50mpg on average. The 1.9-litre diesel is expensive to service, however the 105bhp version achieves 48.7mpg on average. The 1.4-litre petrol model is thirstier, with an official average consumption of 38.2mpg.

Most models sit in group five for insurance, which compares well with other MPVs.

Should anything break, repair costs are marginally above average in price, according to Warranty Direct.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Diesel JTD engines and seven-seat Family models preferred by buyers

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Some of the plastics feel hard and don’t look very appealing, but they are designed to withstand heavy use. You're best advised to check for any damage, though. These are family workhorses, after all.

Check, too, that the work has been carried out on models affected by the recalls that were issued on some models in 2002. One was to tackle a wiring problem that caused some drivers’ airbags to deploy without warning, and the other affected the accelerator pedal’s travel.

Safety kit is disappointing, so shop around for cars with options fitted. Twin front airbags are standard on every model, but side ’bags were extra, as were anti-lock brakes on earlier models, so check whether they are included. However, traction control was never an option, and nor were an alarm or deadlocks, which may put you off.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Average reliability: expensive claims but low frequency

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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