What Car? says...
Of all the things to name a van after, an ancient coin would not normally be a front runner – but then again, the Fiat Talento is not a typical van.
Launched in 2016, the Talento is a rebadged version of the Renault Trafic, which, despite being launched two years earlier, is still one of the best mid-sized vans in the segment.
Everything except the grille and badges are shared parts with the Renault, which means that when the Trafic gets an update, so too does the Talento. New for the 2020 model year, the medium-sized Fiat van gets a new engine and revamped interior to ensure that it stays up to date when compared with key rivals such as the Citroën Dispatch, Peugeot Expert and Ford Transit Custom.
The previous 1.6-litre engine, which was available with either single or twin turbochargers, has now been replaced by a 2.0-litre engine producing up to 167bhp.
The larger engine now has only a single variable-geometry turbocharger and, as a result, produces roughly the same power and torque; there are 117bhp, 143bhp and 167bhp options, producing 236lb ft, 258lb ft and 280lb ft respectively. It is also up to 2% more efficient, according to Renault.
Renault and Fiat also differentiate their offerings by selling them with different equipment options, chief of which is that the Talento is not sold with the option of an automatic gearbox, instead coming only with a six-speed manual.
Buyers can choose from low and high-roof vans, plus crew cab and platform cab versions. There are also two body lengths and two different wheelbases, enabling up to 8.6m3 of load capacity.
As well as a base model called Standard, there are also SX and Tecnico trims. The Sportivo option gives customers a three-tiered choice of what options and accessories they want on their van.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Unlike the old 1.6-litre engine, which at times felt stressed, the new 2.0-litre option is very well suited to powering the Talento.
Of the power units available – which Fiat refers to as 120, 145 and 170 – it is the top two that really perform at their best in the Talento.
Our preference would be the 170, which feels like the most natural fit, given the size of the van. However, if you transport lighter loads, the 145 is just as good.
All engines are fitted with stop-start technology to improve fuel economy.
To drive, the Talento sits just behind the class-leading Ford Transit Custom and Volkswagen Transporter but is on a par with the competition from Citroën, Vauxhall and Peugeot.
For most, that will be plenty good enough, and the Talento is certainly both reassuring to drive and comfortable to be in.
The steering in the Talento is particularly precise and its ride is comfortable, both laden and unladen. Owners of the previous-generation model will particularly note how much better this one is to to drive with a light load, as well as how much quieter it is – albeit with a noticeable amount of wind noise.
The interior layout, fit and finish
This latest Talento will look very familiar to owners of the older model.
The inside is still functional rather than dazzling, with the Standard van getting a silver satin finish on its dash, while all other models get piano black.
DAB and Bluetooth come as standard but are replaced by a decent 7.0in infotainment touchscreen on the Tecnico and Sportivo versions, incorporating the latest Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and a plethora of steering wheel controls.
All models get heated, electric mirrors, a one-touch-down driver’s window and a fully adjustable driver’s seat with armrest, as well as automatic engine stop-start and an immobiliser. Other notable features of the interior include a smartphone cradle integrated into the dash and a central seat that folds down to produce a table work-top area.
Air conditioning, reversing sensors and a wide-view passenger mirror to allow you to see more at junctions all come as standard on SX models and above, but step up to the Tecnico range and you start to get more of the nice-to-have items, including cruise control with speed limiter, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights.
A rear parking camera is available as an option on all but the Sportivo variant, where it is standard.
We think the Tecnico model represents the best value for money, but Fiat is also keen on regularly launching special editions, so it is always worth weighing up the latest offers.
Storage around the driver and passenger could be improved, but as a working environment, the Talento ticks many boxes for ergonomics and comfort.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The Talento, like the Renault Trafic, has always been an above-average van when it comes to the dimensions of its load space.
The rear proportions have not been altered for this latest model, which means that the Talento still has one of the best load allowances of any mid-sized van, with up to 8.6m3 load volume possible.
Overall length for the short-wheelbase van remains at 4999mm, while the long-wheelbase version’s wheelbase is 5399mm; that equates to a rear storage length of 2537mm and 2937mm respectively. The addition of a load-through bulkhead adds more than 1.2m of additional length to allow you to move longer items such as pipes or timber. That means the length of the short-wheelbase van's load bay increases to 3750mm and a long-wheelbase model stretches to 4150mm.
The option of two roof heights and two lengths on two separate wheelbases means that the Talento is versatile for a range of uses. It has also enabled Fiat Professional to partner with a number of bodybuilders to create converted versions off a platform cab chassis.
Payload capacity ranges from 1075kg in vans with a gross vehicle weight of 2.8 tonnes through to a maximum of 1280kg in a 3.0-tonne van.
All models get a passenger side door fitted as standard, plus 180-degree rear doors, although there is the option of 250-degree openers.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
We would recommend avoiding the Standard models altogether, because limited resale appeal for such sparsely equipped vans will hurt you when it either comes to sell or inflate the monthly payments on a lease because of the proportionately higher depreciation.
To an extent, the same can be said for SX trim, which really doesn’t give you much in the way of equipment or creature comforts.
In contrast, the two higher trims offer remarkably good value for money compared with pricier vans in the highly competitive medium van segment.
Those two trim levels also automatically get the new touchscreen infotainment system, which is a definite upgrade over the standard Bluetooth-enabled DAB radio.
The Talento is backed up by a four -year, 100,000-mile warranty, and the Fiat Professional dealers are one of the more capable commercial vehicle-focused networks on offer.
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