Dave Whyte plays in the mud with the Iveco Daily 4×4
The Iveco Daily is a popular model in the light-truck market, with plenty to offer in terms of comfort and performance. With different cab options, a strong driveline and the ability to be driven with a car licence, it is certainly a versatile model, and a strong sales performer for Iveco.
The light-truck segment covers a wide range of applications though from tradies to councils, and while the Daily is a genuine contender for most of these applications, there are those buyers who are looking for more from their light truck.
Power suppliers, fire brigades and mining companies create a niche market for light trucks with the ability to carry a decent load and a good number of crew, over ground that a light truck would not usually cover. This often requires genuine off-road ability, which is something not often found in a light truck, and not often associated with the Iveco Daily. The Iveco Daily 4×4 range stands to change that perception.
The Iveco Daily 4×4 range is not new to the Australian market, and has already proven its worth among several emergency services fleets. The latest release of the Daily 4×4 brings with it a significant improvement through the fitment of a new cab, based on the current model 4×2 cab.
The newer cab offers better noise and dust insulation, improved ergonomics and an abundance of storage space. The driver also gets a suspended seat, adjustable to suit his or her weight, while the seating for passengers (up to six in the crew-cab variant) is fixed but comfortable. The updated interior comes with climate control and Bluetooth connectivity, with the audio and hands-free controls mounted on the steering wheel. In fact, the only things within the cab to differentiate the 4×4 from its 4×2 counterpart are the two extra gear levers and the diff lock buttons fitted in the dash.
The proven driveline of the previous model is carried over, with only a few minor changes being made to what was already a very strong and capable combination. Power comes from a 3.0-lire diesel engine, with variable geometry turbocharger, that produces 170 hp (125 kW) and 400 Nm of torque. The updated engine uses AdBlue (SCR) to achieve Euro 6 emissions standards without sacrificing any power output. A standard Iveco six-speed manual transmission is slotted in behind, offering good shift quality and efficient driving at highway speeds. From here, though, the standard Iveco specification goes out the window, with a specialist built chassis and 4×4 system to make the most of the available power.
Protruding from the floor of the Daily 4×4 are two gear levers, which operate the double low-range transfer
case. Combined with the six-speed manual transmission, this transfer case offers a total of 24 gears, meaning there are plenty to choose from to find the right one for any conditions. In fact, Iveco is claiming the lowest gear ratio on the market, with a final drive ratio of 101:1 in bog cog. This means the Daily is just as comfortable at crawling pace as it is on the highway, and anywhere in between. The Daily 4×4 provides constant 4WD, and is fitted with three-way diff locks to lock the rear diff, front diff and transfer case, to handle even the toughest conditions. These are operated by simple switches mounted in the dash.
To handle the rough ground, the Daily 4×4 is fitted with three-leaf parabolic springs up front, with telescopic shock absorbers and a 24 mm stabiliser bar. The rear also features parabolic springs, with a heavier four-leaf setup, again accompanied by telescopic shock absorbers and a thicker 28 mm stabiliser bar. With the standard wheel and tyre offering, the Daily offers 255 mm ground clearance front and rear, with approach and departure angles of 48 and 39 degrees respectively (unladen, of course). This height also provides for a wading depth of 600 mm.
While the Daily 4×4 offers plenty in the way of off-road ability, safety is also an important consideration. On this front, the Daily 4×4 now comes standard with Iveco’s ESP9 braking program, which includes ABS, EBD, ASR and hill hold. The new model retains the disc-front/drum-rear braking setup, but Iveco claims a revised braking setup also improves communication between the two for improved stopping performance.
To see how all of this translates into performance, we put various single and crew-cab Daily 4x4s through their paces at the Melbourne 4×4 Training and Testing facility. The tracks covered included steep climbs and descents, water courses and various other obstacles to test the stability and flexibility of the Daily chassis. Throughout the day, the Daily 4×4 proved its off-road prowess time and again. With experienced off-road drivers to talk us through the course, the ability of the Daily 4×4 soon became clear. While some obstacles needed a second attempt, there were none that the Daily didn’t conquer.
It wasn’t just the sheer ability of the Daily 4×4 that was surprising, but also the sheer ease of driving. For many sections of the track with rough ground, the cruise control proved to be invaluable. With the cruise control working off the engine rpm rather than vehicle speed, it was a simple process to select the right gear and set the cruise, eliminating the lurching caused by the driver’s foot bouncing on and off the accelerator.
Adjusting the engine speed through the cruise control stalk, in small increments, meant it was easy to find the right speed over challenging ground. Engine braking also proved very good, making for easy control on steep descents, including some where the back wheels barely maintained contact with the ground. Vision was excellent all around the vehicle and the ride, even in the back seat, was comfortable.
The Iveco Daily 4×4 is a rare breed indeed. Not only does it cater to the needs of those specialised fleets mentioned earlier, but it does so with ease. It also offers an alternative for those who want a little more from their Land Cruiser or Patrol. There is an emerging market for off-road travellers too, who would be well served by the Daily 4×4 with a camper mounted on the back.
While you might think the Daily would be an expensive option, the prices may well surprise you. Keeping in mind the cost of a new LandCruiser or equivalent, and the extras you might fit after the initial purchase to improve its off-road ability, the Daily 4×4 actually seems like a good value option at $88,000+GST and on-roads (RRP) for the single-cab, and $94,000+GST and on-roads (RRP) for the crew-cab variant. In terms of ability, comfort and flexibility, the Iveco Daily 4×4 has plenty to offer, it’s just a matter of how it’s put to use.