Super Size Me

Iveco’s 50C18 is big, beautiful and great to drive. Chris Mullett reports

In our last issue, we looked at the IVECO ECODaily at the lighter end of the market, and came away thinking that, with its 1,500 kg payload, this all-round performer could be the ideal answer to anyone wanting a van that drives like a car but remains as tough as a truck.

Thanks to a full chassis, the ECODaily range has the edge on all other van makers that rely on monocoque construction. If you like a traditional chassis, then you’ll already appreciate the reasons why IVECO may be the right answer for your transport needs.

This time around, we’ve headed straight up to the top end of the ECODaily range, with our road test on the 50C18. To find out just what you get for your money, read on.

The 50C18 gives buyers a sort of big and bigger choice, thanks to two wheelbase options of 3,300 mm or 3,950 mm. While the interior width of the cargo area stays identical at 1,800 mm, the length increases from 3,520 mm out to 4,560 mm and the interior height extends from 1,900 mm up to 2,100 mm. In terms of overall length, the dimensions are either 5,997 mm or 7,012 mm.

This is one big van, and you start to realise that you are in proper truck territory when you start to turn your seven-metre long van around and find you need anything up to 15-metres to end up pointing in the opposite direction. The advantage, of course, is that you have an incredible amount of usable, interior cargo space.

Cargo space is one thing, payload and GVM or GCM (Gross Vehicle Mass or Gross Combined Mass) is something totally different. In the 50C18, the payload ranges from 2060 kg (with an optional increase to 2,765 kg) for the shortest wheelbase, but decreases, as you extend the body and wheelbase, to 1,885 kg (again optionally up to 2,590 kg, dependent on State Regs) for the longest wheelbase version. At this rating, the GVM is under 4,500 kg, and is actually set at 4,405 kg to negate the need for a specific light-truck driver’s licence.

It is, however, possible to take advantage of the higher GCM, as, at this weight rating, it remains an option to tow a braked trailer weighing up to 3,500 kg. Now perhaps you can see why having a chassis makes such a difference. None of the monocoque construction vans on the market can offer this level of towing alternative.Iveco-Daily-2

If your driver has a truck licence, it opens further possibilities, and by purchasing the 70C17 EEV, you can raise your GVM to 7,000 kg and take advantage of a payload increase to 4,140 kg, while retaining the option of towing a braked trailer weighing up to 3,500 kg.

Getting the load in and out of the cargo area, of either wheelbase, is accomplished through large, barn-type, rear doors that open to offer a width of 1,540 mm, and a height variation, dependent on where the roof is, that extends from 1,780 mm up to 1,990 mm. The side sliding door remains a standard size, at 1,250 mm width and with a height of 1,780 mm.

You get a choice of two diesel engines, one of which is greener in its attributes and offers lower exhaust emissions. Both are 3.0-litre, four-cylinder, direct-injected diesel engines, which are intercooled, and turbocharged using a variable geometry turbocharger. Both engines feature a cast iron engine block with an aluminium cylinder head, and utilise common-rail fuel injection and exhaust gas recirculation to keep emissions low.

The more environmentally conscious engine produces marginally lower power outputs (130 kW against 124 kW at 3,000-3,500 rpm) but shares the same torque rating of 400 Nm between 1,250-3,000 rpm. Transmission choices are identical for both engines, with either a six-speed manual or six-speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) being available.

With disc brakes all round, there are no complaints about stopping power, and the ride and comfort levels are also suitably impressive. Buyers do get a suspension choice for the rear of the van, with an optional electronically controlled air suspension (ECAS), which replaces a parabolic spring design with dampers and rebound stops. The front suspension remains identical, irrespective of rear-end choice, using an independent suspension design incorporating torsion bars and double acting dampers.

It’s when you begin to evaluate the in-built safety features, that you start to appreciate just how far ahead the European van design has reached when compared to the alternative light truck with a box body.

The disc brakes on each axle are actuated though an ABS anti-lock system that incorporates electronic brake force distribution to avoid any premature brake locking. But, the good things continue for safety, with a full electronic stability programme (ESP), anti-slip reduction (ASR or Traction Control), MSR (Motor Torque Reduction), Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA) and hill holder.

The driver gets an SRS airbag with seat belt pre-tensioners, and, optionally available, are passenger airbags plus side window airbags. The front of the vehicle is also designed with all the right levels of controlled deformation on major impact, with the aim of preserving the integrity of the vehicle cabin.

All these good bits and pieces of mechanical specification give an excellent indication of just how much you can carry, and how safe you and the load will be while you are on your way to the destination. But you also need to know just how comfortable you’re going to be while piloting the van through the suburbs.Iveco-Daily-8

It starts, as well as it could, by nominating the design of the driver’s seat to include an ISRI seat. The ISRI seat is about as good as it’s possible to get, with German manufacturer ISRI responsible for providing the driver’s seats on the top long haul trucks throughout Europe and Japan.

You step into the cabin, rather than climb in as you do into a light truck. And, once onboard, what you are looking at is very much car-like.

The steering is light and responsive, interior noise levels are low and you are immediately aware of the tremendous thought that has gone into the design of the interior. All gauges and dials are easy to reach, easy to view and have a functionality that is easy to understand. There are plenty of stowage spaces, even for clipboards and delivery notes, so there’s every reason to expect not to lose any vital paperwork.

Our test vehicle was equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox, and with a gear lever that sprouts from the dashboard, it’s easy to use, and the individual ratios compliment the way the engine produces its power and torque.

Service intervals are at an impressive 40,000 km interval, and with up to 17 cubic metres and four tonnes of payload, there’s not many transport tasks the Daily is not going to be able to tackle.

Our thanks to Iveco Trucks of Arndell Park, Sydney, for providing the vehicle on test.

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