Fiat Doblo Estate 2001-2005

Fiat Doblo Estate 2001-2005

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Surprisingly inexpensive
  • Completely fulfils its purpose ‐ very practical

Cons:

  • Not as refined as a normal passenger car
  • Not great to drive with the weaker engines

Overview

Cars like the Fiat Doblo and Renault Kangoo have made pick-ups cool and desirable. What makes Doblo an even better purchase is its low price and great fuel economy. It's a great car for an active family or for a small business. It made debut in 2000 as a civilised version of a small commercial truck. Created to the high standards of delivery trucks, it retains a strong suspension and is generally very well built.

Exterior and Interior

The car has a distinctive boxy shape and although it may not be to the taste of many drivers', you have to admit that it stands out from the crowd and is nowhere near as boring as the usual commercial vans. It comes with several different body modifications ‐ with one or two sliding doors and with either 5 or 7 seating arrangement. All seven people will travel in comfort as it's a great family car. The rear seats can be tucked away unfolding a generous 3000-litre luggage space. It is a car for the people who prefer a higher driving position. You do get to see past the roofs of the "normal" cars but don't expect to see much ‐ the hefty A-pillars will be in the way, so you have to develop a good intuition in order to be driving this safely. There's not much to be said about the interior. No element can be called beautiful or refined but on a positive ‐ everything is built to last and will withstand heavy use.

Performance and Economy

Stay away from the old-style 1.9-litre diesel. If you buy a post-2004 Doblo, you don't have to worry about it anyway. When it comes to the smaller engines, both the 1.2-litre petrol and the 1.25-litre diesel units are sufficient but only to the point where you don't haul too much stuff or don't regularly drive with all 7 seats occupied. It is a rather hefty car hence you'll be more happy with either the 1.6-litre petrol or the 1.9-litre turbo diesel engine. Both provide decent fuel economy ‐ averaging at 31 and 42mpg respectively. You'll start saving money just by choosing a Doblo because it is so cheap to buy ‐ significantly cheaper than French alternatives and not miles away from them performance-wise. It will also be relatively cheap to insure ‐ most of the variation and derivatives coming in around insurance group 11 ‐ the same as the Kangoo or Peugeot Partner.

Like to Drive

Not bad for a boxy car like this. The reinforced suspension shows its character when negotiating potholes but generally it boasts a pleasant ride, so it should keep all the members of the family reasonably happy. You'll enjoy the steering and will soon forget about the size of the car. It's worth remembering that the Doblo comes with rear drum brakes so the brake efficiency isn't as high as on cars that have 4 disk brakes.

Faults and Repairs

It is a rugged and basic car and rarely has any serious mechanical faults. It's not advisable though to buy any pre-2002 petrol cars or pre-2004 diesels. They are known to have had issues, some of which even had to be sorted by recalling the cars. Choosing a newer Doblo will also save you from the ABS-faults that plagued the first models. What you often find with utility cars is that they've seen extensive use; and it really depends on the previous owner. Fiat commercial cars are difficult to kill although some people manage it anyway. Inspect the usual points that can suggest too much wear and listen to the noises coming from the engine or gearbox.