Fiat’s Doblo Cargo van finally realised its potential in second generation guise. Pitched against the largest compact vans you can buy, it’s hard to better when it comes to value, practicality and low running costs. And it looks quite smart too. Canny business buyers in search of a small van from the 2010-2022 era can’t afford to ignore it.

The History

Compact vans from the 21st century’s second decade come in all shapes and sizes. This one though, Fiat’s second generation Doblo Cargo, came in more shapes and sizes than most, one of the few small vans of its era to be offered with a high roof option.

The original curiously-styled pre-2010-era version of this model offered little you couldn’t get elsewhere from Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner-class vehicles, nor did it have the kind of high-roof, extended wheelbase option that would make it a realistic compact alternative to something Transit-sized. All that though, was put right in a second generation model that turned out to be 95% all new and which was able from launch to beat most of its contemporaries in payload, load volume and running costs – in other words, all the things that really matter. It sold all the way to 2022, when it was finally replaced by a shared Stellantis Group design.

What You Get

This MK2 Doblo’s looks were more universally acceptable than was the case with its predecessor. The A-pillars are blacked-out to create a visor effect that merges the van's windscreen and side windows. Thick bumpers are employed at both ends for added protection and large wheel arches bulge from the flanks. Inside the smart cabin, much of the switchgear is straight from Fiat passenger cars, with the stereo in particular adding a passenger car-like touch. There’s no optional small centre seat of the kind that some rivals from this period offer but otherwise, the interior is hard to fault. The plastics are sturdy and the gear lever is mounted high-up within easy reach of the well-shaped height adjustable steering wheel.

Onto practicality. Even the short wheelbase model can deliver up to 750kgs (nearly 150kg more than something Fiorino or Citroen Nemo-sized), while the long wheelbase Cargo Maxi variant can extend this to a class-leading 1,000kgs, 150kgs more than Peugeot or Citroen rivals. And load volume? The short wheelbase low roof version delivers 3.4m3, a figure you could boost to 4.0m3 by finding yourself a high roof model, this van being one of the very few available with a high roof option. Go for the long wheelbase Cargo Maxi model and that figure rises to 4.2m, one that no period rival can better. Pull the nice chunky big door handles and they open to reveal an aperture 1231mm wide and either 1250 or 1455mm high, depending on whether you’ve chosen a standard or high roof model. There’s a usefully low rear loading height of 545mm and the redesigned suspension has allowed for a slimmer set of wheel boxes that allow 1230mm of loading width, easily enough for a euro-pallet.

Once inside, there’s up to 2170mm of loading length, 1550mm in hight and 1714mm of width side-to-side once you get above the wheel boxes. So yes, pretty much everything you’ll need to carry will probably fit. A sliding side door didn’t come as standard on the entry-level short wheelbase model, but it was an option, with plusher versions and the bigger Cargo Maxi model featuring a sliding door on each side 1175mm high and 700mm wide, again, enough for a euro-pallet.

What To Look For

The MK2 Doblo Cargo was on sale a long time so its issues are well documented. Look out for slow starting, tapping from the engine bay and dark smoke from the exhaust. We’ve heard reports of complete electrical malfunctions, one owner had a bumping sound from the rear, while another experienced sudden overheating. Still another reported a knocking noise from the wheels and it’s common to have issues with central locking not unlocking the rear doors. There were lots of complaints about the gearbox, so check that out on your drive. And a broken throttle is a common. The headlamps fail rather often too. And we had one owner point out that the heating doesn’t always work from cold. Having said all that, build quality is actually quite stout and most of the problems are minor things rather than issues of basic unreliability. Plus you’re not paying a huge amount in the first place.

On The Road

You don’t expect any van to offer much handling finesse, though most LCVs take corners pretty well thanks to the stiff suspension that they need for their high payloads. The flipside of that is the hard, uncomfortable ride that most of them then deliver. Come to this Doblo Cargo, as we did, expecting that and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Fiat had to develop a more sophisticated bi-link suspension system to enable the car version of this vehicle to compete with purpose-designed MPVs and it’s an impressively compliant set-up also inherited by this van version that soaks up bumps much better than you’d expect it to. It’s also a very manoeuvrable little van, with a 10.5m turning circle.

Fiat gave the Doblo a strong range of engines. There are Multijet common-rail diesels in 1.3, 1.6 and 2.0-litre guises, plus a minority-interest 1.4-litre 16-valve petrol unit. The 1.3-litre oil-burner has 90bhp and 200Nm of torque and the 105bhp 1.6 ups the torque output to 290Nm. Finally, the 2.0-litre flagship has 135bhp with a meaty 320Nm, which is a serious amount of muscle for a compact van.


This second generation Doblo Cargo makes a very canny used van buy, if you can find a good one and shop carefully. With the excellent Fiat diesel engine range put fully to work, running costs are low, while short and long wheelbase options with two roof height choices mean practicality levels are high. That last point is important: few small vans offer a high roof option but this is one of them. Prices of early versions of this MK2 Doblo Cargo are ridiculously cheap, but build quality wasn’t the best, so shop carefully. The diesel engines are strong though. As is the all-round proposition here.