Fiat Ducato to come in 4x4
Fiat has brought out a 4x4 version of its Ducato., a four-wheel drive, all-terrain vehicle which immensely extends the potential for motorhome travel. The four-wheel drive is permanent, with two transfer-boxes and an automatic central viscous coupling. This device ensures the right drive torque distribution between the front and rear wheels, optimising traction on mud, snow and sand. The driveline layout is to one side so that it takes up less room underneath the chassis and does not restrict the ease of outfitting, one of the Ducato motorhome's key plus factors. Ducato 4x4 also offers all the features of robustness and performance needed to tackle off-road trails, also with particular conversions which exploit entirely its payload.
The 4x4 version perfectly expresses the Fiat Professional brand's ability to perceive, anticipate and satisfy the market's evolving needs, nourished by skills acquired over almost a century in the sector. In fact, it was in the 1920s that the concept of the recreational vehicle first appeared, when the car ceased to occupy an elite status niche and vehicle ownership started to spread through society. At the same time, a few daring outdoor tourism pioneers had the idea of using a car not just as a means of transport, but also as a multi-purpose leisure vehicle. Fiat was already in business and ready to satisfy this new, ambitious demand, with a range of cars and light commercial vehicles to provide the basis for the first, futuristic conversions. The real revolution in the mass adoption of vehicles designed for camping came in the late-1960s: this type of tourism became fashionable with young people, and the Fiat brand was quick to respond to the growing demand with the presentation, in 1967, of the 238, the vehicle which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. Its loading capacity was outstanding by the standards of the time and, above all, it had an "all-forward" architecture, with front engine and front-wheel drive, ideal for motorhome conversions since it left plenty of space behind the cabin for the living area.
This was still just the dawn of the motorhome age, but the approach and philosophy were already very clear. Working in that tradition, with its many, ever more sophisticated developments, nowadays the Fiat Professional brand expresses its background to the full by identifying the new opportunities of an increasingly fast-evolving market. A customer-orientation epitomised by the 2006 generation of the Ducato, the first model to be developed right from the design phase with a range specifically for motorhome conversion. Thenceforward every Ducato-based motorhome enjoyed the engineering benefits of being born to be a motorhome: not an adaptation, but "naturally a motorhome", with the strength of in-depth experience. What's more, the Fiat Professional approach is truly global and reaches far beyond the product itself. It is well aware of motorhome owners' needs, and considers and supports them with a range of services constantly extended year-on-year to respond better and better to every customer's requirements.
Fiat Ducato: the only base created to be a motorhome
Thirty-six years ago, the Ducato revolutionised the large-volume van market with its front wheel drive with transverse engine, powerful engines and efficient loading area.
A revolution that seems to have no end. The current, and sixth, generation boasts the highest gross vehicle weight in the segment, the highest front axle load (up to 2100 kg) and the highest rear axle load for vehicles with single-wheel rear axles (up to 2500 kg), as well as the highest maximum payload. The exceptionally balanced chassis and specific suspensions for motorhomes ensure safety and dynamic behaviour in all road conditions. A large number of active and passive safety devices provide peace of mind at the wheel, even with the family on board.
Comfort is assured for both drivers and passengers: outstanding visibility, swivel "Captain Chair" seats, adjustable steering wheel and hydraulic power steering. The excellent ergonomic layout ensures all controls are in easy reach and gives user-friendly access to all smartphone or tablet.
As a whole, the new exterior style stems from a cutting-edge "car design" which, teamed with the concept of a genuine light commercial vehicle, conveys a strong sense of dynamism, safety, quality and sturdiness. Another outstanding feature is the possibility of customising the styling of the vehicle with a number of solutions: two different front grille colours, skid-plate highlighting the lower edge of the bumper, headlights with integrated DRL (also with LED) and a wide choice of light alloy rims.
History of a success
Since its birth back in 1981, Ducato has enabled holidaymakers to enjoy direct contact with nature and the luxury of deciding when and where to stop.
Thirty-six years ago, with the X212, the body was already available in two roof heights and Van, Combi, Bus and Truck variants. The two wheelbases (2,923 and 3,653 millimetres) meant that the van could total a load volume of 9.8 cubic metres with two payload classes (1000 and 1300 kilograms) and a total gross vehicle weight of up to 2800 kilograms.
In 1984, inclined shock absorbers were used to create a completely flat cargo area, and in 1985 the maximum payload was upped to 1800 kg with the Maxi version, while the Talento, a special version of the Ducato with shorter 2,317 millimetre wheelbase, was launched in 1988. 1989 saw the presentation of the second generation of the Ducato - the X280 - also available, even then, with four-wheel drive.
With the second series, introduced ten years after its market launch, Ducato achieved one of its first milestones: vehicle number 500,000 rolled off the Sevel assembly line on October 1st, 1991. Apart from its leading-edge style, the Ducato also introduced new specific features of vital importance for motorhomes, such as the dashboard gear lever for easier access to the living area from the cabin. The power of the 2.5 litre turbodiesel engine was increased to 70 kW (95 HP). A third wheelbase was added to the offer (3,200 millimetres).
With the third generation - the X230 introduced in 1994 - the Cx was improved to 0.35, and the design became even more automotive.
Further improvements aimed at comfort characterised the Noughties. For example, in 2002, with the fourth generation - the X244 - seat height adjustment and the three-spoke steering-wheel were introduced for the first time. The adoption, for the first time in the world on a light commercial vehicle, of a common-rail direct-injection Diesel engine, still the best solution even today for low fuel consumption and emissions, was a real technological revolution.
The Ducato X250, launched in 2006, was a game-changer in the motorhome segment. Developed over the previous three years in partnership with all Europe's top motorhome producers, it incorporated more than 50 specific features to optimise its convenience and use. The engines were also new: the two litre turbodiesel (62 kW/84 HP) was joined by a 2.3 litre four cylinder unit (81 kW/130 HP) and a completely new 3.0 litre (98 kW /157HP) engine.
The current generation of Ducato, the sixth, called the X290, boasts the highest total ground weight in the segment (up to 4400 kilograms on motorhome version or 4250 kilograms on the van version), in addition to the highest loads on the front axle (up to 2100 kg) and rear axle for vehicles with single-wheel rear axles (up to 2500 kilograms) and the highest payload. It is also available with, air suspensions on the rear axle.
The Ducato is now offered in 17,469 variants, created using different body, engine, transmission, mechanics and colour combinations.
It has always been built at Sevel (Società Europea Veicoli Leggeri - European Company for Light Commercial Vehicles) in Val di Sangro, central Italy, Europe's largest light commercial vehicle production plant, which in 2015 reached the impressive production milestone of five million vehicles.
Engines and transmissions
The technology which characterises the Ducato engines is the best example of the specific work carried out to improve efficiency with a focus on eco-friendliness. The engines, all Euro 6B, are provided with Low Pressure EGR technology (LPERG), which intercepts the exhaust gases after the DPF and returns them to the intake manifold via a low pressure circuit. This system has two advantages: it abates NOx emissions by means of a lower combustion temperature and saves fuel by ensuring better efficiency.
Furthermore, all the engines in the Ducato line-up are at the top of their class in terms of fuel efficiency and deliver high torque even at low rpm, an essential feature for motorhome drivers. The Multijet2 engine range comprises four power levels, from 115 to 180 HP: an offering capable of satisfying the most diverse needs of motorhome manufacturers and users.
In detail, the 2-litre 115 Multijet2 is the less expensive, most eco-friendly in the range, ideal above all for camper vans. It has 115 HP and a torque power of 290 rpm and uses 6 percent less fuel than the previous Euro5+; it is also teamed with a new 6-speed transmission, and also available in right-hand-drive.
The 2.3 litre 130 Multijet2 engine is the best-seller, ideal for medium-sized motorhomes: it is easy to drive in all conditions with a torque of 320 Nm available as early as at 1800 rpm. It is perfect for mixed use: agile in traffic, brilliant on long hauls. The characteristics of the 2.3 litre 150 Multijet2 engine also make it the ideal choice for larger vehicles, based on chassis-cab or chassis-cowl versions. In fact, it has a maximum torque of 380 Nm, delivered at 1500 rpm. Finally, there is the powerful 2.3 litre 180 Multijet2, the top of the range, ideal for the largest, heaviest motorhomes and, of course, for owners seeking the highest level of performance. It offers the same levels of torque and power as the previous 3.0 - namely, 180 HP and 400 Nm -, but consumes approximately 20% less. This exceptional result is also achieved by means of a series of improvements to the turbocharger's fluidodynamics, the crankshaft in special high-strength steel, the reinforced pistons and the even higher-pressure injection pump.
Another innovation covers the whole range: a new, more powerful alternator, available on request, which cuts the battery charging time by 10%.
The "Comfort Matic" robotized transmission is available on all the 2300 cc engines. This is an electrohydraulically operated robotized sequential transmission, which combines the reliability and light weight of the 6-speed manual transmission from which it is derived with the convenient option of fully automatic mode. Electronic gear shifting also gives access to a wide range of actuation strategies, from faster engine warm-up to cut consumption to the "up" function, activated with a push-button and designed to give peak performance on the toughest roads, very popular with motorhome drivers.
Safety and Infotainment
Ducato proves to be at the cutting edge also in terms of high-tech contents with its many safety and driving assist devices, in addition to the new Infotainment system. For instance, all versions are supplied, with electronic stability control (ESC) enhanced with rollover mitigation to maximise comfort, Hill Holder for easier hill starts, anti-slip regulation (ASR) and electronic emergency brake assist (EBA). Drive-assist systems include Traction+ and the innovative Hill Descent Control system (which helps when descending the steepest slopes at low speed), the lane departure warning system, traffic sign recognition (TSR) and automatic full beam headlight control.
Ducato also offers a wide range of radios, all with Bluetooth technology and MP3 player. In addition, a 5" touchscreen UconnectTM system is available, as well as reverse camera and built-in satellite navigation system. Last but not least, the whole line-up is available with Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) decoder, as well as conventional analogue radio.
Leader in freedom
Leader in freedom is a concept with a clearly defined meaning. 'Freedom' is what Fiat Professional's promises to Customers by guaranteeing that it will be on hand with a solution to any problem they may have during their holiday. "Leader", because today the Brand's offer, not only of products but also of specific services for the motorhome world, is unique and unrivalled on the market. A team of professionals has been taking care of motorhome customers and their needs since 2003. Over time, this team has expanded, improved and updated its skills, growing closer and closer to customers and their requirements.
The ability to listen to customers - which starts from Customer Care and continues in the Fiat Professional workshops - means being able to respond efficiently to current needs and plan ahead for those of the future. Therefore the service concept does not stop with product assistance but includes caring for customers on holiday by being on hand at all times Twenty multilingual Fiat Professional Brand Ambassadors are ready to take calls on the motorhome toll-free number in 44 European countries, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And, above all, they deal with any type of problem as quickly as possible, also involving the Fiat Professional technical departments if necessary.
Another customer care services is the "Conciergerie": by calling the same Camper Assistance toll-free number, customers can speak with an operator who helps them explore the additional service package, free for two years from the first registration date, which provides tourist information and help in locating and booking parking areas, camp-sites, transport, restaurants and much, much more. Fiat Professional's promise of peace of mind to its customers also includes the extended warranty. From this year, in view of the typically seasonal use of recreational vehicles, Fiat Professional is lengthening the period during which the warranty can be extended to 12 months.
TRAVELLING WITH CONFIDENCE, with Mopar® Vehicle Protection "Maximum Care" extended warranty plan. Assured confidence, by extending your Ducato Based Motorhome, beyond the factory warranty, for up to a maximum of 5 years. The protection plan built to cover all mechanical and electrical components, as well as including a complementary roadside assistance coverage.
One last, but no less important, topic is connection, meaning the way in which all the new communication technologies are used as a service aid: from the fiatcamper.com website (available in 9 languages and visited more than 50 thousand times a month), where motorhome owners can acquire and check full information about their vehicle's service status, to the app, a real utility, contents and service platform that is always to hand, downloaded onto computers and smartphones more than 90 thousand times, and from the social media, which provide the community of motorhome owners with information and advice in real time, to the monthly newsletter, dispatched to outdoor enthusiasts throughout the EMEA area.