FIAT IS attacking the 'multispace' market - the rapidly growing subdivision of the compact minivan segment - with the Doblo MPV. The Doblo is the first non-French model to be launched into the multispace market. The concept was created in 1996 when PSA/Peugeot-Citroen launched the Citroen Berlingo/Peugeot Partner.
Renault followed with the Kangoo in late 1997.
The Doblo features a passenger compartment that is very similar to the Kangoo's.
But the Doblo has an aggressive front end more typical of a big sport-utility.
The Doblo comes with a wide range of door variations. In addition to the two front doors, the vehicle can be equipped with a sliding rear door on one side, or sliding rear doors on both sides. The tailgate can be hinged at the top, like a traditional hatchback. Buyers can also choose side-hinged double rear doors split asymmetrically (one-third/two-thirds).
The Doblo is 4160mm long and 1700mm wide. With five adults on board, it still has 750 liters of luggage space.
With the rear seats folded, the cargo capacity rises to 3,000 liters.
The Doblo will be launched in November in two trim versions, SX and ELX.
Two engines will be available - a 1.2-liter, 65hp gasoline and a 1.9-liter, 63hp normally-aspirated diesel.
Next year a 1.6-liter, 103hp gasoline engine and a 1.9-liter, 100hp common-rail turbodiesel will be added.
The Doblo is the last derivative of the Fiat 178 world car program. That program has so far spawned the Palio hatchback, Siena sedan, Palio Weekend station wagon and Strada pickup.
Unlike the other models in the program, the Doblo won't be built in South America.
The only production center - for both western Europe and South America - will be Tofas, Fiat's join manufacturing venture in Turkey.
Installed capacity could exceed 100,000 units a year. The Doblo includes six airbags - two at the front, two at the side and two window bags.
There will also be a communications center with mobile phone, satellite navigation and emergency-call systems.
The car will be called the Doblo Cargo in commercial panel van guise.