Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Fiat Ducato
Double glazing
September 2005

WHEN it comes to motoring terminology for blokes, "two-seater" conjures up images of something you would drive with a leggy blonde in the passenger seat with the top down (on the car) on a perfect Queensland winter`s day through the rolling hills.

Do you reckon women have a dream of being in the passenger seat of a commercial van with a bloke named Robbo, sporting a Jackie Howe singlet, dropping off a half a pallet of VB cartons to the local pub?

Probably not a mainstream fantasy. But if there is a certain type of woman out there looking for such a dreamboat, you need to look at Fiat`s Ducato as your two-seater of choice.

The Ducato comes in a good range of cab and chassis combos, including an optional middle seat, so you can actually squeeze more than two in ... girls, please, get your minds out of the gutter.

My brother and I "tested" the Ducato Maxi "Glazed Van" by taking it to the Country Music Muster at Amamoor and sleeping in it, after dropping off a barbecue at my in-laws place in Gympie on the way through.

Glazed means the van had metre-high glass around the payload area on all sides. It also correctly describes how you wake up at the Muster each day, especially when you have metre high glass surrounding you on all sides.

The reason for the glass is that this model is used for conversion to buses and motorhomes.

In the payload stakes, the Ducato`s seriously square stature offers the maximum usable area, and there are a couple of options for roof height to ensure you meet your exact carrying needs, up to 1510kg.

The numerous tie-down hooks keep cargo secure while the cabin is secured with a Fiat CODE key with immobiliser and associated central locking function.

Safety features include twin airbags, ABS with EBD. Remote central locking, air conditioning and electric windows and mirrors are standard.

Ladies, if you want to have a little Robbo junior, you might want to advise Robbo Snr to be careful of the handbrake.

Sliding out of the driver`s seat the handbrake, when pulled on, is in perfect position to damage the family jewels. Like poor bloody truck drivers don`t have enough to worry about. Fuel companies are doing enough to hit them in the groin several times a week without that. On that note though, the Ducato chews just under 10l/100km, fairly impressive for a vehicle of this size.

Another issue is that it is a long, long way over to reach the radio/CD, which also resets the volume to low every time you turn the ignition off.

There is a helpful adjustment mechanism on the headlights, ideal for when the payload alters the height of the lights. Suspension is independent MacPherson strut coil front and rigid, live axle, leaf rear. Turning circle is 13.7m.

A full bonnet with the engine out-front means the Ducato offers the occupants greater distance from frontal impact as well as improved access to the engine for routine servicing. Service intervals are 30,000km.

The rear bumper incorporates a bigger step than previous Ducato models and the loading height is 540mm.

There are also optional reversing sensors, beeping to warn the driver that an obstacle is close, making tight city loading zones a breeze. There are side rubbing strips are standard all round as well.

The sliding kerb-side door is the full height of the van, while the two rear barn doors give an aperture of 1760mm high x 1562mm wide, opening to 90, 180 or 270 degrees.

Towing capacity is 2000 kg with brakes or 750kg without and all variants come with 3yr/180,000km roadside assist.

So, for the Aussie bloke looking to do some serious delivery, or the Aussie sheila with a passion for blokes that do some serious delivery, the Ducato makes a world of sense. Just be careful of the handbrake.


SEATS: 2 or 3

ENGINE: Common rail 2.8-litre turbo four-cylinder diesel

POWER: 94kW at 3600rpm

TORQUE: 300Nm at 1800rpm

TRANSMISSION: Five-speed manual, front wheel drive

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 9.57 l/100km; 80 litre tank

PROS: Pitch a tent in the rear; responsive engine; not exactly a chick magnet

CONS: Radio too far away from driver; handbrake position hurts, a lot

BOTTOM LINE: From $39,975