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1.3 MULTIJET WHEELCHAIR ACCESIBLE
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Big and tough
Lots for you bucks
Versatile, rugged, unpretentious.
It’s a good thing
No fold-flat row 3
Unsightly, plasticky, slow.
The Doblo is unashamedly van-based but after its 2006 facelift, it looks well compared to its van-based rivals. Sure, it’s awkward and upright, but you have to love that lack of pretence.
There is no ‘performance’ here. The petrol wheezes its way to 100km/h in 17 seconds, while the 1.3 Mutlijet is only 0.6 seconds faster. You’ll get there, but just not in a hurry.
Being van-based, the Doblo isn’t the smoothest machine in the world. There’s a fair bit of body roll and it doesn’t like cornering too hard, nor does it ride with much finesse over rough roads. It’s reasonably easy to keep on course, though, and it can take a beating.
Van-based MPVs are usually cleverly laid out ergonomically. Everything is easy to find and the driving position suits just about everyone, even though there isn’t the broadest range of movements. Visibility is also superb - just look at those mirrors.
The Doblo feels like a van inside, so the plastics are fairly hard and low rent. The ride quality isn’t hectic and the general overall refinement levels are fairly rudimentary, so don’t expect MPV-like comfort in your van-based minibus.
The Doblo fared only so-so in its last NCAP test, as it really wasn’t designed for passengers. There’s twin front airbags and five 3-point seat belts and headrests in the rear, but no EPS, curtain airbags or ISOFIX, and side airbags are optional.
It gets no more practical than a van-based MPV - small but spacious, with the option of a third row of seats for big families on a budget. The rear seats don’t do anything clever, but both side doors slide. Elsewhere, cubby-holes and storage areas abound.
The Doblo is cheap to buy compared to other seven-seater MPVs and it should be cheap to run too, but don’t expect open-armed salesmen come trade-in time. Vans are tough, though, so it should last well if you hang onto it.
The Doblo has electric front windows, remote locking, a CD player, trip computer and foglights as standard, but options are cheap, such as €400 for a set of alloys and €750 for climate control.
Just two engines are offered and neither are up to the job. The 77bhp 1.4 petrol is an asthmatic lump compared to the 85bhp 1.3 diesel, but even with 200Nm, it just has too much work to do.