By on November 17, 2009

Doblo down...Automotive News [sub] reports that the newest addition to Chrysler’s new Ram brand will be the Fiat Dobló, a compact van in the style of Ford’s Transit Connect. The latest generation Dobló has been previewed, and will go on sale in Europe early next year. The Rambló will hit the US market in 2012, and like the Transit Connect, it will be built in Turkey and imported. Like Ford’s Turkish hauler, the Dobló will likely be imported as a passenger vehicle to avoid the infamous “chicken tax” and will be converted for commercial use upon arrival. European versions get a number of diesel and gas engine options (with CNG and electric options planned), but there’s no word on what choices the US market will be given. Meanwhile, how big of a crosshair grille will fit on that thing? Or, to put it differently, how will this Euro-derived efficiency-oriented urban hauler jive with the Ram brand’s overbearingly bro-magnon branding?

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31 Comments on “Fiat Doblo: My Tank Is Full...”


  • avatar
    superbadd75

    Looks neat, but how’s it going to fill the shoes of the now missing HUGE Sprinter? Also, I’ve seen several Transit Connects on the streets around here, any idea how they’re doing overall so far? It seems like a right size vehicle for small businesses that need to carry a few things, but might be out of place for heavier work like a plumber’s van. Florists probably dig them pretty well though.

  • avatar

    Take the entire oval above the number plate and you’ll have a grand crosshair. Doblo looks like a machine intended not to coddle the ego, but to do actual work. That’s the new message.

  • avatar

    I like it. I wonder if it’ll be possible to re-content one as a passenger vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Via Nocturna

      +1
       
      I’d love to see a four-door version with a passenger-grade interior – like an Italian take on the xB or Cube; Ford of Europe already does it with the Tourneo. I won’t hold my breath, though.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Assuming that they process vehicles the same as the Transit Connect, it will come into the US with seats and windows. If a customer wants a passenger version they’ll just leave the seats and windows alone.

      • 0 avatar
        Via Nocturna

        If Fiat’s returning to the US, why couldn’t they just sell it as a Fiat, though? As Edward mentioned, a small European cargo van doesn’t exactly jive with Ram’s image. And I’d much rather have it the way it looks now: tasteful, good-looking, and unmolested by crosshair grilles and feeble attempts at macho-man posturing.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Strap in that idiotic turbo charged 2.4 engine from the Caliber SRT4 and you’ll have yourself a bit of a cult vehicle. Imagine that amount of power with that little weight…. Yeah I know I’m dreaming, but it felt good for 5 minutes.

  • avatar
    turbobeetle

    There are pictures of this same car as a 4 door on the internet, just have to google it, the 4 door is a dark raspberry-brown color. Personally I think the 4 door version don’t come close to the cool factor as the red one shown here.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    I would say that the Doblo is far more attractive than the Transit Connect, but that’s one of those subjective ratings.

    I would say that the overwhelming majority of US tradespeople would be able to do their job just fine out of either. Why? Because most of the rest of the world can.

    I always laugh at the argument that somehow one ‘needs’ a 400+ HP pickup to haul a coupla hundred gallons of paint, or a coupla dozen sheets of 4×8 ply. 

    Funny, the country got built just fine with dumptrucks having less HP/TQ than a Honda Accord.  

    • 0 avatar
      dmrdano

      I worked for years as a remodeler and tile setter out of a ’77 Impala sedan.  Traded down to a Ranger.  But I will tell you that a full-size pickup or van for a carpenter, plumber or painter is awfully nice, almost necessary.  Their costs increased dramatically when pickups and vans got popular as passenger vehicles (late ’70s and on).

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    I would say that the Doblo is far more attractive than the Transit Connect, but that’s one of those subjective ratings.

    I would say that the overwhelming majority of US tradespeople would be able to do their job just fine out of either. Why? Because most of the rest of the world can.

    I always laugh at the argument that somehow one ‘needs’ a 400+ HP pickup to haul a coupla hundred gallons of paint, or a coupla dozen sheets of 4×8 ply. 

    Funny, the country got built just fine with dumptrucks having less HP/TQ than a Honda Accord.  

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    TONS of Transit Connects in Maine now – starting to see them all over the place. The local Ford dealer must have 15 on the lot – they do a huge commercial business. Pretty much the perfect size for most tradesmen, my furnace fixer bought one. Loves it, gets 2X+ the gas mileage of the Ford Van he replaced. And it will be a whole lot better in snow.

    Assume the FIAT is FWD as well?

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Looks neat, kinda like a Kia Soul on steroids. There is definitely a commercial market for this and the Transit. Probably a passenger market for both as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Agreed. We’re looking for a family truckster right now and to me the Transit Connect would be the anti-minivan choice if it came with the car seat anchors and perhaps a stick?

      • 0 avatar

        I was recently in the market for a new minivan and I had the same idea. I went to the local Ford dealer to see the Transit Connect and I also picked up a brochure. Unfortunately the Transit Connect is only available as a cargo van. The Wagon model has windows in the rear doors and second row of forward folding seats, but this is strictly a commercial vehicle and not suitable for use as a family car. There are no rear air bags or rear side impact protection beams. There are no child seat anchors. And the interior is finished to cargo van specifications with painted metal sides and rubber mats on the floors.

        I loved the Transit Connect and if I needed a small delivery van this would definitely get my consideration. What I need is a family minivan so I bought a 2010 Honda Odyssey instead.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Audi called, they want their grill back.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    Just about all of the original work vans — VW Transporter in work trim, Corvan/Greenbrier, Ford Econoline, and first generation front engine Chevy Van — were based on compact car platforms (Beetle, Corvair, Falcon, Nova).  Ford and GM didn’t move them up to truck platforms until the early 70′s.  The Transit Connect and the Doblo mark a return to the original concept.  Yes, shrinking the van was kinda/sorta attempted already, with the Aerostar and Astro, but they came off as half-hearted efforts.

    • 0 avatar
      dmrdano

      I owned a ’67 Chevy van until just about a year ago, and I can assure you that it never was based on a car platform.  It had a dropped straight front axel, truck rims, truck brakes, and a full frame.  It shared a 250-six banger with the cars, but that’s about it.  It was truck from the start.  My ’63 parts van was virtually identical.  I used many parts off pickups in my restoration, but not even window cranks were the same as the cars.  Most of these early vans were used by 1) Ma Bell, 2) Sears and Roebuck, 3) tradesmen, and 4) the US military for hauling stuff around the base.  Loved it.  Had to sell it before my son got his DL because they were a bit dangerous to drive and not a good starter vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        John Horner

        MadHungarian was talking about the Chevrolet Greenbrier (Corvair based) which was introduced in 1961 and was indeed GM’s first van. It was replaced with the more conventional Chevy Van in 1964, which van borrowed most heavily from the Chevy II parts bin. Wikipedia has a good page on the history of the Chevy vans.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Van#First_generation_.281964-1966.29
         

        • 0 avatar
          dmrdano

          MadHung referred to the “first generation front engine Chevy Van.”  He spoke of the Greenbrier separately.  The only first gen with the engine in the front was the HandiVan.  My parts van title said it was a ’63, so I will stand on that.  The ’67 had car engine and transmission, as did the comparable year pickups.  Everything else was all truck including leaf springs, brakes, master cylinder, rear turn signals, headlights, differential, front axel, steering box, radiator, and wheels.  Since there was no interior to speak of, I’m not sure how much more was left to borrow from the Chevy II.  I also had a Greenbrier sitting in the weeds (not sure what year) and I used the front and rear bumpers off it, as they really fit the ’67 van better than the originals, as well as the door and window cranks.  I did not use it for anything else.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I have never seen a Transit on the road. Ever. I live in Metro Detroit. I can’t imagine that anyone would buy one when they can get a full size vehicle around here for the same price.
    As for this thing…I don’t see it doing much. Unless they almost give them away, or there is a sudden long lasting fuel price increase.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      It’s really all about what you need to do with it.  I pitched a Transit Connect to a guy who does a thriving beverage delivery service, and while he liked the idea of getting better gas mileage, when he worked out the numbers, it didn’t make sense for him because of the cargo space he’d lose vs. his extended length E350, and having to make multiple runs and stops by his warehouse through the course of a day.
       
      On the other hand, we’ve sold a bunch to local electricians, plumbers, and general handymen who can fit everything they need for a day’s work into the back, and are spending less than half as much as they used to on gas, which makes a big difference in the bottom line for any business.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I don’t have much experience with the Astro vans, but the Aerostar and Caravan cargo models were retrofitted back from a vehicle primarily designed for passenger duty, so they never really had that commercial grade feel or capability.
     
    The great thing about the Transit Connect (from a business point of view) is that it was designed from the ground up as a commercial vehicle – durable materieals inside, lots of bumpers to protect the doors on the outside, rear leaf springs for a big payload, and lots of upfit options to turn it into anything from a catering van to a mobile locksmith’s station.
     
    The Doblo looks cool, and I hop dodge doesn’t muss to much with the design.  It would be interesting to see passenger variants, but with Ford bringing over the C-Max (or is it S-Max?) and Fiat likely having a similar Euro MPV to give to Chrysler, I doubt we will see it.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Don’t forget, one of the characteristics which reduced the market acceptance of the Aerostar was its Ranger pick-up like chassis (and ride!)

      Ford has announced they will produce the Focus-based C-max (rather than the Mondeo-based S-Max) for (in?) the US.

  • avatar
    Kyle Schellenberg

    The front end treatment actually seems similar to the current trend on Mazdas.

  • avatar
    anitacuellar

    I think the Fiat Doblo cargo is a good choice for small businesses, mainly because it is low in fuel consumption, which to be honest, with the increase in fuel prices, I think anything that can be done to save my money  helps.

  • avatar
    Jessy718

    You are right. It’s a great commercial van. My husband just bought a Fiat Doblo recently. The car has a good load capacity and the van’s engine is fuel efficient. I like that!


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