Sometimes you need a commercial vehicle that can go where the roads run out. For the most extreme jobs, look no further than the IVECO ECODAILY 4x4. Jonathan Crouch tries one.
Ten Second Review
The IVECO ECODAILY 4x4 is a go-anywhere pick-up that will leave a Land Rover Defender trailing in its wake off road. It's about as much fun as you can have on four wheels but it's not cheap. You get what you pay for though.
This is probably what is dubbed a niche vehicle. No, scrub that. The IVECO ECODAILY 4x4 is a vehicle that sits in the centre of a whole Russian doll of niches. Its manufacturer claims that it's a model that will be chosen by people who want more off-road capability than they'd get from something like a normal 4x4 pick up or even a Land Rover but don't want to go the whole hog and run to an expedition vehicle like a Unimog. Therefore, this is about the most extreme off-roader that you'll be able to buy for vaguely sensible money. It's been around for a while, the ECODAILY 4x4, and it's become a bit of a cult favourite amongst not only construction crews but also agricultural workers who need a vehicle that can get the business done whatever the weather and whatever the surface conditions. It's rarely advertised as being about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on, but given one of these, a muddy hillside and a full tank of fuel, it would be rude not to see exactly what it's capable of.
It's capable of quite a lot as it turns out, but then one look at the ECODAILY 4x4 more than hints at that. There's a 3.0-litre 170PS twin turbodiesel under the bonnet and its full 400Nm of torque is available from just 1,250rpm, or little more than tickover. You've got up to 300mm of ground clearance, an incredible 51 degree approach angle at the front end, a 149 degree breakover angle and a 33 degree departure angle. It'll climb 45 degree slopes, traverse 40 degree side slopes and ford 660mm deep water. It'll basically go almost anywhere, although at 2016mm in width, you might get a little pinched in tight spots. By contrast a Land Rover Defender will wade to 500mm, side hill to 35 degrees and has a 49 degree approach angle. Yes, the IVECO feels bouncy on the road but that's hardly its home environment. Its all wheel drive system is split 32 per cent to the front and 68 to the rear. You get a six-speed gearbox with a central transfer box with two reduction stages giving a total of 24 gears, 12 for road and track use and 12 for extreme off road use. There are front, central and rear differential locks, all controlled electronically. It's an incredible piece of kit and completely unstoppable in any of the terrain we could find.
Design and Build
IVECO offer the ECODAILY 4x4 in single cab guise as well but for our test, we opted for the crew cab configuration with its additional row of seats. You can just about squeeze four in the back along with two up front and build quality is typically IVECO, which means tough mechanicals and an interior that's not going to give Audi's designers sleepless nights. Still, that's probably just as well given the sort of terrain this vehicle will be used in. You wouldn't want to lose sleep over getting mud on a plush interior and everything inside the ECODAILY is easy to wipe clean without too much worry. There's plenty of internal storage areas and ergonomics are actually pretty good, with a high-mounted central gear selector and floor-mounted range selector levers. The switches for the three differential locks and the transfer box are easy to get at if you find yourself in a fix.
Market and Model
The long wheelbase version we tested priced up at around £47,000 but a short wheelbase 3.5 tonne variant is also available, priced at just over the £40,000 mark. Standard IVECO ECODAILY 4x4 interior equipment runs to a couple of cup holders, a bottle holder, a cooled compartment, under-seat storage and a four-speed fan. Yes, there's also an RDS stereo radio and central locking, but when a manufacturer bothers to start mentioning features like 'a floor mat' and 'a rear door with sliding window' on the specification sheet, you know that you're in for something fairly Spartan. Safety kit is quoted simply as 'full IR seatbelts and seat headrests'. Pretty unspectacular stuff, I'm sure you'll agree, and when you're paying over £40,000, it seems as if you could expect more. Still, the budget has been blown on the stuff that really matters; the hardcore mechanicals. There's quite an extensive options list should you wish to make the ECODAILY 4x4 a bit plusher though. Here, you can choose things like air conditioning, an alarm, an engine water heater, a navigator radio, a sump guard, a vertical exhaust pipe, heated seats and a pollen filter. You can even go all Bodie and Doyle and specify PVC trim.
Practicalities and Costs
The ECODAILY 4x4 is available in two versions, offering gross vehicle weights of 3.5 and 5.5 tons in short wheelbase (3050mm) and long wheelbase (3400mm) configurations. Maximum body and payload allowances are 1010kg for the 3.5 tonne version and 2985kg for the 5.5 tonne model. Load volume capacity is of course entirely dependent on body style - in other words the specification of the body the customer has built. You get a 90-litre fuel tank and as with any vehicle of this type, your fuel economy is going to vary significantly depending on your tyre choice, what body the vehicle is fitted with and so on.
The IVECO ECODAILY 4x4 is, in its own way, as focused a vehicle as something like a Porsche 911 GT3 is - probably more. It's a genuinely impressive transformation, sharing only the cab and the power unit with its two-wheel drive siblings. Genuine high-performance off-road trucks are few and far between and this IVECO is one of the best. No matter how capable you think it's going to be, to see one driven to the limit of its capabilities will leave you shaking your head in disbelief. So if you work in construction and need a vehicle that can negotiate the worst sites or you're into agriculture or forestry and need to get anywhere anytime, here's your best road-legal choice, short of a tractor or Unimog. It's not cheap but judged in terms of the amount of fun it delivers, the IVECO ECODAILY 4x4 crew cab is brilliant value.