Driven: Fiat Talento

The ever-changing landscape of manufacturer ownership means that Fiat is now owned by Stellantis, the company behind Peugeot and Citroen. That makes the Talento something of an oddball, as it’s built around the Trafic van from rivals Renault.

The Trafic has been around in its current form since 2014, with the Talento arriving a little later, but the French firm has given notice that it will stop supplying Fiat with the light commercial vehicle, although there’s no endpoint announced just yet.

Fortunately, Stellantis has the excellent Peugeot Expert available, and it hasn’t been afraid to adorn that with other badges – you can buy that as a Vauxhall Vivaro, Citroen Dispatch or Toyota Proace.

Fiat Talento: Exterior

This is badge engineering at its finest, as the only physical differences between this Fiat-badged model and the Renault Trafic upon which it’s based come down to the front grille and headlights, and the badges dotted around the van.

The front end treatment is impressive, though, with the Talento gaining a strong identity that looks smart, with an eye-grabbing premium style. Really; this Talento got more glances from pedestrians than other vehicles costing many times as much. Lustrous silver paintwork helped, but there is a sense of style about the Fiat that stands out, without resorting to an overly aggressive stance.

Beyond that, it’s all rather conventional. Creases run along the side of the body, sweeping down from the windscreen area and connecting to the back of the van. Double doors have a large flat, slightly shield-shaped area for signwriting, although the door handle, large Fiat badge and lengthy italicised Talento logo don’t line up in any direction.

Fiat Talento short wheelbase model pictured.
Fiat Talento: Interior

The Talento has been given a surprisingly attractive cab, but it can’t match the car-like interior you’ll find in the Peugeot-based rivals. The plastics are tough and feel well screwed together, and most things are chunky and strong.

The grey plastic is lifted a little with some piano-black high-gloss plastic around the infotainment centre and air vents, but it’s undone by oddly contrasting sections of brown plastic dotted around the dashboard and door panels.

Still, it’s not an unattractive area to spend the day, even if it stops short of feeling like a premium cabin. It’s helped by an optional 7.0-inch infotainment system with DAB Radio that works reasonably well, but it has both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in place, so you can rely on systems that you know well from your phone.

Manual air conditioning is included on this SX specification model, but it’s not long on creature comforts. The seats are covered in hard-wearing cloth, and all of the plastics are suitably wipe clean, while a £990 optional Tecnico pack adds that infotainment centre, navigation, cruise control, a styling pack, front fog and automatic headlights.

Storage space is plentiful – Fiat claims there’s 90 litres of storage hidden away in the cabin – with a cubby perfect for paperwork on top of the dashboard, a couple of glove box options and some little storage places here and there. Pull up the passenger seat base and a large ‘boot’ becomes available. Crucially, anything in here is entirely hidden from view.

Fiat Talento interior
Fiat Talento: On the Road

The 2.0-litre diesel engine under the stubby bonnet produces 120hp and 320Nmof torque, which is enough to leave the Talento feeling reasonably zesty when empty. It’s eager to get off the line and pulls nicely through the revs before fading rapidly as you reach the top of the range.

If that’s not enough, engine options run from this 120hp model to a 170hp unit, with a 145hp option in the middle.

Changing gears is a somewhat slack affair, but the gear change is nicely weighted, if not very precise. The same can’t be said about the steering, which is surprisingly engaging; there’s a decent amount of heft to it, making it easy to be precise along country roads.

Fiat Talento wide angle mirror
Fiat Talento wide angle mirror provides improved visibility.

It’s there that the Talento excels. The ride quality is impressively smooth, body roll is minimal, and the handling is precise and predictable. It’s also light enough in town, and easy to manoeuvre thanks to reversing sensors, decent mirrors and good visibility – helped, not least, by the seat being a good 200mm higher than many of its rivals.

This is improved by a wide-angle mirror built into the passenger sun visor. Flip this down and you get a wide view through the passenger window, revealing vehicles, obstacles or pedestrians that would otherwise be in your blind spot. It’s an impressive, and incredibly simple, bit of kit.

Fiat promises 37.7mpg from the van, and that seems to be reasonable. It’s certainly better on a long run than it is in urban areas, the former making 40+ mpg easy to achieve, while the latter can see it drop to the low 20s. Overall, our time with the van saw it return 32.8mpg.

Fiat Talento
Fiat Talento: Payload and Towing

This long-wheelbase Fiat Talento allows for a sizable load area. Items just under three metres long can be placed inside, with a maximum load width of 1,662mm. That makes for a total capacity of 6.0 cubic metres on this low roof model. The shorter wheelbase model doesn’t sacrifice much, though, still swallowing 5.2 cubic metres of cargo. Opt for the high roof model, available only with a long wheelbase, and the figure rises to 8.6m3. That’s enough for three euro pallets, with a maximum payload of 1,266kg – around 100kg lower than some rivals.

Entry to the load bay is easy. Twin doors at the rear swing open to 255 degrees, leaving a wide access point. The left-hand door can be locked into position, even with the right door left open, allowing for long loads to hang out of the back while still showing the required light and number plate. A floor height of just 552mm makes manual loading and unloading easier, too.

The sliding door on the left-hand side is over a metre wide, providing great access to the cargo area, although it’s not quite enough to get one of those three euro pallets through. It’s light and glides effortlessly to the side, and doesn’t require too much of a bang to close it securely.

Every door is connected to the central locking system and can be locked or unlocked from the cabin or by the remote key. The doors lock automatically when moving, even after seemingly the shortest, slowest manoeuvre. This could be a pleasing security feature or a frequent annoyance, depending on your usage.

Our test vehicle was clad in optional resin-coated plywood, protecting the floor and sidewalls and allowing for attachment of light racking. It also had plenty of lashing points inside to secure your load to.

All Talento models have a towing capacity of 2,000kg.

Kerb weight (kg)1,784Load bay length (mm)2,937
Gross vehicle weight (MAM) (kg)4,250Load bay width (mm)1,662
Payload (kg)1,266Load bay height (mm)1,387
Gross vehicle mass (kg)3,050Load bay capacity (m3)6.0
Towing capacity braked (kg)2,000Towing capacity unbrakedN/A
Fiat Talento cargo area
Fiat Talento: Verdict

The Fiat Talento is something of a forgotten model, but that’s not a reflection of its abilities. As with the Renault Trafic, it’s an impressively accommodating van, with a large load area, comfortable cabin and impressive driving dynamics.

The cabin is a little utilitarian compared to some of its rivals, many of which offer a more car-like ambience, and standard equipment levels at the lower end of the range are a tad stingy – and that includes this SX trim test van. The ergonomics and capabilities are no worse though, and there’s plenty of equipment on more expensive trim levels.

It’s those higher-spec models that make more sense to all but the most hard-nosed fleet manager. Equipment levels are improved dramatically, at a lower cost than adding options to the SX model, and you’ll get more of your money back come resale which will keep lease rates more competitive.

Running costs should also be reasonable, with good fuel economy, a three-year or 100,000-mile warranty, and service intervals set at 25,000 miles or every two years. Residual values do suffer a little though, so check monthly lease costs before committing.

Model Tested: Fiat Talento SX LWB 12 2.0 Ecojet 120 HP

OTR price£32,228CV OTR price£27,029
Reclaimable VAT£5,179CV model price range£24,949 – £35,249

Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.