Publication date: 12 June 2024
Fiat e-Scudo
First impression

Fiat e-Scudo

United we are strong

First impression - Stellantis, the parent company of Fiat, Peugeot, Vauxhall and Citro├źn, has modernised all its commercial vehicles for model year 2024. As these car brands work together, their commercial vehicles are identical under the skin. The difference is in the presentation. For instance, Fiat states that Italian commercial vehicles are rational and emotional at the same time. And Fiat proudly reports that it is the market leader in Italy. Nice words, but how does that translate into practice? Time for a test drive with the revamped Fiat e-Scudo.

The Fiat Scudo, Peugeot Expert, Vauxhall Vivaro and Citroën Dispatch are Stellantis' medium-sized vans. They are available in a variety of lengths and heights, as well as with single or double cabs. The Fiat Scudo stands out with a unique front that has been completely redesigned for the 2024 model year. The "smile" of yesteryear has been exchanged for clean, straight lines and a more confident look. Thanks to a visual connection between the headlights, the Scudo appears wider than before.

Fiat e-Scudo

In the cabin, the straight lines return, even in the heart of the steering wheel. The cabin features all the standard storage compartments, but features little innovation. The usual storage compartment on top of the dashboard is remarkably large, as it even fits a 12-inch laptop!

Driver and passenger space is no more than average for a van like this. The seats are also average in size and comfort. The back of the middle seat folds down and can then be used as a table. Two missed opportunities: there is no place for charging cables and despite a lot of empty space under the bonnet, no extra storage ("frunk") has been created here.

Fiat e-Scudo
Fiat e-Scudo

Equipment

The reason for all the innovations is the European Union's obligation to equip all cars from 2024 with safety features that penalise any carelessness on the part of the driver. The Scudo, too, therefore watches along with the driver and warns when exceeding the speed limit or crossing the lines on the road surface without indicating direction. As with other makes, many unjustified warnings also sound, for example because it reads a traffic sign for a parallel road or exit.

Because a glass interior mirror is useless due to the partition and blinded rear doors, Fiat provides a digital one. This will offer an additional function from 2024: with "Dynamic Surround View", images from a (wide-angle) camera under the right mirror are displayed in the digital interior mirror. This makes manoeuvring and turning right in heavy traffic easier and safer. While the mandatory safety features have been perceived as irritating and unnecessary, the optional digital mirror should actually be mandatory as far as Autozine is concerned!

Because Fiat had to overhaul the electronics to implement all the safety systems, the manufacturer continued and also revamped the infotainment system. This audio, communication and navigation system is now of the latest generation, with internet connectivity and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (via USB-C on the dashboard). Again, Fiat, Peugeot, Citroën and Vauxhall use the same system under the skin, but opt for their own design. Fiat's approach is special, as there are hardly any buttons in sight! Therefore, it seems like the options are limited. However, Fiat opts for "swiping" to switch from one set of functions to another. This takes some getting used to, but does provide a better overview as there are fewer controls in view at the same time. The audio system and on-board computer are controlled by buttons on the steering wheel.

Fiat e-Scudo

Cargo space

As indicated earlier, the Scudo's layout is conventional and so is its cargo space. Its capacity is of average size (5.3 m3 for the demo). Because Fiat opts for front-wheel drive, all the technology is found under the bonnet and the loading floor is low. Moreover, the cargo space is therefore the same size regardless of the chosen powertrain (diesel or electric). The test car is fitted with two sliding doors on the side and pivoting doors at the rear.

Electric car

The Scudo is available with diesel and electric engines. As car manufacturers are no longer investing in combustion engines, the diesel engine has not been updated for model year 2024. The electric powertrain is now available with a 75 kWh battery. This gives the e-Scudo a theoretical range of 329 km, which is much more than the 231 km of previous the 50 kWh version. During the test under favourable weather conditions with 250 kg of cargo on board, the range was 330 km. The test consumption was 24.4 kWh per 100 km, which is slightly on the high side (a much larger e-Ducato consumed 29 kWh per 100 km with much more cargo on board).

Fiat e-Scudo

The performance of the 136 hp / 260 Nm electric motor is more than adequate, even with cargo on board. The e-Scudo is not significantly stronger or faster than the diesel, but the ease and quietness with which the electric van performs is a big difference. Those who have driven an electric van once never want to go back to a pounding diesel! Moreover, an electric car generally has only one gear and thus shifting is not necessary. The e-Scudo has no more sound insulation than the Scudo diesel, the noise of the tyres and driving wind as well as the reverberation from the cargo space are therefore equally prominent.

The e-Scudo can charge at a public charging point, such as can be installed at home or at the office, at a rate of up to 11 kW. Full charging then theoretically takes 7 hours. Fast charging can be done at up to 100 kW under ideal conditions, which is very fast for a van. Full charging can theoretically be done in less than an hour at a fast charger. Equally important: with controls behind the steering wheel, the driver can control how much the e-Scudo regenerates when releasing the throttle. Those who make clever use of this can save a lot of energy.

Handling

The Scudo's handling is average. The manufacturer takes into account varying cargo and has found a fair compromise between light and heavy cargo, comfort and dynamics. A major advantage of the e-Scudo is that the batteries are built centrally in the floor, so the centre of gravity is low and central. The e-Scudo is therefore stable and safe.

Fiat e-Scudo

Conclusion

Fiat collaborates with Peugeot, Vauxhall and Citroën. The commercial vehicles offered by the brands are technically identical, which is why the respective brands look for the differences in presentation. This is in design (front, rims, paint colour) and marketing. Fiat therefore comes up with statements like "our commercial vehicles have a double soul, they are rational and emotional" and "Fiat commercial vehicles do not stand for cars, but for solutions". In practice, however, there is no sign of this. The vans have the same driving characteristics, the same equipment and the same space. Choosing one brand or another will therefore mainly have to do with proximity to a dealership and/or experience with a particular brand.

At the same time, the cooperation of the various brands is also their strength. As the various brands develop a product together, they share their expertise and costs can be spread over a larger number of products. The Fiat Scudo, and thus also the Peugeot Expert, Citroën Dispatch and Vauxhall Vivaro, are fine vans that also keep up with the times. That is what this test drive proves: united we are strong!

plus
  • Spacious and functional
  • Modern electric drive train with long range
minus
  • Little distinctiveness compared to stablemates
  • Meddlesome and annoying safety features (required by law)