Public utility and construction company fleets have a need for an off-roader that will carry more than an all-wheel drive pick-up and can get to locations that a low-rise 4×4 van may struggle to reach. It is a niche that Iveco is busy filling with the recently-launched high-rise 4×4 version of the latest Daily.
On sale as a chassis cab and as a crew cab at either 3.5 or 5.5 tonnes, it comes with front and rear ground clearance of 255mm when fully-laden. Wading depth is 660mm.
Two floor-mounted levers allow you to engage the transfer box and give you access to 24 high- and low-ratio and crawler gears, with the first six high-ratio gears available for on-road driving. Centre, front and rear differential locks are included in the deal and the transfer box and gearbox offer a variety of different power take-off options.
Power comes courtesy of a Euro 6, AdBlue-dependent, 172PS 3.0-litre diesel with up to 400Nm of torque on tap. A reinforced chassis frame is fitted and a three-piece steel front bumper means that if just one of the sections is seriously damaged then there is no need to replace the lot.
Two wheelbases are available – 3,050mm or 3,400mm – but the crew cab is not marketed with the shorter one.
We tested a 3,050mm-wheelbase 5.5-tonne 55S17W single-cab fitted with a Scattolini dropside body containing a 1,000kg load over the highly demanding, four-wheel drive course at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. Having used the transfer box lever and dropped down to a lower set of ratios, most of it was tackled in either 13th or 14th gear.
The off-roading Daily surged up steep, muddy ascents and down the subsequent descents without problems. Sandy inclines and declines were shrugged off just as successfully as was a row of transverse concrete ridges.
A section of angled concrete tipped the Iveco at an angle of 25 degrees but it hung on doggedly. It forded a lake then went into a narrow concrete channel with water at the bottom and up the other side without a moment’s hesitation.
A little more engine retardation would have been useful on one or two occasions but its absence failed to halt progress. The entire route was completed without the need to press the buttons on the dashboard to engage diff locks and the trip was performed on standard on/off-road tyres.
The only button that had to be pressed was the one that kills the engine fan to prevent it being damaged when going through deep water.
The 4×4’s driving position is much higher than that of the standard Daily – a real boon when off-road – making it easier to spot potential obstacles to your progress and avoid them.
On ordinary roads, the Daily delivers a firm ride although the driver is insulated from the worst bumps and thumps by a mechanically-suspended seat. Throwing the Iveco hard into bends is inadvisable given its high centre of gravity.
All the torque on tap low-down and across a wide plateau means the Daily can shoulder heavy loads and lug them up a steep hill without breathing hard. It is also more than capable of hauling a braked trailer grossing at up to 3.5 tonnes.
The Daily has few, if any, direct rivals. Mercedes-Benz’s iconic Unimog is more capable but is £15,000-£20,000 more expensive. Mercedes-Benz’s 4×4 Sprinter and Ford’s 4×4 Transit are less capable, but a lot cheaper.