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BUYERS GUIDE - HEAVY DUTY

IVECO DAILY 4X4
This semi-bonnetted 4WD light truck was more refined in 2018 and a greatly expanded range was released in late 2019.

Following several months of testing and ADR homologation the Iveco Daily 4×4 range was released in 2013. Brilliant off road credentials and more than twice the payload of a ute  ensured good business for this capable machine. Refinements were added in mid-2016 and in 2018 and a greatly expanded range was announced in late 2019.

There are plenty of people who want more payload than a 4WD ute offers, but don’t want a forward control truck, such as a Fuso Canter, Hino 817 4×4, Isuzu NLS or NPS 4×4.

The alternative until 2013 was limited to the semi-bonnetted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4WD van and cab/chassis, but the Sprinter’s basic 4WD system is without proper low-range gearing. No diff locks and limited ground clearance also make it marginal for serious off-road work. Enter the Iveco Daily 4×4.

The 2013 Iveco Daily 4×4 wasn’t the first off-road derivative of the 4×2 Daily. The original 4×4 van and cab/chassis version was available in the second generation Daily, from 1995 and some of these made their way to Australia. This model was produced by specialist off-road vehicle  company SCAM Srl, located in Varese, Italy, using the 4×2 Daily as a base.

I remember testing a Daily 75PC 4×4 Britz campervan version and, while being impressed with its excellent off-road ability, I understood why Britz abandoned the marque soon after: final drive ratios more suited to pushing a mini-snow-plough blade around European ski resorts meant very high engine revs at highway speeds and most of these ‘renters’ blew up.

There are still a few of them around: an ex-Britz campervan was spotted on the Pacific Highway in mid-2018 and there is still a cab/chassis working for the local council at Nukurr in Arnhem Land.

Iveco rethought the Daily 4×4 for some time and came up with a new concept in 2011. The new-design Iveco Daily 4×4 range was released in 2013.

 

Iveco Daily post-2013

Following several months of testing and ADR homologation the Australian Iveco Daily 4WD range was made available. It had twice the payload of a 4×4 ute and better comfort and off-road ability than Japanese 4×4 light trucks.

The 4×4 light truck market is dominated by Japanese Isuzu NPS, Hino 817 and Fuso Canter, but the Iveco Daily 4×4 made inroads since its 2013 release. The Daily 4×4 appealed to buyers who wanted ute-like wheel track, single tyres front and rear and a semi-forward-control configuration.

Mercedes-Benz’ Sprinter 4×4 should also be a serious contender in this market, but M-B Australia offers only basic 4×4 equipment – no deep-reduction gearing or across-axle diff locks that other overseas markets get – so it’s not considered by many buyers.

Launched in Australia in 2013 and based on the award-winning Daily 4×2 light truck range, the 4×4 version was built by SCAM, using a three-speed transfer box, taper-leaf springs and front and rear live axles fitted with across-axle diff locks to upgrade the Daily’s 4×2 configuration, using its cab, highly turbocharged diesel engine, six-speed main transmission and ladder-frame chassis.

For 2017 the Daily 4×4 configuration was unchanged, but the new model was more civilised. The cab exterior and interior were noticeably different.

 

Bush-ready powertrain

The main transmission operated in either direct-drive (1.0:1.0) or under-drive, via a lever that selected a 1:1.24 reduction. When driving with the transfer case in high range the truck operated with highway gearing that dropped cruising revs at 110km/h to a shade over 2500rpm. In this mode, fuel consumption worked out around 11.5-13.5L/100km, when we tested a part-loaded 2013 model.

It’s as well that the fuel consumption was good, because the standard fuel tank capacity was only 90 litres: Iveco needed an auxiliary tank for this truck.

In under-drive the transmission was set up for dirt-road and track driving, with a lower-speed gearset. For example, in under-drive the road speed at 2500rpm was only 90km/h. The under-drive-direct shift could be done with the vehicle moving.

For serious off-road work the vehicle operated in deep-reduction low range, but needed to be stopped before the low-range lever was moved. As with high-range the transmission could operate in under-drive or direct in low range and the reduction ratios were 1:3.87 and 1:3.12, respectively.

In low-low the overall reduction was a class leading 100:1! Typical 4WD ute low-range reduction is in the 40:1 to 70:1 region.

Back in the olden days a truck would be given deep-reduction gearing to mask a lack of torque, but not in the case of the Iveco Daily 4×4. Power came from a three-litre diesel four with two turbochargers operating in series and helping the engine punch out 125kW (170hp) at 3000-35000rpm, with peak torque of 400Nm in the most-used 1250-3000rpm band.

The post-2017 engine variants were Euro 6 complaint, although there’s no legal need in Australia for that level of emissions control. The Daily engine had a 25-litre AdBlue tank for its selective catalytic reduction (SCR) emissions control system.

With series turbocharging a three-litre engine obviously could produce more than 430Nm, but the torque curve was capped to deliver peak torque across a very wide rev band – ideal for an off-road machine, where the driver doesn’t want a sudden, traction-busting wallop of torque as engine revs change.

Another, mechanical, reason for limiting the peak torque was the Daily 4×4’s considerable gearing reduction. With more engine torque the driveline and axles would have to be made larger – heavier – and that’s not in the interests of keeping tare weight to minimum.

Speaking of weights, the Daily 4×4 single-cab/chassis model tipped the scales at 2.7 tonnes – about the same weight as a LandCruiser 200 Series station wagon!

 

Improved ergonomics

The post-2013 Iveco Daily 4×4 came as a two- or three-seat short cab or a six- or seven-seat crew cab and all outboard seating positions had lap-sash seat belts. The standard driver’s seat in both models was an ISRI air-suspended and heated chair and the standard passenger seat was a two-place bench. However, an air suspended, heated single-passenger seat was optional. The rear bench in the crew cab seated four.

SRS airbags were made available in September 2018.

Equipment levels were carry-overs from the class-leading Iveco Daily 4×2 models and included ABS/EBD vacuum/hydraulic, disc and drum braking (ABS was cancelled when the centre differential was locked for off-road driving); seat belt pretensioners; power windows; remote central locking; powered, heated main mirrors and manual-adjust spotters; trip computer; three DIN slots, including a CD player/radio; USB outlets; cruise control; climate-control air conditioning/heating; engine fan cut-off; engine immobiliser and headlight beam-height adjustment.

An obvious omission from the 2013 specification was Bluetooth connectivity, but that was remedied in the 2017 model. Another inclusion was a battery isolation switch, to ensure the starting battery couldn’t be accidentally drained.

Also added was an ESP9 braking system that included automatic skid reduction (ASR); trailer recognition with trailer sway mitigation; a hill holding feature; brake-fade pressure boost and roll-over intervention.

Both Daily 4×4 models were built on a 3400mm wheelbase, giving excellent approach, departure and ramp-over angles of 50, 30 and 150 degrees, respectively.

In the interests of car-licensed driver operation the standard gross mass rating was 4495kg, but for those with a light-truck licence the vehicle could be purchased with an increased 5500kg – previously 5200kg – GVM rating, without any modification being necessary.

At the lower GVM rating the single cab had a body and payload capacity of 1795kg, and 2800kg at the higher rating. The crew cab had a standard payload of 1505kg and 2510kg at the higher GVM rating. All Daily 4x4s could pull a 3500kg trailer.

RRPs in August 2016 were $88,000 for the single-cab/chassis and $94,000 for the crew-cab/chassis – up eight grand on the previous post-2013 models. Pricing in 2019 was $104,000 and $111,000, respectively.

 

In-service issues

No matter how much testing truck makers do, there are inevitable issues that develop with first-generation products in the Australian environment. The post-2013 Iveco Daily was no exception.

Several owners had braking issues, quoting situations where the front discs became red hot while the rear drums remained cool. The culprit was invariably a poorly-set-up load proportioning valve on the rear axle. That was eliminated from the 2017 model, Iveco said, by the fitment of an ESP9 braking system.

Another common complaint from owners of Dailys that travelled on corrugated roads was mangled transfer case mounting bushes. Iveco reckoned the latest-generation bushes solved that problem and they can be retro-fitted to earlier models.

On and off road

The Daily 4×4 single- and crew-cab trucks had a definite presence, because the slightly modified Daily 4×2 cab sat up high on a purpose-built, box-section frame. Doing pre-trip checks under snub-nosed bonnet meant standing on the new three-piece bumper.

Fortunately, getting in and out of the skyscraper cab was easy, thanks to an additional step bolted under each doorsill. The crew cab got rear-door entry steps as well.

Seat adjustment for reach, rake and driver’s weight was easy and the 2017 seats were lower than the previous perches. Also, the new steering column and smaller wheel were better positioned.

The 2017 cab had a taller windscreen, improving off-road, steep-country vision and pedal disposition was more central than previously, although the pedals were a tad close together for fat-boot work.

The main transmission lever poked conveniently out of the dashboard and the two transfer case levers were close by the seat, allowing unfettered walk-through to the near-side door, or to the rear seat in crew-cabs.

The 2017-model launch didn’t include an on-road course, but the previous Daily 4×4 was a pleasure to drive on sealed roads and it had no trouble keeping up with traffic. Ride quality was firm, but better than that in forward-control light trucks and fat sway bars front and rear did a good job of limiting body roll in corners.

On the open road the Daily was happy to cruise all day at legal speeds and noise was minimal.

Vision was excellent in all directions; the wiper/washers worked a treat and the standard headlights were OK for town work. However, the 2017 cab has changed headlight positions that suggest worse lighting, so auxiliaries would be high on our shopping list.

On dirt the Daily was in its element and the under-drive gear set was perfect for these conditions. The vehicle handled corrugations in its stride.

In off-road conditions the 2017 Daily 4×4 maintained the marque’s stature as one of the most capable machines I’ve driven. Despite the Daily’s height the wheel track wasn’t much different from that of smaller 4×4 machines, so it fitted comfortably on bush tracks.

The 2017-model launch was held at the Melbourne 4×4 Proving and Training Ground. Robbie Emmins has done a great job of making this facility the ideal place for judging 4×4 capability, with a combination of chassis-twist, side-slope, mud-hole, creek fording and very steep sections.

The Daily 4×4 test vehicles were unloaded, making their lives even more difficult, but nothing in the Proving Ground proved too difficult for them. All the ground-level challenges were done in first-stage low range and the deep-reduction gearing was needed only for the steepest sections.

The diff-locking procedure was logical and easily performed: at the base of a climb I pressed Button One on the dashboard, to lock the centre differential, then Button Two, to lock the rear diff.

The Daily handled most obstacles without the front diff needing to be locked, but when it was engaged a beeper reminded me that steering would be heavily compromised. Diff lock engagement and disengagement was quick.

The diff locks operated faultlessly and if you forget to disengage them they do so automatically as road speed increases.

The new hill-hold function is a boon in steep country, allowing easy restarts without stress on the driver or machine.

The standard tyres – a mixture of 9.5R17.5 and 255/100R16 – were fine in these demanding conditions, but for sand work fatter rubber is available in the form of approved after-market 37×12.50R17 LTs from Federal and Hankook on steel-spoked wheels.

Although the Daily 4×4’s overall ground clearance was class-leading the front axle/steering design put the anti-sway bar and the tie rod in front of the axle, behind a protective grate that intruded into the approach angle. We dinged the grate easily on a rock shelf. It’s a shame the anti-sway bar couldn’t have been designed as a higher installation, with rod connections down to the spring plates. The tie rod, ideally, should be behind the axle housing.

Minor issues apart, Iveco was on a winner with this most capable machine.

 

2020 Daily 4×4 range released 

The introduction of new VW Crafter and Iveco Daily 4×4 models took place at the 2018 IAA Show in Hanover. They were displayed Down Under at the Queensland Truck Show in May 2019.

Unlike the Sprinter that’s assembled with 4×4 components by sub-contractor Oberaigner, the Crafter 4×4 and the 2020 Daily 4×4 are factory-built. Daily 4x4s are now being built in an Iveco plant in Turin, not by SCAM in Varese.

The outgoing Daily 4×4 is a military-style, high-mobility vehicle with live axles front and rear, high ground clearance and three-speed transfer case. That’s fine for those who need to conquer extreme terrain, but the configuration has some limitations for those who want a less ambitious vehicle.

Put a motorhome body on this truck and it develops a high centre of gravity that’s not desirable in side-slope conditions. Also, ride quality is truck-like and the only transmission is a manual.

Enter the additional 2020 variants that are built around a dual-wishbone, independent front suspension and a chassis that’s much closer to the ground.

The 2020 front end looks very like the original 1995 SCAM arrangement, with long torsion bars running down the chassis rails, from connectors on the top wishbones.

In place of SCAM’s three-speed transfer case with an ultra-low-speed bottom ratio is a more conventional Iveco-made two-speed transfer case that bolts directly to the rear of the main transmission. It’s the same unit used in the more powerful Eurocargo 4×4.

Standard is a six-speed manual and there’s an eight-speed Hi-Matic automated manual transmission option.

Billed as the most comprehensive lineup in its class the 2020 Daily 4×4 range includes cab/chassis, van, chassis/cowl and crew-cab versions, with a choice of single wheels all around or duals at the rear.

Also, there are GVMs up to 7.0 tonnes, with 4.3-tonnes payload, maximum load of 2700kg on the front axle and 5000kg on the rear axle.

All variants are powered by the current 180hp, three-litre engine and come with much larger four-wheel disc brakes, with ABS and Electronic Stability Program (ESP).

Traction gear includes centre, front and rear differential locks, which is a huge advantage over the seriously under-equipped Sprinter 4×4.

The Daily 4×4 vans are 5.5- and 7.0-tonnes GVM models, with a choice of manual or auto boxes. Cargo volumes are 9.0 to 18 cubic metres for the single wheel off-road models and from 16 to 18 cubic metres for the dual-rear-wheel, all-road models.

We’re looking forward to providing more details of this 2020 Daily 4×4 range and an on- and off- road test, but the Australian release has been postponed.

 

Brisbane Truck Show preview

In May 2019 Iveco displayed an Australian-market-specification 2020 Daily 4×4 at the Brisbane Truck Show. Noticeably, it sported a larger 110-litre fuel tank.

As with its predecessor, the new Daily retains full-time four wheel drive and front, centre and rear differential locks as standard: equipment that positions the model at the top of its class.

Safety in the new model has also been upgraded with the addition of front and rear ventilated disc brakes, replacing the front solid disc and rear drum combination. The braking system has ABS plus Iveco’s ESP 9 program, which includes Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program and Anti Slip Regulation.

GVM options range from a passenger-car-licence 4495kg to light-truck 7000kg, compared with the previous 5500kg maximum, increasing the appeal of the Daily 4×4 to emergency fleets that need water tank capacity and also to motorhome builders.

This test unit had already undergone serious bush trialling,
before being detailed for the Brisbane event. Obvious was greatly reduced chassis height, compared with the height of the outgoing model’s frame, but minimum ground clearance didn’t seem much different.

OTA spoke at length with one of the test engineers, who reported absolutely no issues with the new truck during its local evaluation. It had completed the same rough-terrain courses as its predecessor, with no compromises in ability.

However, subsequent testing revealed some driveline vibration and that was hopefully being rectified in late 2019.

First drive

We managed a short on-road drive in one of the pre-production 2020 Iveco Daily 4x4s, in September 2019. This cab/chassis was being readied for motorhome fitment by Earthcruiser, but we managed to interrupt the busy build schedule for some early drive impressions.

Firstly, getting in and out was much easier, thanks to lower cab step height. However, ground clearance underneath the Daily’s front end was substantially unchanged.

The new model’s transfer case is a two-speed unit, straight from the much heavier GVM Eurocargo 4×4, so durability should be no issue.

The Earthcruiser truck was top-spec’ automated-shift model, rated at seven tonnes GVM. That meant no major chassis mods were necessary for motorhome fitment, but several air tanks were being relocated for easier access and the fuel tank was being replaced by a larger-capacity unit.

In unladen cab/chassis configuration and with highway tyre pressures the Daily 4×4 rode firmly, but immediately noticeable was much kinder front suspension feedback into the chassis. Independent, torsion-bar front suspension also gave much better handling than the original high-set leaf springs.

The transmission shifted sweetly and we reckon it will be the preferred choice of recreational Daily 4×4 buyers.

We’re anxiously awaiting an official test drive in some loaded Dailys, but there’s no Australian release date as at April 2020. Covid-19 is unlikely to hasten that event.

The following video shows the 2013 model in action.

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