When you think rugged off-road vehicles, one of the last ones that comes to mind, for most people, is the 2016 Iveco Daily 4x4.
Iveco hopes to change that with the latest iteration of the Iveco Daily 4x4, which features a raft of changes, along with incredible off-road credentials and huge payload.
To put the Daily 4x4 range to the ultimate test, we joined the Iveco team at the Werribee Four-Wheel Drive Training Centre, where we had the chance to pilot a mix of single- and dual-cab vehicles, on a mix of road and off-road tyres.
The biggest changes to the Daily 4x4 come in the form of a new cabin, which features an ECE-R29 rating (a crash rating designated to commercial vehicles), in addition to a revised Euro 6 engine.
Prices start from $88,000 (plus on-road costs) for the single-cab Daily 4x4 and $94,000 (plus on-road costs) for the dual-cab Daily 4x4. The higher capacity 5500kg GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) is a no-cost option. Servicing occurs at 12 month, 40,000km service intervals.
Refinements such as noise suppression and dust ingress were the direct result of cabin improvements ported from the Daily 4x2. Additionally, mounting and integration of the new cabin have resulted in a smoother ride for all occupants.
Safety has also been improved with the introduction of ESP9, which includes all the standard features such as EBD, ESP and ASR, but also comes with DTC (Drag Torque Control), hill holding, ALC (Active Load Control), TSM (Trailer Sway Mitigation), HRB (Hydraulic Rear Wheel Boost), HFC (Hydraulic Fading Compensation), RMI (Roll Movement Intervention) and ROM (Roll Over Mitigation). While the Daily 4x4 doesn't feature any airbags, a driver and front passenger airbag system is expected to be available from March 2017 production.
The driver and front passenger have it best, though, with the use of an adjustable ISRI air-suspended seat. Unlike some trucking tragics, it's the first time we've had the chance to test a vehicle with a seat like this and it offers a huge improvement in comfort thanks to its extended level of movement over bumps.
From the outside, it's not hard to see that the Daily 4x4 benefitted from extensive Italian design. The vehicle we tested takes the design stakes even further with the camouflage wrap that makes it look like a special-ops missile launcher.
Don't be mistaken by its size in photographs - it's huge. It requires a sizeable step up from terrafirma, while the tray sits at around head height for a taller human like yours truly.
The interior isn't as exciting as the outside. It's a bit bland and errs more on the side of truck than it does suburban off-roader. Rugged plastics surround the cabin, while a small head unit controls the audio system.
Infotainment consists of a CD player with Bluetooth connectivity, in addition to steering wheel mounted controls for audio volume and telephony.
The speedometer cluster features engine temperature, fuel tank capacity, the tachometer and an LCD display that contains the trip computer.
There is automatic climate control, along with switches to control the engine fan (useful for river crossings), differential locks and fog lights, on the dashboard.
Within the cabin there is a heap of storage with an abundance of cup holders and storage cavities.
Under the bonnet is Iveco's Euro 6 compliant turbocharged diesel engine. The 3.0-litre four-cylinder engine uses a variable geometry turbocharger, which helps it produce 125kW of power and 400Nm of torque. It's mated to a six-speed manual transmission, with no automatic gearbox available at this stage.
Diesel is stored in a 90-litre fuel tank, which is accompanied by a 25-litre AdBlue tank, requiring one litre of AdBlue per 100 litres of diesel.
Iveco doesn't publish fuel consumption figures (much like others in the truck industry), but given its kerb weight of 2700kg, it's likely to sit at around 15L/100km on the combined cycle unladen.
Speaking of which, the Daily 4x4 can tackle a mammoth payload in addition to its 3500kg braked towing capacity. Both single- and dual-cab variants come with a 4495kg GVM, which allows for a body and payload capacity of 1795kg in single- and 1505kg for dual-cab variants. Option the 5500kg GVM (which requires a truck license) and that body and payload increases to a hefty 2800kg for the single- and 2510kg for the dual-cab.
That trend continues with potential axle loads — the front capable of 2450kg and the rear a huge 3700kg. Of course, that payload means a decent kerb weight of 2700kg for the single- and 2990kg for the dual-cab.
Under the skin, the Daily 4x4 features a parabolic three leaf front suspension system with a 24mm reinforced stabiliser bar and a parabolic four leaf rear suspension setup with telescopic shock absorbers and a 28mm stabiliser bar.
Arguably, the most impressive part of the Daily 4x4 is actually the transfer box. In regular conditions, it transfers 68 per cent of torque to the rear and 32 per cent to the front. The driver is then able to select from up to 24 gears that vary in ratio all the way down to 1:101.
That means that the driveshaft performs 101 revolutions for each revolution of the tyre. That's almost double what some of the most hardcore factory four-wheel drives will do. The two low-range modes are selected by using a green or red lever that moves the transfer box from 1:1 to 1:1.244 and 1:3.115 to 1:3.866.
In addition to these systems, there is a lockable front, centre and rear differential, making the Iveco Daily 4x4 literally a go-anywhere truck.
Its credentials are strengthened even further with a 660mm wading depth (with switchable engine fan), 45 degree maximum incline/decline grade, 48 degree approach and 39 degree departure angles, 153 degree breakover angle and full underbody and axle protection.
Now, enough about the specifications - how does it drive?
Let's point out the obvious: all vehicles we tested on the day had no load in the rear. We also had the chance to test the standard 6x17.5-inch wheel, the optional 6.5x16-inch off-road wheel and the optional 37-inch off-road tyres.
On the standard 6x17.5-inch wheel, the ride was noticeably rough over some of the rutted terrain at the four-wheel-drive centre. The firmness of the ride was offset by the air-suspended seat, which helped smooth things out, but not enough to take the edge out of some of the bumps.
The higher profile 6.5x16-inch wheel totally transformed the ride. The extra profile helped it absorb a lot of the impact that was transferred through to the cabin. The only limitation with this tyre is a reduced maximum speed of 100km/h, as opposed to 120km/h with the lower profile option.
The steering is much like many other trucks, in that it requires a lot of steering input. And, with a kerb-to-kerb turning circle of a little over 13.4 metres, it needs a generous amount of space to swing around.
Throttle response is good, with the engine developing its peak torque from 1250rpm. The torque graph then looks like a kitchen table all the way through to 3000rpm, where it begins tapering off.
In terms of off-road driving, there wasn't a hill at the four-wheel drive centre that stopped the Iveco Daily 4x4. With most terrain tackled with the centre differential locked and low-range active, it was a walk in the park.
We have previously tested dual-cab utilities and off-road SUVs at the same facility. There were some portions of the track that they couldn't tackle, but it presented no genuine challenge to the Daily 4x4. There's no heroic story here of how everything required a run-up with plenty of pedal - it simply went everywhere.
And, that's the point of the Iveco Daily 4x4. It's built to do just that - and with a large load on the rear, be it a camper trailer or a whole bunch of gear.
We are really looking forward to putting to the test on the open road to see how it performs around the confines of suburbia.
Until then, it's impossible to find any standard car capable of the load and off-roading this truck can do. To find that, you'll need to massively modify a road legal vehicle to match the Daily 4x4's potential.