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Advantages: Can house up to nine people, surprisingly engaging drive, lots of equipment onboard, affordable running costs, well constructed
Disadvantages: More than a grazing by the ugly stick, depreciation, lethargic engines, expensive price tag
Summary: If youíre in the market for something less obvious and niche market-led than the populist likes of the Ford S-MAX, Vauxhall Zafira, VW Touran and the Peugeot 308SW, then may we be as bold to suggest the Fiat Scudo Panorama. Seriously, itís a whole lotta van-cum-MPV practicality, competence and adaptability rolled into the one curiously Peugeot-esque shape. And if youíve got an outdoorsy family, scout troupe or would-be rock band then there really is no better way to cart them around.
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In another (often cruel) twist of panel van fate, Fiat has transformed its Scudo load-lugger into the Scudo Panorama; which as the name implies, suggests the adaptation of some more glazed areas for Ďfurther passengersí to peer out of. And naturally, when we hint at more passengers weíve got the tribute rock band tour bus type firmly fixed in our mindís eye.
Still, if youíre on the lookout for a spacious, reliable shuttle bus to transport you from one intimate venue to another dodgy pub with a reputation then you could do much worse than the Fiat Scudo Panorama. A faux-MPV that goes a little way to prove that image isnít everything.
Thereís no other way of saying this, but the Scudo Panorama is what happened when Fiat decided to play another MPV card Ė much like its predecessor the Ducato did - wising up to the fact that they might have been missing a trick or two. Itís also a by-product of Fiatís alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen, who solder the words Expert and Dispatch on the business end of their respective Scudos.
The Scudo Panorama is offered with two wheelbases and two engines. But when the power plant in the frame is Fiatís more than useful 2.0-litre MultiJet diesel (in either 120 or 140bhp format) then the omens are clearly encouraging. Thereís no avoiding the underlying fact that the Panorama is rather unorthodox in the skin, or for that matter aping Peugeotís design direction in many ways. Predominantly front on when observing the rakish windscreen, bulbous front bumper and stretched headlampsÖall Pug calling cards in our estimation.
Where the Scudo Panorama is unmistakeably Fiat however is in the arena of space. And what an auditorium owners have at their disposal. So much so that the pseudo-rock band could hold an impromptu sound check in the confines of it with seating for a few hardcore groupies to look on. As standard the Panorama packs 5/6 seats located within a wheelbase measuring some 3000mm in length. Which when all occupants are seated still allows a 530kg payload to be at your service.
Opt for the longer wheelbase 3122mm Scudo Panorama, and this area is upped to 610kg. And even if you go the whole hog and circle the part in the Fiat brochure that asks whether you require an additional three chairs for the rear, and youíll still find somewhere to stash a minimum of 249kg worth of lighting, rigging, ect.
The interiorís resin-based surfaces arenít exactly tactile, but then ably cope with any spillages with aplomb, whilst all the major control functions are easily visible and get-at-able, with the crucial elements located at various junctures on the steering column.
Cubby holes are abound, so you can compartmentalise most of your travel wares in an easy to recall fashion (for the OCD sufferers amongst you) and the singular Scudo Panorama trim level is stuffed to bursting point with standardised kit and caboodle for the band on the run. Electric front windows, dual-zone climate, front fogs, CD player, height adjustable driverís seat, Bluetooth connectivity, twin front and side airbags and for absolute ease of entry and exit, the ubiquitous VIP sliding door policy.
In terms of the drive, we recommend you purchase the 140bhp version, just so you can circumnavigate those tricky hill ascents; and even then the progress will be reserved. That said, the suspension gobbles up road bumps and the electrically assisted steering is spot on, and will never lead you astray. Impressively minimalist body swerve for a tall vehicle too, while ABS and EBD lead by example in the safety camp.
Whatís more, reservoir-like 80-litre fuel tanks also mean considerable distances can be journeyed before top ups, while you can sleep easier in the knowledge and rarefied air (in this segment) that your contribution to the greenhouse effect is on average 195g/km. not bad all things considered.
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