Top of the heap
With its Daily 4x4 cab/chassis and dual cab/chassis variants, Iveco occupies a rather unique market segment in between the 4x4 ute and larger 4x4 truck offerings. Prime Mover took one for a play in the mud and discovered a decidedly capable offroad load lugger.
With a good swathe of this vast country consisting of thickly forested mountainous and outback desert regions accessible only by all-wheel-drive vehicles, it stands to reason that the Daily 4x4 is ideally suited to the likes of mining, emergency services and bush firefighting operations that frequent these areas.
When it comes to vehicle specifications that provide ultimate off-roadability, the Daily 4x4 is extremely well endowed.
For a start, it features Iveco’s torquey 3.0 litre, Euro 6-compliant turbo-diesel engine producing 180hp (135kW) and 430Nm of torque between 1,250 and 3,000 rpm.
Both single and dual-cab versions sport gross vehicle mass (GVM) ratings of either a passenger car licence 4,495kg or a no-cost optional 5,500kg, the latter providing a payload capacity of 2,800kg. All variants have a braked towing capacity of 3,500kg.
The rugged high-tensile C-section chassis is suspended by front and rear parabolic leaf springs with telescopic shock absorbers and stabiliser bars.
In the driveline department there’s a robust, full-time 4x4 system complete with standard front, centre and rear differential locks that are conveniently engaged via dash-mounted buttons.
The transmission is a well-proven six-speed single overdrive unit, while the double-reduction low-range transfer case provides 24 ratios including the ultra-low 101:1 ‘bog cog’ for exceptional crawling ability and off-road control.
Particularly important for firefighting and agricultural applications, there are two power take-off (PTO) output locations.
Approach and departure angles are extremely impressive at 48° and 39° respectively (with rear under-run bar in the upper position) along with a 153° ramp-over angle and 660mm wading depth with the standard 9.5R17.5 tyres.
For operators requiring a wider and more aggressively treaded off-road tyre, the Daily 4x4 can be fitted with aftermarket 37x12.5R17 tyres. This tyre size provides access to a broad range of rubber from leading tyre manufacturers. Speedo recalibration is undertaken electronically at the dealership during the customer pre-delivery process.
Serious off-roaders who regularly ford deep water will also appreciate the snorkelled diff breathers and the engine cooling fan on/off switch on the dash.
Other standard features include a dash-mounted battery isolation button which deactivates the vehicle’s electrical system with exception to the instrument cluster and central locking.
In the safety stakes the Daily 4x4 range includes passenger and driver’s airbags along with front disc and rear drum brakes incorporating ABS and Iveco’s comprehensive ‘ESP 9’ safety program.
Interior comfort has been improved with noise reductions of 4dBa achieved through the use of increased insulation, redesigned B- pillars and a shape modification to the side mirrors which allows for quieter airflow.
Ride quality has been enhanced by a suspended and heated ISRI driver’s seat, which is optionally available for the passenger side.
A serious wet spell proved ideally timed to test the prowess of the Daily 4x4 in the hinterland hills of the Gold Coast.
We drove it up and down a number of rough and slippery slopes with all three diff locks engaged and it proved utterly unstoppable. The double reduction low range was just the ticket to enable low-speed scrambling over particularly rocky inclines and through tight cuttings without fear of frying the clutch or stalling the engine.
Good axle articulation was noted as another strong point as the Daily picked its way up a deeply rutted slope while mostly keeping all four paws planted on terra firma. As the test vehicle was unladen, it would be reasonable to suppose that axle articulation would increase in these situations if the vehicle had a full payload onboard, along with a proportional increase in flex of the high-tensile chassis.
Once back on the blacktop the Daily 4x4 kept shining with its agile acceleration and nimble handling. Particularly impressive was the tight short-throw dash-mounted gear shifter which wouldn’t be out of place in a sports car.
In fact, apart from the higher ride height and somewhat firmer suspension during on-road driving, one could be forgiven for thinking this was a regular 4x2 Daily. The fact that the cab is virtually identical whether mounted on the 4x2 or 4x4 chassis adds further weight to this theory.
All up, the Daily 4x4 gave a very good account of itself and proved equally capable in the most extreme off-road conditions as cruising at 110km/h on the motorway. Given this, it would be an ideal vehicle to hitch up to a fifth-wheel caravan for a trip around Australia. It could then be unhitched at various locations and used for off-road adventuring.
Auto in the Wings
Later this year an updated Daily 4x4 is set to launch, with a highlight being the long-awaited option of Iveco’s Hi-Matic eight-speed, fully automatic transmission. The auto trans has been available across the 4x2 Daily range since 2015 and is expected to further improve both on- and off-road performance of the 4x4 model. Another substantial change is the move to independent front suspension which promises to build on the already accomplished on-road ride, handling and general control of the vehicle. Safety has also been enhanced with the addition of front and rear ventilated disc brakes compared to its predecessor’s front solid disc/rear drum combination. Other significant ameliorations include the option of different wheelbase lengths and a no-cost optional GVM upgrade to a light truck rating of 7,000kg.