Outdoors

Fiat experiments with 4x4 Ducato camper van

Fiat experiments with 4x4 Duca...
With help from several partners, the Fiat Ducato is ready to camp deep off grid
With help from several partners, the Fiat Ducato is ready to camp deep off grid
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The Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper show van has a simple dining layout
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The Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper show van has a simple dining layout
Fiat's Ducato van gets a bit of attitude
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Fiat's Ducato van gets a bit of attitude
With help from several partners, the Fiat Ducato is ready to camp deep off grid
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With help from several partners, the Fiat Ducato is ready to camp deep off grid
The Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper is an experiment in a tougher, off-road-ready Ducato camper
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The Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper is an experiment in a tougher, off-road-ready Ducato camper
The Ducato 4x4 show van includes a large roof rack, oversized tires, a heightened ride height and a special graphics package
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The Ducato 4x4 show van includes a large roof rack, oversized tires, a heightened ride height and a special graphics package
With some help from a Dangel 4x4, the Ducato feels more at home on the dirt
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With some help from a Dangel 4x4, the Ducato feels more at home on the dirt
The Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper makes its debut at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon this week
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The Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper makes its debut at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon this week
Just because it's more off-road-friendly doesn't mean you can't enjoy a trip on pavement
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Just because it's more off-road-friendly doesn't mean you can't enjoy a trip on pavement
Fiat worked with several European partners in designing its new camper concept
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Fiat worked with several European partners in designing its new camper concept
Fiat says clearly that it is not planning a production Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper model
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Fiat says clearly that it is not planning a production Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper model
The interior features integrated lighting and retractable TVs
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The interior features integrated lighting and retractable TVs
The folding bed
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The folding bed
The kitchen area
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The kitchen area
Inside the Ducato 4x4 show van
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Inside the Ducato 4x4 show van
The Fiat Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper shows a look at a tougher, dirtier Ducato camper van
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The Fiat Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper shows a look at a tougher, dirtier Ducato camper van

The Volkswagen Transporter may have a richer, more nostalgic history, but when it comes to modern-day camper vans, the Fiat Ducato is the reigning king of base vehicles. Fiat goes so far as to call it "the only base created to be a camper." For this year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, Fiat Professional teamed with the 4x4 specialists at Dangel to give the Ducato a bit more capability. The Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper Show Van opens up new possibilities, letting the Ducato driver stake his overnight claim well off the beaten, paved track.

This year has proven an interesting one for 4WD camper vans, with Mercedes receiving the lion's share of attention thanks to the North American release of the Sprinter 4x4, used as the base for campers from the likes of Sportsmobile and Winnebago, and the debut of the smaller Vito 4x4.

With the Ducato 4x4 show van, Fiat Professional pulls a bit of that spotlight away from Mercedes. It says the van is its first exploration of a segment that accounts for 25 percent of the camper van market, and while it doesn't have immediate plans for production, it is watching that part of the market. Given the Ducato's extreme popularity in the camper van market, a Ducato 4x4 seems like a natural choice for motorhome buyers looking for something a little more rugged and off-road-capable.

When Fiat decided to experiment with an off-road-ready camper based on a high roof, long wheelbase Ducato, it already had an obvious partner in place. French company Dangel specializes in equipping 4x4 systems to Fiat, Peugeot and Citroën vehicles, including the Ducato. We saw some of its work at last year's Paris Motor Show.

The Fiat Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper shows a look at a tougher, dirtier Ducato camper van
The Fiat Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper shows a look at a tougher, dirtier Ducato camper van

Dangel adds its permanent all-wheel drive system with viscous coupling to the Ducato base, giving the 150-hp, 2.3-liter Multijet II engine some help in the slick stuff. To complement that system, it also raises the ride height and bolts on new wheels and wraps them in oversized tires, giving the van more capability in managing variable terrain and clearing obstacles. The track is also widened and a front skid plate added.

The Ducato 4x4 Expedition Camper gets an elevated look to match its enhanced capabilities, courtesy of a partnership with Olmedo Special Vehicles. Added equipment includes an LED light bar, a front winch and some serious carry capacity atop the high roof. Even with included gear like the two spare tires and traction mats secured down, there's plenty of room for other essentials. The rack is reinforced with a walking platform, making gear access easier.

Aesthetically, there's a two-tone paint job, red "Opening New Roads" designations teasing the Ducato camper's newfound off-road capability, and plenty of "Ducato 4x4 Expedition" badging.

While rugged outside, the Expedition is calm and cool inside, where an understated, neutral-color cabin invites folks to relax. The interior is the work of the Italian RV and yacht interior specialists at Tecnoform, who have filled out the van with a state-of-the-art entertainment system with dual retractable flat-screen TVs and multi-speaker audio. The interior also has a furniture-integrated lighting system.

Inside the Ducato 4x4 show van
Inside the Ducato 4x4 show van

Fiat hasn't detailed the complete ins and outs of the interior, presumably because this is a one-off concept van focused mostly on exterior upgrading, but photos show that there's a multi-panel fold-out bed running the width of the cabin, a kitchen with stainless steel sink and glass-top stove, and a dining table between the rear seats and swiveling front seats. The double rear doors and central aisle in back seem optimized for cargo hauling.

Fiat says outright that there's no future for the Ducato 4x4 Expedition beyond making appearances at a few other shows after Düsseldorf. The show van does demonstrate that Fiat is at least thinking more about the off-road camper van market, and with a 4WD converter like Dangel already there, a production Ducato 4x4 camper would be a fairly straightforward journey. The suits upstairs will have to figure out how good it looks on the balance sheet, though.

Source: Fiat

4 comments
bergamot69
Probably more comfortable than a Merc Sprinter with 4x4, but the Ducato's achilles' heel has always been its chocolate gearbox and clutch- notorious for failure- so I wouldn't regard this as a true 'off-roader', rather a ruggedised van that is capable of crossing fields or an occasional excursion down an unmade road. Panel vans are usually a poor choice for overlanding, as they tend to lack torsional stiffness, due to the body being constantly twisting. 'barn' rear doors tend to let in copious amounts of dust, as the seals just don't work when the doors are rubbing up and down with the twisting. A Pinzgauer or a Unimog with a separate rear accomodation body on three-point mountings is much more suitable, rugged, and (if used), capable of running on high-sulphur developing world diesel.
mr79
... still a Fiat
RubberJesus
I am really searching for a reason to WHY I should care about a vehicle that will never be released in the US market. Yeah .. nope, none.
GTM
I would laugh but to be honest it will probably work for them because there's enough clueless people buying them already... If you haven't already worked out the difference between a flimsey Fiat Vs. Mercedes... Front wheel drive and flimsey tagged on aluminium chassis Vs a proper RWD steel chassis with the weight over the driven wheels... Lol