Looking for a safe and comfortable means of transporting the workforce? Then put a seven-seat Iveco Daily 35C12D crew cab tipper on your shortlist, writes Geoff Ashcroft.

It was not so long ago that anyone wanting to move a gang of blokes from site to site had severely limited choices - use more than one vehicle, try a minibus or cram into a panel van and perch where you could.

But all that has changed with the advent of crew cab vehicles. At last, there's a safe and sensible means of moving employees, with tools, from job to job. While the double cab pickup seemed to kick-start the migration away from hiding in the back of the van, the four-door Crew Cab has further extended transportation opportunities.

Volume & capacity

Take Iveco's latest Daily 35C12D HPI crew cab tipper as an example. Seven seats with proper belts and a useful tipper bed - in terms of volume and capacity - that allows easy fetching and carrying for loose and sheet materials.

In addition, the internal cab space on offer means that small tools and other easily stolen items needn't be left lying about in the open-back - they can be safely locked away when the crew is absent. It sounds like a local authority's dream?

Grossing at 3.5 tonnes, the seven-seat Iveco Daily crew cab we had the opportunity to try was fitted with an Ingimex Titan tipper body. It's a combination that the Italian vehicle manufacturer offers as part of its one-stop shop package.

Available through Iveco's DriveAway range, it is intended to simplify vehicle and body selection, while shortening delivery times to a maximum of two weeks from the point of order.

It also means the entire vehicle and not just the chassis, is approved by Iveco and this includes a three year/100,000 mile warranty for the chassis and body.

Power comes from a 2.3-litre, four-cylinder 16-valve Unijet engine with HPI common rail fuel injection. Adding a turbocharger and an intercooler helps this diesel engine to deliver 116hp across a 3100-3900rpm spread. A peak torque figure of 199 lb/ft is available from 1800-3000rpm, giving a useful blend of power and torque to keep the Daily from grinding to a halt when fully laden.

Power-assisted steering

Those with budgets to think about might be interested to know that the common-rail engine now used, means this Daily only needs to visit the workshop every 25,000 miles.

The drive runs through to a twin-wheel rear axle via a fivespeed manual gearbox. Power-assisted steering comes as part of the standard specification and disc brakes are installed all round. A load-sensing brake valve amends the brake bias and stopping performance to suit the Daily's working gross weight range, ensuring a fairly constant feel on the pedal regardless of the load being carried.

Keeping body and chassis in check is an independent suspension system up front, while semi-elliptic leaf springs combine with an anti-roll bar at the back. The payload capability extends to just 875kg, though Daily is also capable of towing a braked trailer grossing at up to 3 tonnes.

The Ingimex body includes load restraint points, removable rear corner posts made from steel, plus a stainless steel tailboard. Taking off the double-skinned drop-down sides is easy enough - over-centre catches release the side panels. With the tailgate and sides in place, load length is 2743mm and width is 2044mm - more than adequate for traditional 8x4 sheet materials.

Tipping is courtesy of a scissor-type lifting frame, pushed up using a single-stage ram powered by an electro-hydraulic pump. A warning beeper sounds when the body is tipped.

A key-isolated switch, hidden under the nearside of the chassis, is used to arm the tipping gear. Once activated, raising and lowering the body is done by push buttons via a control box that's located on a wander-lead, which is located alongside the driver's seat.

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Cab comfort levels are by no means luxurious - but wipe-clean surfaces and hard-wearing plastics offer a durable feel to the Daily's cab.

Storage bins include large pockets in the front doors, a netted area at the base of the dashboard and a useful lockable, lidded glovebox. There's even a moulding inside the glovebox that can safely hold a cup inside. Lifting the rear bench seat's cushion reveals a cavernous storage area for tools and equipment.

However, there's not a lot of legroom in the back and four big blokes perched on a bench seat need to be good friends before they take up residence in the back of the crew cab. Showing true Italian flair is the Daily's dashboard. Though heavily plasticised in easy to clean surfaces, it is gently curved towards the driver with dials arranged in individual pods to give a racy feel.

However, the Daily's cab is car-like in its comfort and layout, though it lacks enough adjustment on the steering column to get the best from the driving position. Plenty of movement on the seat though, and that can be used to give a lofty and perhaps commanding driving position for the less vertically challenged. It's an aspect that seems to have been derived from Iveco's knowledge of truck design.

Out on the road, this Daily ran well. And its cable-controlled gear lever was a big improvement on the last Daily I tested. There was no notchiness, no grinding and no limited choice of gears when the transmission was cold. It was easy to move from gear to gear without having to wrestle with the stick or make double-declutch movements. They call it progress.

Being a seven-seater also means it's quite a wide cab - and made to feel wider still with its generously proportioned door mirrors. While the mirrors afford good visibility, there's an element of vulnerability in them. It was easy to brush the nearside mirror when negotiating country lanes, and this frequently pushed the mirror housing toward the door, hampering nearside visibility. A stop was required every time, to reset the mirror. But without passengers, it was easy to move internally, across the cab, avoiding the need to get out into traffic and walk round the vehicle.

I'd have liked to see heated mirrors on the standard equipment list. On the cold autumn mornings encountered during our test drive, getting moisture off the mirrors proved a bind, as did winding windows up and down to achieve the same cleaning effect.

Despite the Daily crew cab's apparent size, the vehicleproved straight-forward to manoeuvre. A good steering lock and nicely weighted pedals meant you could thread the truck around most sites, and when you needed it, there was plenty of poke in the Unijet motor to run along comfortably at motorway speeds without threatening the longevity of your eardrums.

Nor was the cab filled with squeaks, groans or rattles, proving that Iveco seems to have made considerable progress with build quality.