Straight from Turkey by way of Italy comes the 2015 Ram ProMaster City; it’s based on parent company Fiat’s Doblo van (winner of two International Vehicle of the Year awards), as popular on European roads as Ford Econolines and Chevy Expresses are on our roads here.
However, vans like the Doblo ProMaster City, Ford Transit Connect and Nissan NV200 are quickly making the old-school truck-based vans obsolete; Ford has already said that they’d be cancelling the lighter versions of their Econolines after the 2014 model year in favour of their new, smaller-engined Transit vans that have been doing so well by the electricians, plumbers and delivery servicemen in Europe for decades.
Before the City came the full-size ProMaster vans, born to fill the void left by departing Dodge-badged Mercedes-sourced Sprinter vans after the messy Daimler-Chrysler break-up. The City, then, really is an all-new sector for Ram, unless you include the Grand Caravan-based Ram Cargo Van, but that’s pushing it a bit.
Or perhaps not.
Like the CV, the City gets many car-based underpinnings, from the industry-first bi-link rear suspension (no leaf springs here), 2.4L Tigershark I4 shared with the Dodge Dart and Fiat 500L and we see yet another application of Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s (FCA) nine-speed automatic transmission. That powertrain is your only choice, however; there are no plans to bring the diesel engines from European Doblos to our shores. When you consider how the price gap between diesel and gasoline seems to be widening by the cent every day, it’s easy to understand why.
Styling-wise, the front end has a new, more aerodynamic grille than does the Doblo – helping lower fuel consumption from a combined 11.2 to 8.1 L/100 km, but that’s pretty much the extent of it; even the high-mounted headlights and extra-wide plastic bumpers are carried over, so if you do get in a fender bender or two, the glass of the head- and taillights will be safe.
Under the skin, the engine bay has been made wider in order to accommodate the Tigershark that the Doblo doesn’t get, and many of the brackets and rails that make up the City’s body and chassis (it’s of steel unibody construction) have been reinforced to better handle choppy Canadian roads and rough winters. It rides a little higher, too.
The Tigershark is a good engine, and its 178 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque do well to translate to a 855 kg payload. This drops to 770 kg, however, if you decide to opt for the ProMaster City Wagon, which gains a second row of seating and the ability to seat five. It should be noted that Ford’s Transit Connect Wagon has room for seven.
Which is understandable when you consider that during the media presentation of the City just outside of Austin, TX, the Ram folks on hand were much keener to highlight the work van qualities of the City, with just a few cursory remarks about the Wagon.
Those qualities include near-vertical walls that can easily accommodate a host of rack systems, which are already being made available by groups like Weather Guard. You’ll also find a flat load floor and low step-in height thanks to the FWD setup; there’s no need to run a driveshaft to the rear wheels, allowing for more cargo space and easier access to the cargo bay.