The Iveco Massif was a utility 4×4 vehicle mainly aimed at the utility services and military markets and was part of Iveco’s 4×4 and off-road range including the Trakker lorry and “Daily” 4×4 van. The Massif was produced by Santana Motors in Spain under licensing agreement with Fiat/Iveco from 2007 to 2011 and it was a rebadged and restyled version of the Santana PS-10, a derivative from the Land Rover Series range.
Built in Spain but marketed by Iveco (the commercial section of the Fiat motor company) the Massif was aimed to compete with the mighty Land Rover Defender at the utility end of the 4×4 market, everyone knew this was going to be a tough fight.
The Massif was essentially a revamped and restyled version of the Santana PS-10, which, like the Defender, is itself a derivative of the Land Rover series that Santana formerly built under license from the British company. The Massif was to have a basic farm variant too, called the Campagnola, a name resurrected from the Fiat archives of post WWII era.
The truck was part of a joint venture between Iveco and Santana; Iveco announced in Madrid in May 2006 that it was essentially taking over the PS-10 product. Iveco already supplied the engine and drive-train to Santana for its PS-10 model so this seemed a logical progression.
The Massif was to be produced alongside the Santana PS-10.
Vehicle styling was by Giorgetto Giugiaro and the Iveco Style Centre. The Massif bears a clear family resemblance to its sister product the Santana PS-10 which itself was heavily based on the Land Rover Series. Beyond the modernized front clip, the family resemblance to the Land Rover Defender is strong.
The Massif was available with two versions of Iveco’s 3.0 ltr diesel engine taken from the Iveco Daily van.
A 150 PS (110 kW; 148 bhp) HPI version with 350 N·m (258 lb·ft) of torque and a 176 PS (129 kW; 174 bhp) HPT version with 400 N·m (295 lb·ft) of torque were available. The extra horsepower of the HPT version comes from a variable geometry turbocharger. Both engines met Euro IV emissions standards.
The Massif is fitted with a 6-speed ZF 6S400 overdrive manual gearbox with high and low range ratios. No automatic was available. The Massif also had selectable four-wheel drive, like its forebear the Land Rover Series (unlike the Land Rover Defender with permanent four-wheel drive). This was intended to reduce fuel consumption, claimed as “up to 10%” by Iveco. The decision to have selectable four-wheel drive is believed to be because Iveco suggested permanent four-wheel drive is unnecessary for the majority of driving conditions. The Massif is usually in 4×2, rear-wheel drive unless four wheel drive is engaged.
The truck was also fitted with manual-locking free-wheeling hubs on the front axles which prevent the rotation of front axle components, supposedly to reduce wear. An optional limited slip rear differential was also available to improve off-road ability by reducing the chance of getting cross-axled.
The Massif has all round disc brakes with ventilated discs on the front axle and simple discs on the rear axle. The hand brake is like the Land Rover, a disc brake operating on the propellar shaft.
Parabolic suspension was fitted all round, as opposed to the coil springs of its contemporary the Defender, which was arranged with double bladed springs on the front axle and four bladed springs on the rear axle. Also fitted were hydraulic dampers on the front axle, gas dampers on the rear axle and anti-roll bars at both front and rear to give a compromise of on-road handling and off-road ability. The parabolic suspension system can be regarded as a cost-effective compromise between the simplicity and load carrying ability of leaf springs and the better comfort and axle articulation (and thus off-road ability) of coil springs.
The Massif was built as a traditional bolt on body construction with a ladder chassis, rather than a monocoque construction now common with most modern 4×4s. The chassis was based on the chassis used for the Iveco Daily van range. This layout is another similarity with Land Rover’s Defender.
The rear door of the Massif was designed to have a full metre-wide opening to allow a standard Euro pallet to be comfortably carried in the rear of the vehicle, used as a unique selling point of the vehicle because of its anticipated market of the utility & commercial sector.
The Massif can also be specified with a variety of transmission or transfer box power-take-off units and electrical connections on the body work to increase its attraction to commercial users further.
The interior of the Massif had been overhauled from the Santana PS-10 version to make it more competitive with the recently updated Land Rover Defender.
The Massif was available in long (2,768 mm /109.0 in) and short wheelbase (2,452 mm /96.5 in) variants.
A hard top, station wagon, pick up and chassis cab were available. The long wheelbase station wagon seated up to 7 people.
A “heavy duty” version of the Massif with a 3.5 tonne GVW and towing capacity was also in development for commercial users.
Launch models had been heavily promoted with advertising showing the All Blacks rugby squad as Iveco had signed up as the main sponsor of the team. Launch vehicles had been displayed with black body work and “tribal” graphics which are associated with the team.
The Massif was also aimed at the service sector and the Iveco website showed computer generated models of the Massif with custom bodywork to allow the Massif to be used as emergency service vehicles such as ambulances and fire-fighting vehicles for off-road use; traditionally a sector that the Land Rover Defender with its specially dedicated Land Rover Special Vehicles division has dominated.
Iveco also announced that a military specification of the Massif would have been available, being fully air-portable similarly to its sister vehicle the Santana PS-10.
Although the PS-10 was available in left- and right-hand drive models, the Massif was available only as left-hand drive and only in mainland Europe. Iveco had initially intended the Massif to be launched in the UK in early 2009, it never arrived.
It is said the truck was a cheaper option to the Defender and from all accounts it proved to be a reliable and hard working truck, although being on the basic side of vehicle developments, but this is what some users want – simplicity. It was also said that the half hearted marketing by Fiat was the downfall of the vehicle.
In 2010, due to poor sales and the Fiat group’s ability to serve the European 4×4 market with imported Jeeps, Iveco decided to cease the agreement with Santana.
In 2011 the owner of Santana, the Government of Andalucia decided to close down the company and car factory with 1,341 people laid off or retired prematurely.
From 6,692 cars made in 2007, the company manufactured only 1,197 in 2009 and no more than 769 in 2010!
The Massif never really got to show its potential to the world, if it had, we are convinced it would have been a cheap work horse alternative to the Defender and would have certainly given it a run for the money. Plus with what we know now, the end of the Defender as we know it, the Massif could have gone on to even greater heights unchallenged … we will never know.