Ford Transit LWB Hi-Roof Trend 125bhp
What is it?
When it comes to launches they simply don’t get any bigger than this. A new Transit – and we are not just talking facelifts here. Oh no!
It’s fresh from the nuts and bolts upwards
It’s fresh from the nuts and bolts upwards and after driving this van in Barcelona before the official spring launch we can only say: “Wow!” This new model blows away the opposition in terms of frugality, drivability, loadspace and maintenance costs.
Ford is primarily a fleet manufacturer – some 80% of its sales go to the big boys.
But that doesn’t mean smaller trade users are left out in the cold and the manufacturer is in the process of setting up 110 Transit Centres across the UK to deal with the special needs of people like you. As there are some 450 different variants including panels vans, chassis-cabs, box vans, lutons and minibuses it’s highly unlikely that you won’t find one to suit your particular needs.
One of the problems with the old Transit was that it had to cover two different sectors right from 2.6 tonnes to 4.7 tonnes gross vehicle weight, whereas all the other rivals have two different offerings (eg Volkswagen Transporter/Crafter and Citroen Dispatch/Relay).
That’s all changed now as Ford has split Transit into two distinct vans. The smaller Transit Custom was launched last year to rave reviews and now there’s the bigger version (2.9-4.7 tonnes).
With prices starting at £20,795 ex-VAT, the Transit is available in front, rear and all-wheel drive at weights of between 2.9 tonnes and 4.7 tonnes.
A single 2.2-litre turbodiesel powerplant offers 100bhp, 125bhp and 155bhp. There is also the choice of new HDT6 engines at 125bhp and 155bhp which already meet the forthcoming Euro 6 emissions standard, although these use an additional AdBlue tank which will have to be filled at regular intervals.
Ford has put a lot of work into lowering maintenance costs. Service intervals are now two years/30,000 miles
ECOnetic versions feature such additions as stop-start and a speed limiter and bump official combined fuel economy figure to 44.1mpg – that’s 6% better than the already-frugal outgoing ECOnetic model.
Three lengths and two roof heights are on offer and in the business end the new Transit offers up to 11% more loadspace than the old model. The sides are more vertical and the side loading doors have been enlarged for easier loading with a forklift.
Ford has put a lot of work into lowering maintenance costs too. Service intervals are now two years/30,000 miles and the maintenance time has been cut over 90,000 miles from 5.4 to 4.2 hours.
Ford’s analysis with a basket of 23 repair items shows the van is class-leading for non-scheduled maintenance. For example, the labour required for a rear brake disc repair has been cut from 2.6 hours to 1.3 hours. Meanwhile expensive mis-fuelling mistakes will be a thing of the past avoided with new standard-fit Easy Fuel system.
- Well, where do we start? Just about everything in this van is hot to be honest. On the outside the whole vehicle is swathed in black plastic, which means that when you scrape it (which you probably will at some time) it won’t cost an arm and a leg to repair.
- The Transit is about to go on sale in America for the first time (the Yanks get a stonking V6 twin-turbo petrol powerplant by the way) and that gaping grille is a nod to Yank style – they like ’em big and brash over the Pond. It looks a trifle odd to be honest but I’m sure we’ll soon get used to it.
- Unlike in the old Transit, the driver’s seat is superb and supportive – and the passenger ones are too. We never liked the old seat – it didn’t have any lumbar support and featured a nasty lump that stuck into the shoulder blades.
- The dashtop storage compartment complete with 12-volt take-off is carried over from the old model, which means that when you plug a sat nav unit in, you don’t have wires trailing all over the place.
- There is a handy overhead storage shelf, a fold-down desk in the back of the middle seat and a huge stowage area under the outer passenger seat so valuable items can be hidden from prying eyes. There are two coffee cup holders in the right places so the driver and passenger can reach them safely and two cola bottle bins for White Van Man’s precious two-litre fizzy drinks.
- In the back the side doors have been enlarged so that loading is easier. There’s a wipe-clean non-slip floor too and four bright lights for illuminating that cavernous 12.4 cubic metre loadspace. There’s headroom enough to stand up too, which alleviates a lot of back strain for people who spend any amount of time in the back of their vehicles.
- On the road, the 125bhp powerplant proved plenty for the roads around Barcelona, even with a half-load on board. If you don’t need to lug heavy cargo across large distances, we’d be tempted to recommend the lower-powered 100bhp model (which wasn’t available for driving at the launch). It’s cheaper to buy but having said that, fuel economy suffers with the smaller unit so overall costs will probably balance out in the end.
- This Transit is as close as you’ll ever get to driving a big car. The engine is just about noiseless, the steering taut and the handling pin-sharp.
- There are two trim levels on offer – base and Trend – and our test van, being the Trend variant, featured lots of goodies such as Electronic Stability Control, which helps alleviate sideways skids, a heated windscreen, foglamps, cruise control, leather trimmed steering wheel, Ford’s SYNC system with emergency assistance and front and rear parking sensors.
- We were really struggling to think of anything negative to say about this van but a couple of points eventually came to mind.
- The load-lashing eyes are all placed on the floor, which means that if you want to strap in, say, a single crate and you only have one tie, it can be a problem. Some of the rival panel vans now have additional eyes halfway up the side of the load area, which is much better in our view.
- Of 200 Ford dealers across the UK you’ll only be able to buy a Transit at one of the 110 new van centres. Great of you live near one but frustrating if you are out in the sticks and your local Ford bloke doesn’t do vans.
- Finally wouldn’t it be great if Ford was to build a few “specials” for the UK market with that American V6 fire-breather under the bonnet? We asked if they’d be doing so and the answer was a resounding: “No!”
Business Vans verdict
Ford has finally produced the first ever heavy panel van that actually drives like a car. It’s capacious, easy to drive, and easy on costs.
Transit has been the UK’s best-selling van for 48 years now and with this new model on offer we can safely assume it’ll still be No 1 in another 48.
Backbone of business? You bet.
What you need to know
|On the road price ex VAT (as tested):||£28,495|
|Load width (max):||1784mm|
|Load height (max):||2025mm|
|Load capacity:||12.4 cu m|
|Towing capacity braked/unbraked:||2800kg/750kg|
|Engine:||2.2-litre 4-cyl turbodiesel|