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Ford_Transit_Connect_review
Here’s the short-wheelbase version which we’ve driven with Ford’s 3-cylinder Econetic engine

Ford Transit Connect 1.0 litre Trend SWB and 1.6 TDCi LWB

What is it?

Ford has been busy.

The entire Transit van range is in the process of being re-invented, starting last year with the Transit Custom, then the Transit Connect, and most recently the straight Ford Transit, the biggest of the bunch. The Transit Courier city van is yet to arrive.

The new Connect is nothing like the old Connect

We first drove the Ford Transit Connect at the launch last October (click here for the review) and now we’ve taken a closer look at two of the extensive range.

Does the replacement for the original Connect introduced in 2002 match up to its bigger sisters?

In a word, yes!

Three trim levels – Base, Trend and Limited – are available. Business Vans recently drove the 1.0 short-wheelbase Econetic petrol model and the 1.6 Duratorq TDCi 95hp five-speed manual long-wheelbase model, both in Trend spec. This 1.6-litre Duratorq engine is available with a choice of 75, 95 and 115hp power outputs.

Ford_Transit_Connect_review
And the long wheel-base model which we tried with a 1.6 diesel

But first things first.

The new Connect is nothing like the old Connect. It’s an all-new design on a new platform. It’s got the new sexy Ford family face and as with its stablemates, the styling is bang up to the minute with streamlined front end and deeply angled front screen.

Inside, there’s a familiar Ford dash – akin to something you’d find in a C-Max or Kuga. Again, it looks modern and stylish, despite a high degree of plastic frontage. The cab is comfortable with firm, supportive seating and noise levels that are pleasingly low, even with the van unladen.

Ford_Transit_Connect_Review
Excellent access to the load area through wide-opening rear doors and a sliding side door

The controls are well designed with a pleasing chunkiness. A stubby gear lever makes ratio changes crisp, and the rake-and-reach adjustable steering wheel feels particularly good to handle.

Standard equipment levels are impressive. The Connect has a DAB radio with USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Radio controls are steering-wheel mounted. There’s also a trip computer.

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The interior is just like a Kuga or a C-Max – and very well equipped

The glove box is lockable, but the downside, the storage could be better. There’s an cab-width overhead storage shelf, and door pockets, plus two cup holders. But I couldn’t find any neat place to stash a mobile phone.

The dual passenger seat is on the narrow side for the centre passenger. It might do for a short journey at a pinch, but it’ll be cramped for two grown men. The centre seat folds to double as a twin cup holders and small ‘desk’, which is more practical.

For the driver, eight-way adjustment of the driver’s seat makes it easy to find a comfortable driving position and the visibility is good. The door mirrors, which are heated as standard, provide a great view rearward. I found the optional rear-view camera and parking aid (a £300 extra) especially effective.

Out on the road, the Connect feels solid and settled. It rides well and handles with precision. ABS, EBD and ESC are all standard. The ESC system provides Trailer Sway Assist, Hill Start Assist and Load Adaptive Control.

The 1.0 six-speed Connect Trend Ecoboost model is the first Ford van available with a petrol engine. It produces 100hp and is pleasingly quick.

The six-speed box works well, and judicious use of the ratios should help this model achieve a combined fuel consumption figure of 50.4mpg, with CO2 emissions at 129g/km.

Ford-Transit_Connect_review
The Connect will take two pallets in either SWB or LWB forms, but you can load them through the side door in the long wheelbase version

The 1.6 TDCi long-wheelbase model feels even more settled on the road than the SWB model. The larger 1.6 engine coupled with a five-speed box, actually has out a lower power output than the petrol model at 95hp, but despite the extra metal, it was just as perky as the more powerful SWB model we drove.

Both short- and long-wheelbase model get load areas equipped with a plastic floor liner, six DIN cargo tie-down rings, and 12V socket.

The test vans had optional LED load area light, brighter than standard lighting, but I’m not sure it’s bright enough to justify the extra £40.

I can’t fault the access – entry to the load area is via a single sliding side door and twin rear doors that open to 180 degrees. Both short- and long-wheelbase models can take two Euro pallets. What’s more, the long-wheelbase can take a pallet via its side door. Dual side doors are a £200 option.

Trend models come with a load-through steel bulkhead, allowing over-length loads (3.0m with the SWB and 3.4m LWB) to be carried by extending into the cab area. It’s a nifty feature which should prove useful for many tradespeople. But if you want this feature with the Base model it’ll cost an extra £250.

 

ford_Transit_Connect_review
Plastic floor liners are standard in the load areas

What’s hot?

  • Responsive engines with a range of power outputs, and even a petrol option;
  • Comfortable, quiet cab;
  • Good ride and road manners;

    Ford_Transit_Connect_review
    This feature on Trend models is very useful for carrying longer items
  • Great level of standard equipment;
  • Load area can swallow two Euro pallets;
  • LWB models can load pallets through side door;
  • Active City Stop additional safety feature available as a £250 extra;
  • 20,000-mile service intervals;
  • Three-year/100,000 mile warranty;
  • Best-in-class diesel and petrol engines – up to 70.6mpg – and for whole life costs and residual values, according to Ford;
  • Looks like a member of the Transit family.

 

What’s not?

With so much thought clearly put into new Connect, there’s not much to fault:

  • Storage could be better;
  • Centre seat on dual passenger seat more token than practical.

 

 

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Long- (in white) and short-wheelbase versions are just the start of the host of different configuration that will suit many businesses out there

Business Vans verdict

The new Ford Transit Connect has already been voted International Van of the Year 2014 – and it’s easy to see why.

In common with the Custom and Transit, Ford has transformed its light van from the ground-up. It has so much going for it, tradespeople and SMEs in the market for a van in this sector would be crazy not to give the Connect serious consideration.

It’s practical as a working tool, car-like to drive and comes in a host of configurations to suit most requirements. And its new sleek lines clearly mark it out as a member of the Transit family… you can’t fault that.

 

What you need to know

Transit Connect Trend 1.0 Six-Speed Manual SWB

On the road price ex VAT£13,921
Load length:3000mm
Load width (max):1538mm
Load height (max):1269mm
Load capacity:2.9cu m
Payload:628kg
GVW:1970kg
Towing capacity braked/unbraked:1200kg/750kg
Engine:1.0-litre 3-cyl petrol
Power/Torque:100hp/170Nm
Economy (combined):50.4mpg
CO2 emissions:129g/km

 

Transit Connect Trend 1.6 Five-Speed Manual LWB

On the road price ex VAT£16,321
Load length:3400mm
Load width (max):1538mm
Load height (max):1269mm
Load capacity:4.4 cu m
Payload:706kg
GVW:2125kg
Towing capacity braked/unbraked:1200kg/750kg
Engine:1.6-litre 4-cyl turbodiesel
Power/Torque:95hp/220Nm
Economy (combined):65.7mpg
CO2 emissions:112g/km

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