What is it?
In case you hadn’t noticed, Ford – Britain’s number one seller of vans since the year dot – is currently in the middle of a massive programme in which it is replacing every one of its commercial vehicles in the space of two years.
And we’re not just talking about minor upgrades and new grilles.
This rather costly exercise involves complete new vehicles from the nuts and bolts upwards that promise a brave new world of better durability, lower running costs and more car-like drivability from its vans.
Which of course is great news for all you trades people and SMEs out there. Not such good news if you are one of the rival manufacturers who will be struggling to compete!
So far, we’ve seen a new Fiestavan and a fresh Ranger, both of which have been warmly received.
Then earlier this year saw the arrival of the new Transit, labelled the Custom, and the latest kid on the Blue Oval block is the Ford Transit Connect, which is now on sale.
Next year Ford will launch a city van called the Courier and a new and mighty 2 tonne van that’ll just be called the Transit, thus completing the programme. The graphic makes all clear.
So far the Ford Transit Custom has won the title of International Van of the Year for 2013 – and we’ve just heard that the Ford Transit Connect has clinched the title for 2014. So from that, you can gather that both of these vans are serious pieces of new kit.
Even the thirstiest Ford Transit Connect manages a tad over 50mpg while the ECOnetic returns an astonishing 70mpg.
The Connect was originally launched in 2002 and without being too harsh, it never really caught the imagination of business users. It was too truck-like and chunky for starters, which made it rather more expensive to buy and run against rivals such as the Citroen Berlingo. And it was plug ugly too!
The new Ford Transit Connect resolves all the issues that dogged the old van. It is offered in two wheelbases – short and long (L1 and L2 in Ford-speak) – and there will also be a double-cab (cab-in-van to use more Ford speak) version. Prices range from £13,150 to £17,250 ex-VAT.
Load volumes go from 2.9 cubic metres to 4.4 cu m, thanks to a clever fold-down passenger seat. Meanwhile there’s a lift-up flap in the bulkhead behind the passenger seat so that long loads such as planks of wood or pipes can be poked through, giving a total load length of 3.4 metres (L2).
Meanwhile payloads go up to 1000kg and two Euro pallets can be carried on both long and short wheelbase versions. The longer variant can carry 8x4ft sheets of board.
The Ford Transit Connect now offers a three-seat option to rival the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner.