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Ford_Transit_review
Bold new front end is the first sign of the extent of the changes that Ford has made with the new Transit

 

Ford Transit L3 H2 ECOnetic FWD

What is it?

Ford  has surpassed itself with new Transit.

It’s available in a mind-boggling number of models – 450 in total – in panel van, chassis cab and minibus variants, with GVM (gross vehicle mass – the weight of the van plus load) from 2.9 to 4.7-tonnes, as well as front-, rear- and all-wheel-drive, with 100hp, 125hp and 155hp engine outputs.

There are two wheelbases, three body lengths and two roof heights, offering a load volume of up to 15.1m3. Van versions have two or three seats and double-cab-in-van versions six or seven seats.

All Transits have six-speed manual gearboxes.

Ford_Transit_review
The wide, wrap-round body mouldings will protect the Transit from scrapes, and make repairs cheaper too

We defy any business not to find the right model from this impressive range.

We recently drove an ECOnetic 125hp version with front-wheel-drive in L3 H2 form. In common with the rest of the new Transit range, it looks terrific and  features the same dramatic styling, albeit with a more aggressive front grille than its smaller stablemates – possibly a concession to the fact that this model is to be sold in America for the first time.

The design also features wide body mouldings that not only enhance the styling but keep repair costs down should they be damaged and need replacement. The large raked windscreen and slick headlamps add to the aerodynamic appearance.

The new Transit was designed, engineered and tested in the UK at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre.

Ford_Transit_review
The cab is car-like for comfort and connectivity but with added ‘mobile office’ features including a fold out table at the passenger seat

 

What’s it like inside

The cab is a delight. I drove and rode as a passenger and the seating for all is comfortable and supportive. Behind the wheel, finding the right driving position is easy with the steering column adjustable for rake and reach and the driver’s seat offering eight-way adjustment.

Compared with the outgoing model, the new Transit offers improved seat travel and headroom. There’s also more legroom for passengers. And the large windscreen has greatly improved visibility.

The controls and instruments are common across the Transit range and would be familiar to modern Ford car owners, too. Well laid out with easy-to-read instruments, and a well-positioned gearshift all adds to the agreeable driving experience.

Standard interior features include a radio with AUX, Bluetooth, USB/iPod connect and remote controls, electrically operated windows, courtesy lights with ‘theatre dimming’, remote central locking, trip computer, and ‘easy-clean’ rubber flooring.

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Masses of storage too, like these overhead compartments

There’s plenty of storage available with overhead compartments, an under-seat stowage compartment beneath the dual passenger seat and cup/bottle holders in door pockets and on the dash. The passenger seat also has a fold-out table. The cab is separated from the load area by a full-height steel bulkhead.

The 2.2-litre 125hp Duratorq TDCi engine produces a decent helping of torque at 350Nm. There’s bags of zip yet the ECOnetic version does 40.9mpg (officially) with emissions of 179g/km. The new ECOnetic model has improved fuel consumption by 6% over the previous ECOnetic version.

The ECOnetic technology includes a very efficient Auto-Stop-Start as well as Smart Regenerative Charging, a gearshift indicator light, acceleration control, and a battery management system said to improve battery life and fuel consumption.

Ford engineers also spent a great of of time tuning the new Transit’s dynamics. The steering is delightfully precise and the ride and handling are astonishingly good. It simply is akin to driving a sizeable car.

It’s also notably quiet and it’s hard to imagine spending the working day behind the wheel would ever be a chore.

Our test vehicle was a base model but ESC/ABS and Hill Start Assist are standard, as is Curve Control, which detects when the van is cornering too fast and provides stability using four-wheel smart braking to reduce speed by up to 10mph in one second.

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The doors are bigger all round – with the sliding side door a class leading 1300mm wide. Just as well because you can fit 4 Europallets in here now

The load area

As for the important business of load lugging, our L3 H2 model offers 1886mm load height and load width of max load width 1784mm and load length of  3040mm  with a 1497kg payload.

Model for model, new Transit offers 10% more load volume than the previous version, with standing headroom also improved.

And door openings are also larger so the side door is now class leading at 1300mm wide for example, while the rear door height has been increased by 80mm, and width by 25mm.

Lighting in the load area has been greatly improved with the use of LEDs. What’s more, all the tie-down rings are wall mounted, keeping the floor clear. The floor itself is surfaced in ‘easy-clean’ plastic, which extends 100mm up the side walls.

Running costs have also been reduced compared with the previous model with extended service intervals at two years/30,000 miles, a major reduction in scheduled maintenance times, down from 5.4 hours to 4.2 hours over 150,000km (93,206 miles).

Every Transit comes with a three-year/100,000-mile warranty, Ford assistance package with load continuation so cargo is delivered in the event of a breakdown before the vehicle is repaired, and free Fleet Accident Management service for all business customers.

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Everything about the load area has been improved, with LED lighting, side-mounted tie-down rings, and plastic lining

 

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Business van managers will love the extended service intervals – up to 2 years or 30,000 miles

What’s hot?

  • It looks the business – the new Transit range styling is carried through but with ‘attitude’ although it might not appeal to everyone.
  • Mind-boggling model line-up to suit all needs.
  • Cab is excellent – comfortable, quiet and well equipped with improved head and legroom.
  • Great driving position with excellent visibility.
  • It’s great to drive, too, with car-like steering, taut handling and remarkably good ride.
  • Good stowage with overhead compartments, large under-seat load box and plenty of holders for cups and bottles.
  • The 125hp power unit has plenty of oomph and is smooth and quiet – ECOnetic model has improved on frugality of previous version by 6%.
  • Increased service intervals and reduced maintenance costs should also save you money.
  • Load area access is made easier with taller and wider doors both at the side and rear.
  • And improvements to the cargo bay include LED lighting, wall-mounted cargo tie-down rings, keeping floor clear, as well as an ‘easy-clean’ floor surface.

 

What’s not?

  • Frankly, not much. The styling, and particularly the aggressive front grille, might not be to everyone’s taste.

 

32_Ford_Transit_review_
There’s nothing to suggest that the new Transit won’t stay Britain’s best-selling van

Business Vans’ verdict

The Transit is a tremendously important vehicle for Ford and there’s no way the company was going to be half-hearted about the all-new model.

Most production – 80% – will go to big organisations, but that still leaves a significant number that will be used by smaller businesses and tradespeople.

All will find significant improvements from the outside to the inside and in the power units. With running costs also set to come down compared with the outgoing model, Britain’s number one selling van for the past 49 years, will very likely retain its crown for a long time yet.

 

What you need to know

On the road price ex VAT (as tested):£27,075
Load length:3040mm
Load width (max):1784mm
Load height (max):1886mm
Load capacity:10m3
Payload:1497kg
GVW:2932kg
Towing capacity braked/unbraked:2800kg/750kg
Engine:2.2-litre 4-cyl turbodiesel
Power/Torque:125hp/350Nm
Economy (combined):40.9mpg
CO2 emissions:179g/km

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