With both Transit Custom and now Transit Connect picking up International Van of the Year gongs, the pressure for Ford’s big Transit to succeed has never been stronger. Add in 48 years of UK market leadership and the realisation that this version of Transit is going to have to compete across the world, and you can see why Ford had everything crossed as we finally got to drive its heavyweight LCV.
We’ve seen the big Transit at shows for some time now of course, so it was good to get behind the wheel at last. The cab is a familiar place to be too, sharing much of its layout and appearance with the smaller Transit Custom. You finally get an adjustable steering column with this generation, so it’s even easier to find a comfortable driving position, while in Trend trim the cab is well equipped. That includes a heated windscreen, heated mirrors, auto lights and wipers, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, electric windows and Ford’s SYNC audio system.
There are familiar engines under the bonnet, with three updated version of Ford’s 2.2-litre Duratorq diesel offering 100hp, 125hp and 155hp. All drive through six-speed manual gearboxes and Transit comes with a choice of front, rear and all-wheel drive. There is a £500 jump between 100hp and 125hp engines, with a further £750 to pay for the 155hp motor. Going to AWD will set you back around £4,000.
Though not required by legislation yet, buyers can also opt for Euro 6 versions of the two more powerful engines in rear-drive format. This carries an £850 premium however. Euro 6 is standard on the new 18-seat minibus, as its higher unladen weight tips the van into the heavy duty test cycle.
Ford is offering six versions of its fuel-efficient ECOnetic model this time around, with gross weights up to 3.5 tonnes. These vans all come with a modified version of the 125hp engine, with Auto-Start-Stop and Acceleration Control as part of the package. The benefits are a claimed 44.1mpg and 169g/km of CO2.
We tried both front and rear-drive models, with 125hp and 155hp engines. The revised 2.2-litre motor pulls well and offers a quiet, refined driving experience. There is plenty of low-down torque for trickling through traffic and on the open road the big van is happy to cruise at motorway speeds.
Even the largest L4H3 Jumbo model, which now delivers a 15.1m3 load volume, is easy to thread through traffic, with light steering and excellent visibility. Talking of load areas, all models offer at least 10% more internal volume, thanks to much more upright body sides and careful bulkhead design. Side load doors now get a 1,300mm opening width, making it easier to access the load area with a forklift and palleted goods.
All panel vans now come with a high-grip step built into the rear bumper too, making it easier for delivery drivers to gain regular access and providing Ford with a class-leading step height.
Transit is available in three body lengths with two roof heights, while chassis cabs come in four wheelbases and five frame lengths. There are also three minibus options, offering seating for 12, 15 or 18 people.
What we think
Ford has obviously put the hours in to ensure that the Transit success story continues in the UK. The challenge now is convincing the rest of the world.
MODEL Ford Transit 155PS RWDL4H3 Trend
BASIC PRICE £30,870
FUEL INJECTION Common-rail
POWER 155hp @ 3,500rpm
TORQUE 385Nm @1,600-2,300rpm
KERB WEIGHT 2,312
MAX TRAILER WEIGHT 2,800
LOAD SPACE LENGTH 4,256
LOAD SPACE WIDTH 1,784
LOAD SPACE HEIGHT 2,025
LOAD HEIGHT (unladen) 710
LOAD VOLUME 15.1m3
FUEL TANK CAPACITY 80 litres
COMBINED MPG & CO2 36.2mpg/210g/km
OIL CHANGE 2 yr/30,000 miles
WARRANTY 3 yr/100,000 miles