… Launch Report … Ford Transit Courier …
As part of their support for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Ford Motor Company donated the use of 1,120 Focus, C-MAX, S-MAX, Galaxy and Tourneo cars and vehicles for official use and athlete transport during the Games. In actual fact there were a few more Fords about during Games week as Ford chose Scotland for its first ever UK launch of a commercial vehicle, the new Transit Courier small van.
To that end, all of the UK’s top CV and motoring journalists ad been invited to the launch of this important new vehicle. Important, because it completed the all-new range of Ford CVs. This started with a brand new mid range panel van, the Custom, then the revamped Connect compact van which was followed by the all-new ‘proper’ big Transit and now the new Courier small van.
Unlike ‘car derived’ vans of old which were basically small saloon cars with blanked out rear windows and a flat floor in place of the rear seat, this is a proper van. Although based on the Ford Fiesta platform, everything behind the ‘B’ pillar has been designed and engineered for LCV purposes.
The result is a very smart looking but also very practical small van with a sizable 2.3 cu.m loadbox which is more than double the volume it would have been had they chosen to convert the Fiesta saloon car. So although it looks like a car from the front, round the back are two asymmetric barn doors with one sliding side door on the nearside, although an additional offside sliding door is optional. The 1.62m load length can be extended to 2.59m if the fold-flat passenger seat is specified.
The van comes as standard with a steel bulkhead, but there is a ‘Seat Pack 6’ option costing £200 which includes a fold flat passenger seat and folding mesh load-through bulkhead to replace the steel unit. Also included in this pack is a storage drawer under the driver’s seat to hide small valuables.
There were two models available to drive at the launch, a 94 bhp 1.6 litre TDCi diesel and the 97 bhp 1.0 litre EcoBoost petrol engine. The petrol engine is a surprisingly perky little thing and the diesel option is no slouch either, so there is little to choose between them, apart from fuel consumption.
Using the EU test cycle figures the diesel should deliver 70 mpg on the Combined cycle compared to 54.3 for the petrol. That’s quite a difference but it should be borne in mind that real-life driving and traffic conditions can greatly affect both consumption figures. On that basis, the diesel does offer a substantial cost saving in fuel consumption, even though diesel is slightly more expensive per litre than petrol.
On the other hand, many drivers still prefer petrol engines as they tend to be quieter than diesels.
Both engines come with 5 speed gearboxes and while a six speed ‘box would further improve fuel consumption figures it’s not generally needed in this size of van. Most of these vans will spend their life on ‘courier’ duty in city and town centres, shuttling between offices and branches.
On that basis, drivers will be pleased with the amount of comfort and room for two people up front and adequate storage space for everyday essentials. There are two can/cup holders in the central console beside the handbrake, a dropdown glovebox, overhead shelf and door pockets. The top of the dashboard is also relatively flat so that when parked up, order books and newspapers can be placed on top.
Both models driven were equipped to ‘Trend’ spec and included auto headlights and front foglamps, rain sensing wipers and electric windows, plus a DAB Radio/CD with Bluetooth, USB and Ford SYNC. The steering column is adjustable for rake and reach and finished off with a leather rimmed multi-function wheel while the driver’s multi-adjustable seat has a lumbar support and armrest. There is one 12v socket in the centre of the dash and another in the loadbox. The alloy wheels are a £300 option and metallic paint adds another £300.
The starting price for both vans in ‘Trend’ spec is the same at £13,221 (excl VAT) compared to £11,700 in Base model spec. And as you would expect, this is a cracking little van to drive whether empty or fully loaded with its class leading 660 kg payload capacity. Ideal chase vehicle in fact, eh?