Ford Transit T300 Trend, 2.2 TDCi, MWB, Medium Roof, Double Cab in Van ….
Over the past 12 months, I have been using a Ford Transit as regular transport, often in preference to other non-LCVs which were available and regarded as more socially acceptable by the wife! I have attended events from Newark and Newbridge to Birmingham and Buxton, delighting in the perverse pleasure of parking the Medium roofed van amidst a sea of executive chrome tipped saloons on expensive wheels. But the good times have gone, Ford has reclaimed their van.
When people ask why I prefer travelling long distances, and even short ones, in the Ford Transit, it’s easy to explain even if they remain incredulous afterwards. First of all, it has the best driver’s seat in the business. I once drove to Southampton and back virtually non-stop from Glasgow stopping only for fuel, and although stiff at the end of each trip, I wasn’t sore. Unlike the same trip conducted in a similarly sized German built van!
I still remember that trip. Vividly. My bum was sore after an hour, and I was forced to stop after two hours, thereafter stopping hourly to allow the blood to seep back into my numb cheeks. That trip seemed to take forever. It was all down to the amount of ‘cushion’ in the seat. And yes I know there are other drivers who swear by these seats, but I was swearing at them.
In a similar vein, I know of a few other drivers who don’t like the Transit seats, but they all share one trait, they are quite lean and skinny. So maybe it’s a size issue, but for those of us who prefer caravans in lay-bys to lettuce leaves in bistros, the Transit has a better seat. And a better driving position.
Secondly it’s as quick as anything else on the road. That usually raises eyebrows. But it’s true. At 70 mph on the Motorway it’s as fast as anyone else observing the speed limit. No doubt some of the baseball hats will point out that vans are subject to different speeds limits on other roads, but given the state of Britain’s road surfaces and the density of traffic these days, that argument doesn’t wash either.
Sheer economics and budget restraints reduced the number of physical miles travelled this year compared to past years, but even so, the Transit covered 8820 miles on jourmalistic duty. When collected at Heathrow 12 months ago, it had just 28 miles showing on the odometer.
During that time it consumed 1200.47 litres of diesel, costing a total of £1681.13. That equates to a fuel consumption of 8.43 ltrs per 100 kms, or 33.5 miles per gallon. Now bear in mind this was a medium wheelbase, medium roof T300 with the 115 PS engine, and I was quite pleased with that. Even more encouraging was that latterly, with the engine well and truly run in it was averaging 35.3 mpg just prior to handing it back. That compares with just over 32 mpg when it was new.
At 5,000 miles I topped up the oil level with a quarter litre of oil, and other than checking the tyres and the windscreen washer bottle, that was it.
The year before this current van I was driving a 140 hp, 2.4 litre TDCi RWD version of the same van, and while the latest FWD, 2.2 litre TDCi Euro-4 unit (Euro-5 now available in 2012 model year) lacked a little bit of oomph when overtaking on country roads, the performance was entirely acceptable. And the improved fuel economy even more so!
Another notable feature was the improved silence inside the cab. At start-up, it was still unmistakably diesel, but on the move, in-cab sound levels had been decreased. In the previous van, with the same Ford sound system, the volume level was set at 14 when listening to the cricket commentary, but in this latest van, 12 was quite sufficient.
In many cases, it’s the little things that make the difference. This being the Trend specification model, there was no air conditioning, but it wasn’t needed. The aerodynamics of the van are so effective that driving with the window down is remarkably draught free, and with elbow perched on the sill who could want anything more.
The electrically heated windscreen which is now standard on Transits is an absolute boon, especially on frosty mornings. There is little better than sitting smugly in the van on the heated driver’s seat waiting for the electrically heated windscreen to clear while watching the neighbours spraying and scraping their assorted carriages.
In cab-storage is excellent in the Transit, especially that fold-down tray in the centre dash-top. As far as I’m concerned, a little bit of inspired genius. It was in regular use.
It also goes without saying that after nearly fifty years of constant refinement, the Transit’s road manners are quite impeccable. It’s a treat to drive and another reason for leaving the car behind and going off in the van. If I was being hypercritical I would like a firmer brake pedal and an adjustable steering column, otherwise the commanding driving position is pretty near perfect for a six footer.
And the icing on the cake? A leather rimmed steering wheel. In a van. Sublime.
However, the biggest regret of all is that the van has now been returned to Ford. This was the seventh successive Ford Transit that I have run on long term appraisal, and whilst some folk might accuse me of bias, I prefer to think that it made me a fairer judge of all vans driven.
The 1965 Ford Transit was a revelation and it has been setting standards ever since. For sure, rivals have caught up and sometimes surpassed it, but only until the next model or next facelift. But in my particular case, ‘The King’ really has left the building.
Now, where did I put that bus pass?