When Ford ditched the old Courier van back in 2002, to be replaced by the bigger Transit Connect, many pundits questioned the strategy, fearing that the blue oval was leaving itself with a gap in its product range, which would be happily filled by rival manufacturers.
Fast forward to 2014 and the gap was finally plugged with a brand new Courier, this time bearing the Transit moniker.
This year, Ford is busy expanding the models on offer in the sector and the latest is this natty little five-seater Kombi, which is one of those crossbreed car/van variants that are beginning to come to market.
Priced at £15,644 ex-VAT, the Kombi is powered by a 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine offering 75hp and a creditable combined fuel economy figure of 68.9mpg. Seating for five makes this van incredibly versatile for fleets but the fact that it has windows in the side means that VAT can’t be claimed back unless it is used solely for business purposes.
The cab will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has driven a Ford. It feels much bigger than it really is, thanks to a windscreen that is pushed right forward. Sitting in the driver’s seat, which is wonderfully supportive and offers plenty of legroom, it feels as though there is a room for a pool table on the dash. There’s an overhead shelf and two coffee cup holders but, sadly, unlike its bigger brothers, the Courier doesn’t have a 12-volt take-off on top of the dash so, if you plug in a sat-nav, there will be wires trailing.
It’s in the back of the van where the most interesting features can be found.
There is a surprising amount of legroom, even for rear-seat passengers, and when the seats aren’t needed they can be folded down in a 60/40 arrangement, or removed altogether. But, while this offers practicality, removing the seats isn’t exactly an easy job.
The rear is accessed by twin side sliding doors and there are also asymetric ‘barn doors’ at the rear. With the seats up, the van offers one cubic metre of loadspace, rising to 1.9 cu m with the seats folded. The rear also features a wipe-clean plastic load floor and half-height plastic protection.
Our van also had metallic paint at £360, roof rails at £180 and a Quickclear windscreen at £120. Air-con was a £480 option. With all extras, the van’s price shoots up to £17,706 ex-VAT.
Mind you, even in base spec it isn’t badly equipped, with remote locking, digital radio with Bluetooth and USB, driver and passenger rake and reach adjustable seats, hill launch assist, trailer sway control, roll-over mitigation, front, side and curtain airbags and a tyre pressure monitoring system as standard.
As with Ford’s other new Transits, the Courier has superb build quality, lively engine response and pin-sharp handling. Each one of the four Transit models on offer has propelled Ford right into the premium van sector and fleets have responded by buying them in droves, as demonstrated by Ford’s van sales up 37% so far this year.