First drive: Ford Transit Connect 1.6 95bhp L1 van review



Data from MaintBook, the industry’s authority on SMR costs, suggests that, like-for-like, the Connect has a 13% lower fuel and SMR cost than the Volkswagen Caddy and 15% lower than the Citroën Berlingo/Peugeot Partner.

Residuals over four years/80,000 miles are 26% for the 1.6 95bhp Duratorq L1, up from 21% for the outgoing model. Caddy is around 25% in comparison.

A strong financial argument, then, although the jury is still out on just how much difference the improvements will make.

Ford has also strived to produce a vehicle that will meet with drivers’ approval. Transit Connect is a good-looking van, with several styling features lifted from Ford’s car range.

The range starts with a low cost Base derivative, expected to be most popular among corporate customers, rising through Trend to Limited. The ‘no-frills’ Base option includes electronic stability control as standard.

Ford’s Active CitySafe system, which brakes the van to standstill below 20mph if it detects an impending crash, is available as an option.

Hollins says a number of larger fleets are considering it; he believes lower insurance premiums can be negotiated as a result.

Behind the wheel

We tested the 1.6-litre 95bhp, 170lb-ft Duratorq engine with a block of wood equivalent to half the payload in the back. Capable of 64.2mpg, during our test it hovered just below 50mpg without too much effort.

Mid-range performance was decent, but pick up from low speeds in higher gears was ponderous.

The ride was excellent (the chassis is based on the C-Max/Kuga platform), with minimal body roll in corners although the pre-production passenger seats were overly firm. Ford says this has been addressed before deliveries started this month.

Tweaks to the cruise control functionality means that, whereas previously the ‘resume’ system would use maximum power and torque to get the van back up to speed after slowing down, now acceleration is steadier.

This improves fuel efficiency.

Driving dynamics impressed; employees could have few gripes about racking up the miles in this van.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.