Behind the wheel
Because the AWD doesn’t look any different from a standard Transit, it’s easy to think that it isn’t really a pukka off-roader. Indeed it was never meant to be one, but simply a vehicle that wouldn’t get bogged down in a muddy building site or in a field.
But you’d be wrong making assumptions.
When the first AWDs were built recently, even Ford’s own testers were taken aback at how far they could be pushed.
Having spent a morning yahooing around on an off-road course near the Henry Ford College at Loughborough I can state categorically that this Transit will take a lot more than any fleet will ever throw at it.
The course had been churned up to a thick soup by heavy bouts of rain and to make things more interesting, a bunch of Ford dealers had already had their turn, leaving an array of foot deep ruts and dislodged railway sleepers for us to stumble over.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an expert off-roader but with a professional driver on hand to advise me about gearchanging and accelerator dabbing, I finally managed the course without mishap.
My expert then took me up the hard part of the course (see the picture right) and I was left hugely impressed as our Transit handled it all with the utmost aplomb.
One of the problems that manifested itself was that because the Transit is much higher than the average off-roader, it will tilt over at a greater angle, leaving it prone to scuffs and scratches at the top.
It’s not a fault with the vehicle but merely an unavaoidable reality which any all-wheel drive van suffers from.
But it’s a small price to pay for the extra practicality that this van offers over a more usual off-roader.
One of the other big bonuses with a vehicle like this is that despite its off-road capabilities, you can still carry 10 cubic metres or so of cargo.
At present many fleets opt for 4x4s such as the Nissan Navara but with trucks like this, cargo space is severely limited.
In its quest to provide a van for all fleets, Ford has come up with a dazzling vehicle that really will do the business and more for companies that need a mud-plugger.
We’re impressed and we bet that so will any van fleet operator who buys this new Transit model.