Just how sexy can a panel van get? Not much more than this, I reckoned after a week with the dazzling Ford Transit Sportvan.
The jazzy white stripes on the front shout ‘don’t mess with me’.
The alloy wheels clad in low profile 235/45 tyres scream ‘look at me’. We were only surprised that there weren’t flaming wheelarches on offer as a paid-for extra.
It’s a powerful package. For £18,750 ex-VAT, you get a standard front and rear spoilers and side skirts, 18in alloys and low profile tyres, mean-looking twin exhaust pipes, a unique colour (performance blue) and ‘go faster’ white stripes on the front.
Inside, air-con comes as part of the package, along with cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a CD/radio with steering column-mounted controls and remote central locking which opens the front and rear separately.
On the safety front the Sportvan gets driver and passenger airbags, ABS
brakes, ESP traction control and a Quickclear front windscreen.
It all sounds more like the spec sheet from a Mercedes-Benz car than a Ford van.
Our test model also had leather seats which add another £750 to the price.
Under the bonnet goes Ford’s 2.2-litre 130bhp TDCi diesel engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.
But what makes the van feel extra lively is the 228 lb-ft of torque which gives it an amazing amount of grunt on the road.
Behind the wheel
You will find, if you ever meet a journalist, that most of us are pretty ‘full-on’ characters.
I’m a 55-going-on-17 kind of guy and as such I fell in love with this van at first sight.
I wasn’t the only one to be impressed either.
As I drew up at a double junction on the first day of my test week, a driver in a battered Vauxhall Movano pulled up alongside me and yelled: ‘nice one, mate!’ at me through our open side screens, assuming I suspect that this was a natty custom job rather than an off-the-shelf variant.
That’s something that’s never happened to me before.
The Sportvan is a questionable vehicle for fleets – it is aimed more at the owner-driver who wants to give himself a treat.
But there is a place for it in any company that wants a high-profile vehicle. If people stop and stare at this van, they’ll be staring at your company decals too, offering a nice bit of free advertising.
Or how’s this for an innovative idea to get your drivers working well – take on one Transit Sportvan among your fleet and offer it for driving as a ‘prize’ for a week to the most productive employee.
Just imagine how their work may suddenly improve if they get the chance to swop their bog standard models for this one for a time.