Long-term: Ford Transit Econetic

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Other manufacturers may trumpet about how good their panel vans are, but if sales volumes are anything to go by, the Ford Transit is the undisputed king of vans.

It’s been Britain’s top seller for 35 years now and looks like carrying on that way for another 35.

To be fair the figures are slightly skewed because whereas, say, Volkswagen has a medium panel van (Transporter) and large panel van (Crafter), the Transit cuts across both sectors, offering gross vehicle weights from 2.6 tonnes to 4.5 tonnes.

But even allowing for this, Transit still tops them all and we are looking forward to living with Ford’s finest for the next six months.

Our test model is the Econetic in short wheelbase format which, to readers who don’t know, means this van will sit comfortably on my driveway, unlike some previous test models we’ve had!

The Econetic is a low roof 2.8 tonne gvw model with a 2.2-litre 115bhp engine. It’s officially Euro V compliant (the only one in the range which is at present) but as other Euro V engines come on song this summer we are hoping to swap for a different Transit so that we can compare notes.

So what does the Econetic have to give it this moniker that the others don’t?

The engine has been re-calibrated and a standard speed limiter has been introduced. With this device in place, the top speed of the Econetic is 70mph.

To prevent potential manipulation of the limiter unit, it has been hard-coded.

Longer gearing has been achieved through fitting a 4.36 final drive ratio.

Larger 16-inch steel wheels with 215/75 R16 lower rolling resistance tyres are used, while a full-size spare wheel cover is fitted to help reduce aerodynamic drag.

The larger wheel diameter also leads to a reduction in engine rev levels at all speeds.

Engineering for the new model includes reducing the availability of the heaviest options such as a second sliding door.

Fuel economy is 39.2 mpg, an increase of 13% over the standard model, while average CO2 emissions are 189g/km.

In addition to the standard spec, Ford has also added ply-lining to the rear – a must in our book – followed by that all-important rear parking sensor.

If you haven’t cottoned on to this marvellous gadget yet then I suggest you look into it, as for around £200 these sensors will save you that amount of money and more the first time one of your drivers doesn’t back into a solid object!

We’ve also got air-con which we are looking forward to using this summer (hopefully) although a sat-nav system is sadly missing.

I always used to pooh-pooh the value of sat-navs until I drove our last long-termer which had a TomTom unit fitted.

I fell in love with this gizmo to such an extent that I am going to buy one as I don’t like being without any more.

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.

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