As the summer months drifted by, our trusty long-termer was called upon to fulfil a variety of roles – furniture removals, a place to sleep in at two music festivals and transport for the annual Gelken holiday, which this year was to the Lake District.
As most of you will already know, the Lake District tends to be very wet (which it was) and very hilly (which it was again, despite the fact that I hadn’t been there for nigh on 25 years).
So what with a 250-mile trip along the M6 to actually get there and a few days driving around the area’s more inaccessible regions, we reckon we gave the Transit a pretty good work-out.
And you know what – not once did this van give me cause for concern, even when we purposely took the most awkward routes.
All Transits have as standard ABS brakes and ESC stability control systems and on several occasions both kicked in as we encountered the usual array of kamikaze drivers with caravans coming the other way who, as they don’t seem to have a clue as to the width of their vehicles, place themselves right in the middle of the road just to be on the ‘safe’ side.
I did baulk at crossing the Hardknot Pass but on the nearby road that crosses Furness Fells I could have sworn that our van magically took on the mantle of a mountain goat as it scrambled gamely up and down some pretty hairy slopes.
When we arrived back home, there was another pleasant surprise in store. I’ve been keeping a close watch on the van’s fuel consumption figure and up until now was slightly disappointed that we were only getting 35mpg, as opposed to the official figure of 39.2mpg.
Well, on that trip – despite all the mountain-climbing shenanigans – our van knocked up a very creditable 38.53mpg.
This may have something to do with my more relaxed driving style thanks to the 70mph speed limiter and it may also be proof of the engine loosening up, but I reckon that magic 40mpg could be reached by the time we hand the Transit back to Ford.
Regular readers will know that I have often criticised the official fuel economy figures because they are calibrated with the vans empty and on a rolling road in a nice warm shed.
That way, a high-roof van will have the same mpg as a low-roof one, which we all know is nonsense in real life.
With this in mind I have always said that on the road with a load on board it is going to be nigh on impossible to match the official figures and have therefore questioned what use they are. But with this latest experience I’m going to have to eat my words.
The idea with our long-termer is that we are going to swap it with one of Ford’s new range of Euro V compliant Transits when they are finally launched later this year (this van is the only Euro V Transit available at present).
And when that new vehicle arrives it will be interesting to discover whether or not it can match – or indeed surpass – this Econetic model.
The result of my little trip was that I now hold the Transit in even greater esteem than I did before, even against a crop of very fine performers.
I asked a van fleet manager once why he thought the Transit was still such a successful van against all the superb newcomers and he told me: “No-one ever got the sack for buying Transits.”