The recent death of a much-loved uncle of mine brought our long-term Ford Transit very much to the fore. He had lived alone for five years in a town centre house so after the funeral, the family members got together for the sad task of clearing out his belongings.
As you can imagine, the Transit was much in demand for this job and proved ideal. It is the smallest Transit you can buy, so we managed to winkle it into the tight parking spaces in his street with no problem.
But that doesn’t mean to say that rearward space was at a premium. I managed to get a three-piece suite, a fridge, washing machine and freezer in at one go, together with a load of other bits and pieces squeezed into the left-over spaces, much to the amazement of my other family members.
My cousin drove the van and after the first trip he was positively glowing with praise. He hadn’t driven a commercial vehicle for the past 15 years and just couldn’t get over what a quiet, smooth ride our Transit gives.
“Amazing – it’s just like driving a big car,” he told me, and of course that is exactly what Ford is aiming to achieve.
He was even more amazed when I told him about the safety features that come as standard in the Transit – ABS brakes, ESC stability control et al. He had mistakenly thought that such gizmos were only found in cars.
Mind you, before we get too carried away with praise for this van, don’t forget that there is an all-new Transit on the way later this year (see details in the CV Show coverage on page 23). The engines will largely be carried over from this model and that’s no bad thing as they have recently been upgraded to Euro5, with more power, lower emissions and better fuel economy.
Which brings me to the only area in which this van hasn’t exactly shone.
As the Econetic model (Ford’s brand for its most efficient cars and vans), it has a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 43.2mpg, but so far we have not managed to get above 38.3mpg.
I do realise that official figures are highly unlikely to be matched on the road as they are calibrated in a nice warm shed with no wind blowing, no cargo onboard and on a rolling road.
But we were hoping for a little better than our test figure, especially as recently we had a Trimble “traffic light” device fitted which warns the driver of bad behaviour and as such I was taking particular care, knowing that someone at Trimble HQ was keeping an eye on what I was getting up to.
However, I do believe that our disappointing figure is more down to the manner in which our Transit is being used rather than any shortcomings in the vehicle itself.
This van is aimed at the urban driver who will be doing lots of stop-start journeys, which facilitate the auto-stop function on the van and thereby crank up the fuel economy figure.
Most of our trips have been long motorway hauls at 70mph and, as such, the stop-start function is hardly ever required.