With experts warning about the health risks associated with ever-increasing amounts of noxious gases being emitted by diesel engines and with London mayor Boris Johnson almost declaring outright war on heavy oil powerplants, what better time could there be for Ford to launch a new petrol-powered van?
Petrol has almost disappeared as a means of driving Britain’s light commercial vehicles. But while diesel is undoubtedly the fuel of choice at the heavy end of the market, Ford’s perky little 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine makes financial as well as environmental sense for fleets in lighter vans which only cover small distances.
The petrol version is some £800 cheaper to buy than the equivalent diesel and although it is only slated to return 54mpg on the combined cycle compared with 70mpg for the diesel, petrol is cheaper to buy. The tipping point comes at around 40,000 miles. Anything over that and the diesel starts winning in financial terms, albeit pumping out more NOx and particulates than its petrol brother.
The Courier may be a lightweight van but there is certainly nothing lightweight about its build quality. It has a premium quality feel, with heavy doors which close with a very satisfying ‘thwunk’.
Inside, the cab is big and there is plenty of legroom for driver and passenger. The seats are huge, hugging the figure from neck to knee. There is plenty of lumbar support in the driver’s seat too, which alleviates any back twinges on long journeys.
Meanwhile there are two coffee cup holders in the central console and digital radio with USB port while Bluetooth connectivity is standard. Unusually nowadays, there is also a slot for a CD.
Also standard is an overhead parcel shelf and a secret drawer that pulls out from under the driver’s seat. I can’t think of another van of this size that can hold so much in the front end.
The petrol engine gives plenty of power and it is very quiet. However, our test model had a mesh bulkhead, which allowed a fair amount of noise from the cargo area, which rather spoiled things. To be fair, the reason for the mesh was that our van had the folding passenger seat and swivelling bulkhead, which allows for loads of up to 2,591mm to be carried – that’s 8ft 4in in old money. It’s a great addition but comes at a cost of £200. Standard versions get the full steel bulkhead, which makes the van a calm, quiet place to be on the roads.