First things first, let’s get some facts out there… Despite its appearance and the American manufacturer’s badge, this van isn’t actually American at all.
It has, however, been designed with the American buyer in mind – just look at that brash grille if you are in doubt – but it comes with an engine that has been designed, engineered and manufactured at the Ford’s increasingly prosperous Dagenham factory and a body penned by designers working for Ford in the UK and Europe. Admittedly the Transit is no longer made in the
UK, a bitter pill to swallow for some, but our loss is Turkey’s gain and the net result is a van the working man can still afford.
While this is the next generation of Transit van for the UK, this Transit is also replacing the Ford E-Series, a vehicle as every bit as iconic on the star spangled side of the Atlantic as the half century old van is here – and in a market far greater than our own. That makes it a massively important vehicle for Ford, and every effort has gone in to making it as best as they can.
One thing still in keeping with the Transit of old is its versatility, which has long been the key to the Transit’s success, and the new model line-up has no less than 450 variants. There are an impressive seven different nominal gross vehicle weights between 2.9 tonnes and 4.7 tonnes, giving a payload range of 898kg to 2,281kg. The four body lengths and three roof heights offer load volumes from 9.6m³ up to 15.1m³. Expect a payload of between 1,100kg and 1,300kg on the core 3.5 tonne GVW models.
A single engine powers all these permutation, the reputable 2.2-litre Duratorq diesel, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Driveline variety comes in the shape of three different configurations (FWD, RWD, AWD) and three power ratings.
The Transit is available from the factory as a panel van, kombi, minibus or chassis cab, and Ford also offers conversions as part of the One Stop range with tipper, curtainsider and dropside models produced by VFS in Southampton.
Replacing the Transit with a radical new look was always going to cause a stir, but the numbers speak volumes in its favour. The Transit is cheaper to run, cheaper to repair and can carry more. Using a dedicated heavy duty van chassis, as opposed to an enlarged medium van chassis, increases its durability and ruggedness but at the expense of the vehicle weight carrying capacity. If payload is a priority over volume, buyers should consider the larger medium-sized vans on the market as an alternative to this particular Transit, but for larger load volumes the Transit range is on average 10% more voluminous than its predecessor.
Serious improvements have been made to the cabin, with a spacious and high quality interior which now easily accommodates three adults in comfort. While some may question the sanity of those who say they enjoy driving their van, the Transit is as enjoyable a drive as you will find in the large van sector.
The lack of an automatic or semi-automatic transmission may cost Ford a few sales, but choice in the driveline package, with its three power ratings from the 2.2-litre diesel engine, is first rate.
Safety and total cost of ownership have both been improved in the Transit, and owners can expect a small reduction in incidental costs alongside significant savings in fuel consumption. It’s not a British Bulldog any longer, but it’s far from being an angry pitbull without a clue. Coupled with an increase in load volume and respectable payloads in larger vans, the Transit (thankfully) remains a sensible and practical choice for any job requiring a van.