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Ford Transit Connect: Vans, be more car!

Our long term Transit Connect cruised its way to Buxton, but why was our driver left in the dark?

I’ll leave others to discuss the Transit Connect’s load carrying abilities, I was using the smart looking baby Ford to drive from Epsom to Buxton in the Peak District (and back) in a day. 

Having done so, I can not think of any other van that I would have preferred to have covered that sort of distance in (400-plus miles and thanks to London congestion more than seven hours behind the wheel).

Ford Transit ConnectI’ve been lucky enough to drive a number of Ford’s recent generation of vans, and have marvelled at just how car-like they now feel compared with models even a few years back. Simply put, bar the fact you only have rearward vision from your side mirrors of course, I had to keep reminding myself that I was driving a van and not the Fiesta that lends this model much of its mechanical DNA.

Road noise wasn’t intrusive by van standards, seats were comfortable and surprisingly adjustable and the driving position is pure car (although the Connect has seats for three, you wouldn’t get three adults sitting shoulder to shoulder in it – best use the fold-down seat left of the driver for stowage instead).

The engine was willing and combined with the stable chassis cruised well along the motorway, while dealing with Buxton’s rolling hills and twisting roads with aplomb (admittedly unladen). Nor did the 1.6 petrol engine appear particular thirsty.

Indeed, thanks to a rare place to rest my left leg, the little Ford is a comfortable place for tall drivers and a stop a couple of hours in on the way up was more for comfort than absolute muscle-screaming necessity.

As ever, Ford’s ECOnetic  Stop-Start technology is faultless, so much so that I can’t see why you wouldn’t opt for it, especially given the sort of short, city runs this panel van is destined to be undertaking. Inclusion of a digital radio with Bluetooth made syncing my music collection dead simple too.

Complaints? It’s a short list. While the interior looks smart and carries over the design cues of Ford’s car family I found the hood over the instrument binnacle unnecessarily severe. With the drivers seat raised it restricts vision and even sitting lower you have to shake-off the constant feeling that you are peering at dials that you should be able to see a little more effortlessly. Although not unusual in itself, the Ford’s handbrake is recessed between the driver and passenger seats and therefore not as easy to grab as it could be.

But as you can tell, this driver was impressed by a great highway companion. The new Connect is another success for the Blue Oval brigade [in driving terms at the very least).

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