Ford's Transit model name is a brand that marketeers dream of creating. It has not been an overnight success story, but one that has evolved from the school of hard work and prudent planning. Famed for durability and being a man's van, the latest new Transit 2-tonne will go on sale here within a couple of months.
Of course as part of the development criteria, it had to retain its strong identity and remain a durable rock of light commercial transport. And it also had to rise to the considerable challenge laid down by the likes of the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the Continental Irish Van of the Year 2014. To see how it stacked up in that regard, I took the opportunity to drive several versions of the new model at the European media launch last Monday. It arrives here in April.
Ford’s impressive launch venue was deserving of a wake for the old model and christening of the new model. Ford had constructed a town centre scene inside a warehouse in the port district of Barcelona where many of the variants were available to drive.
The interior is much more car-like than the out-going model with a great comfortable driving position. A larger windscreen makes forward visibility better and it is really good to drive.
Earlier this year Ford celebrated the production of the seven millionth Transit van since it launched the iconic brand in 1965. And life goes on with Ford's boast that the new Transit will provide businesses with best-in-class cost-of-ownership and load carrying capability. It is boosted with additional safety and driver technology. One feature that attracted my attention was 'curve control' or 'CC', which can reduce the speed of a Transit safely and gradually.
It also promises best-in-class fuel efficiency with the extended choice of Transit Econetic models with auto start-stop. The standard Transit powertrain features the fuel-efficient 2.2-litre Duratorq diesel engine with a choice of three power ratings (100, 125, & 155 PS) with a six-speed manual transmission. Buyers also have the option of 125PS and 155PS HDT6 engines which meet the Euro HDT VI emission standards.
The Transit Econetic models deliver best-in-class CO2 emissions from 169g/km (with 100km/h fixed speed limiter), equivalent to combined fuel consumption from 6.4 l/100km (or 44mpg). Compared to the already highly fuel efficient Econetic version of the outgoing Transit, fuel consumption has been reduced by a further six per cent.
One of Ford's over-riding objectives is to deliver significantly reduced maintenance and repair costs and increased load - 10 per cent more load volume on average, topping out at 15.1 cubic-metres. Ford has also added more smart loadspace features, such as larger side-door openings.
And the popular 350 L2 medium wheel-base version now has maximum volume which has risen from 10.3 to 11.2 m3, and it can now take four Europallets and carry 3m length items along the floor.
With a huge choice of body styles,weight, size and powertrain derivatives to suit every vehicle requirement, the new model heads the new four-strong Transit range. When it arrives here in early April, the Transit 2-tonne will line-up alongside the multi-award winning Transit Custom and Transit Connect, with the compact lower weight application Transit Courier to follow in June.
Entire range renewal
It is unprecedented that in two years Ford has renewed its entire commercial vehicle range for Europe.
The new Transit is based on a state-of-the-art global platform and replaces the heavier Transit derivatives in Ford’s commercial vehicle line-up. Available in front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions, the new Transit also offers extended two-year/50,000km service intervals, with the time required for scheduled maintenance over 150,000km cut from 5.4 to 4.2 hours over the outgoing model.
The entry level base model is the L2 290 GVW capacity, 2.2-litre (100PS) FWD variant with a VAT inclusive price of €25,300. (€20,606.50 ex-VAT). However, the 350 GVW Series L2 with the similar engine and RWD will again be the best seller in the new Transit, and it starts at €26,400 (€21,500.81 ex-VAT).
The Ford Transit range is now very comprehensive. And Ford’s flagship Transit model is once again setting some important new standards in its class. It has cut running costs, can shift bigger loads, as well as pioneering some good new technologies. It drives really well and Ford has delivered a comfortable cab that is very car-like. It has to be on every fleet manager’s very short list, and small and medium businesses and owner operators should also check out the new Transit.