More power and an extra gear make a big difference to Ford’s compact van, says Dan Gilkes.
With the unexpected return of Fiesta Van to the Ford LCV line-up, you might think that the car-derived van would be treading on the toes of the smallest Transit model. But Transit Courier is fighting back, continuing to carve its own niche as more of a load-carrier than the Fiesta, though with much of the driving experience.
There are three Euro 6.2 engines on offer, including a 1.0-litre petrol at 100hp and two versions of the latest 1.5-litre Duratorq diesel, producing 75hp or 100hp, up from 90hp on the previous model. All three can be had with or without Auto-Start-Stop.
Ford has also dropped an additional forward gear into the box for diesel models, with a slick-shifting six-speed manual now the only option. The combination of the 100hp engine and the new transmission results in a claimed 62.8mpg, with a CO2 rating of 117g/km.
There is plenty of choice when it comes to trim levels, with the Leader model boasting a fixed bulkhead, DAB radio with Bluetooth and MyFord Dock connectivity. The more popular Trend trim adds a side loading door, front fog lights, power-heated door mirrors, power windows and Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system with a 4” screen.
Limited trim gets you 15” alloys, body-coloured bumpers and door handles, manual air conditioning, rear parking sensors, cruise control and a 6” colour screen for the SYNC3 system. Topping off the range is the Courier Sport that we have here. Aside from the debatable stripes on the bonnet, you get 16” black alloys, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearlever gaiter, partial leather seat trim and body-coloured side mouldings. Oddly, given its range-topping status, the SYNC screen on the dash drops back down to the smaller 4” one from Trend.
The power boost and additional gear contribute to an entertaining drive across country, though the real benefit is in longer-distance cruising, where the compact van easily covers the miles. Courier has comfortable seating, with an arm rest for the driver and there is plenty of storage space in the cab, with a central stowage area and a drawer beneath the driver’s seat.
Of course, where the van really scores against its car-derived competitor is in the cargo area, with Courier boasting a 2.3m3 load volume. That’s more than double the carrying capacity of the Fiesta. Likewise, a reasonable payload of more than 600kg should be enough for most users.
If you do need more space, there is also the option of a folding-mesh-bulkhead, with a fold-and-dive passenger seat for longer objects, though this is not available on the Sport model.
Ford has been very successful with various Transit Sport vans, offering what is basically a cosmetic package with the standard van’s driveline. The latest Transit Courier Sport continues that tradition, providing owners and drivers with the sportier look, with no loss of practical carrying capacity.
Whether you opt for the sporty version or a regular trim, the latest Transit Courier is the best van in its class.