Wednesday, 8 April 2015

REVIEW - Ford Transit Courier Trend

It’s not often that I get the chance to review vans, but I’d heard a lot of good things about the Ford Transit Courier. And given that I loved the Transit Custom, I had high hopes for this scaled-down version. It’s based on a Fiesta and in the Trend model I tested, has seating for two and lots of space behind it. You can even get it with an Ecoboost engine if you so wish. My test model came with a 1.6-litre diesel engine, and it turned out to be rather handy. So although I may not be best qualified to test a van, I’ll certainly give it a go, so read on to see how I spent my week as a white van man…

 Looks – 9/10

As I mentioned above, the Transit Courier is based on the Fiesta platform, and this shows in the front end styling. The grille is very familiar, as are the headlights. But as you move along the vehicle becomes more van-like, and certainly looks a lot bigger than any Fiesta. The wheels may only be steel with a plastic trim, but they still look alright. I like the big chunky door handles and the bold lines throughout. From the back, the lights are a rather nice feature, as is the split-opening door. The Trend gets colour-coded door handles and mirrors, which is nice. And I think the beauty of the Transit Courier is that it’s car like enough to get away with many colours that may look a bit gaudy on full-size vans; your bright blue and the like.

On the inside the Transit Courier is even more familiar. The dashboard is very Fiesta-like, as is the steering wheel. And it’s a nice shape too, with that centre console providing and the vertical air vents. My favourite feature on the Trend is the Ford SYNC system which adds the screen to the centre of the dashboard, and really ups the interior style. The leather-trimmed steering wheel looks great, and the seats have a nice pattern to them. As you would expect though, there is a functional feel to the interior, and this does come at the expense of style. There’s a lot of darker materials and plastics as opposed to glossy or fancy finishes.

Handling/Performance – 10/10

The 1.6-litre diesel engine in my test vehicle was the more powerful of the two diesel options; a 1.6-litre Duratorq producing 95PS and a pleasing 215Nm of torque. The aforementioned Ecoboost option is the 1.0-litre, 100PS version, but I think the torque available in the diesel really suits the Courier better. Although it’s not entirely relevant- as you won’t be heading down to Santa Pod in your Transit- in the interest of full disclosure the 0-62mph time is 13.4 seconds and the top speed is 103mph. But what’s more important is how power is delivered through the 5-speed manual gearbox. Ordinarily I would be shouting for a 6-speed but ford has made the 5th gear longer, and as such the Courier cruises well on the motorway. In-gear acceleration is good, but as with all diesels it runs out of juice towards 4,000rpm.

Being relatively compact, the Transit Courier handles rather well. I see this being down to two things. Firstly, there’s a lack of height which would usually translate to lean and unsettled cornering. Secondly, it is unquestionable that the Fiesta has one of the best chassis’ of any car. They all handle well. So to some extend I wasn’t too surprised that the Transit Courier is a nippy little van, with rather direct steering and a sharp turn-in. The suspension is set perfectly as well; it’s a little on the firm side to accommodate a heavy load in the back, and as such stays planted on bumpy A roads. I had a rather tricky commute over some rather unpleasant roads and I was vastly impressed with the Transit Courier. Its size also helped on the narrower sections too, where a bigger van would have become a hindrance.

Economy – 9/10

The 1.6-litre diesel also offers you good levels of economy too. My model came with the optional start/stop technology (£150 + VAT) which brings the CO2 emissions down to 100g/km, as well as boasting combined fuel consumption of 74.3mpg. The long 5th gear certainly helps this on a longer run. However, there is another point to be made here. The Transit Courier is taxed as a Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) and as such is at a fixed rate of £225 per year. So why bother with the start/stop? I can’t see the logic in reducing CO2 figures when they’re not relevant to road tax.

Practicality – 10/10

No surprises here; the Transit Courier is a remarkable vehicle which offers a lot of practicality and is ideal for those who don’t need the capacity of a regular Transit. I would definitely recommend the mesh bulkhead (£200 + VAT) with fold-flat passenger seat. This means that when you don’t need the second seat, you can fold it down, and move the mesh bulkhead so that the driver is still protected. This allows longer items to be loaded or just creates more space. And I was amazed at what you could get in the back of the transit. We recently purchased a rally car (keep a lookout on the blog for more on that one!) and the Transit Courier managed the entire spares package, which comprised 12 wheels and tyres, 2 doors, 2 wings, various mechanical parts and a couple of jerry cans. The optional cruise control (£150 + VAT) and the load area LED light (£40 + VAT) are very useful and I would opt for them both.

Fun – 10/10

I found the Transit Courier an excellent package and despite my high expectations, it still managed to surprise me. Thanks to the SYNC system you can connect your telephone and iPod, meaning you can stay in touch and listen to your favourite songs. I was a little disappointed at the lack of air conditioning, which would be sorely missed on a hot summer’s day; it can be specified as an optional extra though. I found the Transit Courier extremely versatile, and it dealt with everything we threw at it with ease. The bulkhead was a very clever piece of design, and all the controls were easy to use. And for all the mileage the Courier was never tiresome, or annoying. And for a van that says an awful lot.

Concluding Remarks

So that sums up my week with the Transit Courier. And it was a rather eventful week that saw us travel many miles, over many roads, and the Courier never faltered. It is without doubt one of the most versatile vehicles I have ever tested, and because of its smaller size it comes in at a reasonable price too. The Trend starts at £12,545 on the road, and even with all the options mentioned my test vehicle came in at £13,235. Factor in VAT- unless you can claim it back- and you’re looking at £15,882 which for the amount of practicality you get seems rather good value for me. So for those who need a bit more space than a car, or want a compact van for a small business, then this may be the answer. There’s even a Kombi version with 5 seats to get the best of both worlds. For more information log on to the Ford website, or pop into a local dealership. The Ford Transit Courier; proof that good things come in small packages.

Total Score – 48/50

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