Based on the short-wheelbase, standard roof, front-wheel drive 260 and powered by a 140hp 2.2-litre diesel, SportVan comes with 18in alloy wheels. They're shod with 235/45 Z R18 low-profile Continental Sport Contact 2 tyres that look rather like thick rubber bands.
“The front ones on mine were bald and illegal after just 8,000 miles and the dealer wanted to charge me £200 per tyre to replace them,” says painter and decorator Ronnie Edwards of Arbroath, Angus. “Yet I can get 20,000 miles out of the front tyres of a standard Transit.
“Ford has not come up with an explanation as to why this is happening,” he adds. “I think what it has done is fit car tyres to a commercial vehicle.”
“The front tyres on my Transit SportVan were marginal after just 6,000 miles and they've worn so badly after 8,000 miles that they're now completely illegal,” says a Midlands kitchen and bathroom fitter, who asked not to be named.
“I'm planning to tell the Ford dealer I bought the vehicle from that I'm rejecting it as unfit for purpose. I can't afford to run a van that eats front tyres so quickly.”
A host of operators have complained about SportVan's hunger for front rubber on the Ford Transit Forum web site — a helpful and informative site that all Transit owners should make a point of visiting.
While low-profile tyres tend not to last as long as their standard-profile counterparts, a life of a few thousand miles before they need changing cannot be viewed as acceptable.
“We're aware of the problem, and some of the wear and tear we've picked up on is beyond what we would have expected,” says Ford commercial vehicles director, Stephen Kimber. “A relatively small number of customers are affected, but we take this sort of thing very seriously and we're investigating the matter along with our supplier Continental.”