Ford’s baby van completed the renewal of its LCV line-up and saw the brand debut in a new sector of the market, James Dallas reports
The newcomer to What Van?’s long-term test fleet is a member of the Transit Courier family – the baby van that completed Ford’s renewal of its light commercial vehicle line-up.
The Courier fits into Ford’s LCV range between the car-derived Fiesta Van and the Transit Connect light van. It gives the brand a product to compete against the compact cubed vans created by PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Fiat Professional, namely the Bipper, Nemo and Fiorino.
A good-looking, stylish and classy little van, our first impressions of the Courier were so favourable that we crowned it the What Van? Van of the Year for 2015.
The engine line-up is one area that helps the Courier stand out against its rivals. While the little Peugeot and Citroen vans only have a 75hp diesel engine option, and the Fiat, as well as Mercedes’ Citan Compact – the only other small van in the segment – have 75hp or 95hp diesels, the Ford can match those two with 1.5 and 1.6-litre diesels, and also offer the 1.0-litre 100hp petrol Ecoboost alternative that’s aimed at the urban operators most likely to be employing this sort of van anyway.
Our long-term Courier is the 1.5 75hp, five-speed manual Kombi Base model. This less powerful diesel engine is actually also less efficient than its 95hp stablemate, returning an official 68.9mpg on the combined cycle compared to the larger unit’s 70.6mpg. As a result, higher-mileage users may consider the extra £400 to get an additional 20hp well worth it. The Ecoboost petrol is 16.6mpg less efficient than the 75hp diesel but undercuts its starting price by £400.
Stop/start, not fitted to our model, is available for £150 and Ford claims this would improve fuel economy by 3.5mpg on the 1.5, 75hp diesel engine.
However, the standard 75hp’s mpg compares favourably to the 62.8mpg offered by its rivals from PSA and Fiat Professional.
In so far as the Kombi Courier has the capacity to carry five occupants, with the row of rear seats not separated from the load bay by a bulkhead, customers should be prepared to pay VAT on their purchase and be charged income tax at the passenger-carrying vehicle rate if they want to use the vehicle outside of business hours for personal use. Nevertheless, its versatility makes the Kombi well suited to transport teams of electricians, plumbers or decorators to site and also enables the little van to double up as a family vehicle.
Crew vans are becoming something of an endangered species in the compact van sector, Citroen withdrew its double-cab Nemo three years ago and Peugeot dropped its Bipper Tepee at the beginning of 2015. Fiat Professional however, continues to market a Fiorino Combi.
With the seats folded down to increase cargo space Fiat claims it offers a load volume of 2.5m3 – a lot more than the Courier’s 1.9m3. On the other hand, the Fiorino Combi’s stated payload is 515kg compared to the Courier Kombi’s 565kg. Excluding VAT, as do all figures listed here, the vans come with base price tags of £12,015 and £12,513 respectively.
Base specification comes with features such as rake and reach adjustable steering, daytime running lights, full-size spare wheel, DAB radio with Bluetooth and USB and a driver’s airbag. However, in this trim the van does have a Spartan feel and owner-drivers in particular may want to fork out the extra £600 for Trend that adds, among other items, wheel covers for the 15-inch steel wheels, front fog lights, body- coloured wing mirrors and door handles, auto lights and wipers, electric heated door mirrors, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat with lumber support, an overhead stowage shelf, trip computer, stowage drawer under the driver’s seat and CD radio with Ford SYNC and 3.5-inch dot-matrix display.
This last feature, together with the overhead shelf and leather-covered steering wheel with radio controls is included in our van in the £420 Ice Pack. Not on our van but also worth considering are rear parking sensors, cruise control (both £150) and air-conditioning (£400).
Ford Transit Courier Kombi Base
Claimed combined consumption 68.9mpg
Our average consumption 45.3mpg
Price (ex VAT or options) £12,513
Price range (ex VAT) £11,045 - £12,445
Gross payload 565kg
Load length 1620mm
Load width (min/max) 1012mm/1488mm
Load bay height 1244mm
Load volume 1.9m3
Braked trailer towing weight 500kg
Loading height 547mm
Engine size/power 1496cc/75hp
Service intervals 1yr/20,000mls
Insurance group 3E
Options (ex VAT)
Metallic paint £360
Ice Pack £420
Auto headlamps and rain sensitive wipers £90