Ford’s highly praised Fiesta Van has not rested on its laurels in the past 12 months and is therefore once more the deserving winner of the What Van? Small Van of the Year award.

Obviously not the biggest load lugger on the road, it is, nevertheless, ideal for ducking and diving about the urban environment as well as being unrivalled for driving pleasure when it comes to cutting loose out of town.

Based on the three-door version of the UK’s best-selling passenger car, the Fiesta Van comes with a choice of three engines, all wedded to a five-speed manual transmission.

Customers can opt for an 82hp 1.25-litre petrol, a 68hp 1.4-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel or Dagenham’s finest – the 1.6-litre TDCi Duratorq common rail turbodiesel, which is the powerplant that drives the top of the range Sportvan derivative.

Available with or without a particulate trap, the Sportvan (pictures) boasts maximum power of 90hp at 4000rpm and develops 204Nm of torque at 1750rpm. CO2 output is rated at a commendably frugal 110g/km and fuel economy on the combined cycle is 67.3mpg – the same as the 1.4 diesel.

As you would expect, the ride is firmer but the handling is sharper than that of the standard models and the driving position is spot on. Added extras include a leather-trimmed steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity and voice control for the radio/CD/MP3 player.

At the other end of the scale, the Econetic Fiesta Van is the lowest-emitting van on the market, this side of anything using alternative fuels. The 90hp 1.6 diesel is tuned for emissions and is capable of 76.3mpg and a claimed 98g/km of CO2 emissions.

Launched late last year, the latest Econetic achieves its low emissions thanks to a range of measures including lowered suspension, rear wheel air deflectors, low rolling resistance tyres, modified engine calibration and tweaked gear ratios.

A nice touch to prevent nasty accidents is Ford’s EasyFuel capless refueling system that prevents the wrong fuel being put in the tank when it’s time to stop at the pumps.

Maximum payloads vary from 490kg-515kg depending on the version chosen and cargo area is a surprisingly generous and practical 1.0cu/m. Maximum load length is 1296mm and maximum width is 1278mm narrowing to 1000mm between the wheel boxes. The load compartment height is 806mm and a half-height composite bulkhead is fitted along with four load tie-down points.

Four trim levels are available: entry level, Trend,?Econetic and Sportvan. Mid-range Trend includes heated and folding
door mirrors, heated windscreen, front fog lamps and auto wipers and headlights.

Finally, the attractive cab interior features user-friendly dashboard controls and storage facilities such as a lidded glovebox, bins in the doors and mouldings to accommodate two drinks and a bottle of water. Noise levels on long journeys are impressively low.

The Fiesta is not the only small van in town, however. Running it close this year was the Vauxhall Corsavan, which won our Highly Commended award.

Now even more frugal, the Corsavan Ecoflex version includes a stop/start system combined with a diesel particulate filter. The Euro5 1.3 75hp diesel has a combined cycle fuel consumption of 70.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 105g/km.