This year’s top gong in the hotly contested medium van category goes to the impressive new Euro5 Ford Transit, which withstood a tough challenge from last year’s winner, the highly accomplished Volkswagen Transporter.
Ford focused on making significant improvements to the Euro5 Transit’s economy compared with the Euro4 van.
Former UK boss Nigel Sharp, who retired this summer, said the manufacturer’s engineers had “crawled all over the drivetrain
and delivered big improvements in fuel economy”.
And it is under the surface that the major changes have taken place. From the outside the new Transit appears much as it was, although a silver grille and a blue badge detailing the engine derivation has replaced the red one previously used. This should help used buyers spot the Euro5 model at remarketing time.
The new Transit is £800 more expensive than the outgoing one across the line-up and prices for the short-wheelbase version start at £17,405 excluding VAT.
But Ford has done more than just fit pricey particulate filters to bring down NOx emissions.
The biggest change is the introduction of the more efficient Duratorq 2.2 TDCi engine in place of the previous 2.2 and 2.4 diesels.
Front-wheel drive SWB Euro5 Transits are available with 100, 125 and 140hp iterations of this engine.
The 100hp 280 Econetic achieves class-leading official CO2 emissions of 178g/km, which fall to 173g/km with the addition of the optional fixed 62mph speed limiter. It also delivers fuel cost savings of 10% compared with its predecessor, with an official fuel consumption figure of 43.4mpg.
Acting on feedback from operators who said a fixed speed limiter does not best suit all driving situations, Ford offers an Eco Pack that includes both a switchable 70mph speed limiter and switchable auto stop/start as standard  on Econetic models. The Eco Pack is an option across the rest of the  SWB range. In another customer- friendly move, Ford has extended service intervals from 15,000 to 20,000 miles.
The brand has also taken great strides in improving the Transit’s refinement through increased noise suppression. The now standard six-speed transmission provides longer gearing for a quieter ride as well as lower fuel consumption. The gearbox, sourced from the Ford Mondeo for FWD Transits, delivers the much sought-after car-like shift.

Highly Commended

Highly commended is the VW Transporter. The Transporter is a solidly constructed, dependable workhorse that is unlikely to disappoint anybody who buys one. Admittedly, its styling, both internally and externally, is underwhelming, but the ride, handling and gear-change are all first-class.
Meanwhile, the 5.8cu/m load area can swallow a lot more cargo than you might expect and giving it a bit of weight to haul does not impair its on-road performance to any noticeable extent. The Transporter is powered by four versions of the 2.0-litre Euro5 diesel unit. Power outputs are 84, 102, 140 and 180hp.