While the car version of the Fiesta is a hugely popular vehicle, its LCV sibling is living on borrowed time, writes Ian Shaw
The true car-derived van – that is to say, a vehicle which is merely converted from a passenger car by removal of rear seats and rear-side glazing – is becoming rather rare in makers’ model ranges.
It has been part of LCV history from day one, but where once the Minivan, Ford Anglia and Morris Minor van were the darlings of every town-dwelling business from the Royal Mail to the corner shop, they are now a dying breed.
Their simple designs, although cheap, lacked the versatility of the new breed of car-cube vans, and recognisable car shapes gave way to the four-square Fiat Fiorino and bumptious Citroen Berlingo. Ford, too, embraced these new ideas, with the Transit Connect and later the Courier, but did not abandon the original recipe, despite the Fiesta Van accounting for a fraction of Ford LCV sales.
This sixth, and final, full incarnation of the Fiesta – known as mk7 in the UK – has been with us since 2008, and was facelifted inside and out, in 2014, in line with Ford’s doctrine of continual and incremental improvements. Production came to an end in April this year.
As a car-derived van the Fiesta’s load bay is not huge. It offers a loadspace length of 1.3m, a width of just over a metre between the rear wheel arches, and a load bay height of 800mm. This gives an overall load volume of one cubic metre and a payload of 485–500kg, depending upon specification – not bad in a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of only 1.5 tonnes.
From a loading standpoint the only minus mark is that loads need to be lifted over the boot lip – rarely an issue in operation, as these vans generally carry small multiple loads. The load floor itself is flat and although some car-derived vans are built from estate versions, with five doors giving good side access, this is rarely an issue with supermini hatch-based designs such as the Fiesta Van.
Of course, the real advantage of the car-derived van is its compact nature. They’re easy to drive, easy to park, can be garaged overnight, are fuel-efficient and incredibly wieldy in city traffic, have low maintenance costs, and – particularly so in the case of the Fiesta – are fun to drive. This generation of Fiesta is by far the best to drive – the handling is superb, the ride is excellent for a small hatchback and only a slight increase in noise over the car, due to the loss of the sound-deadening rear seat, tells you that you’re in a van at all.
A few faults are known for the Fiesta Van. There was a recall for seat belt anchor issues in 2016 and a couple of minor electrical problems are known. Look out for rear damper issues, which suggests overloading, and any vehicle that does not sit level. Reluctance to select reverse sometimes is common to all Fiestas of this generation, and third gear synchromesh can be weak at higher miles or as a result of hard use. Finally, it’s worth noting that the Sport model’s body extras are expensive if damaged.
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