There was a bit of a gap between the demise of the previous generation Fiesta Van and the appearance of its replacement, but the wait was definitely worthwhile.
The current models represent the pinnacle of small hatchback-based van design and when we were offered the chance to run one for an extended test period we were delighted to accept and opted for the top-of-the-range SportVan.
We enjoy our driving here at What Van? and the lowered suspension, low profile tyres and sports seats really do endow this little van with a true sporty feel to the ride, handling and steering. There’s nothing wrong with the non-Sport models, but boys will be boys.
Power comes from one of the standard range engines, a 1.6-litre common rail turbodiesel which is capable of producing maximum power of 90hp at 4,000rpm, but more importantly develops 204Nm of peak torque at 1,750rpm. The other engine choices are a 1.4-litre 68hp TDCi and a 1.25-litre 82hp petrol.
Performance isn’t exactly in the same league as a Focus RS, but there is more than enough to make driving fun and enable it to hold its own in the outside lane of the motorway. And what’s more it’s returning fuel consumption of between 46mpg and 49mpg.
No one is going to buy a Fiesta Van for its capacious load abilities, but with a load length of 1,296mm, width between the wheel boxes of one metre, 1.0m3 of space and a gross payload of 490kg it’s on a par with the competition. Four sturdy recessed load tie-down rings are supplied and the load floor is covered in a fitted, rubberised mat. Anyone requiring a bigger load cube will have to look at the next size category of van, ably represented by the likes of the Citroën Nemo and Renault Kangoo Compact.
Opting for the SportVan brings a few extra useful toys to enhance the in-cab comfort, on top of the remote central locking, electric windows, heated and folding door mirrors, heated windscreen, front fog lamps, trip computer and auto wipers/headlights found on the Trend.
You get hands-free Bluetooth connectivity and voice control for the radio/CD (MP3) player — all models feature remote controls on the steering wheel — a leather-trimmed steering wheel, manual air conditioning, knee/side airbags — in addition to the standard driver and passenger airbags — and an active headrest for the driver and the aforementioned sports seats. Externally it comes with and a colour-coded body kit which includes a rear roof spoiler. ESP also comes as part of the package and as this includes Traction Control it has been a boon in the recent inclement weather.
For a van of this size the in-cab storage is not bad. There’s a big, segmented drop-down glovebox, half-length bins in the doors and mouldings next to the handbrake in between the seats to accommodate a couple of drinks and a small bottle of water.
A single 12v power socket — there should be two — sits just in front of the gearstick and next to it there’s a 3.5mm AUX IN socket to plug in an iPod or MP3 player.
The driving position is excellent, helped by the rake- and reach-adjustable steering column, the height-adjustable seats are really supportive in all the right places and the gearchange quality is exemplary. And how did we ever survive without Bluetooth connectivity? The phone was mated once and has never failed to connect automatically since.
We love this little van. It has immense character, is a joy to drive and doesn’t give the wallet a battering every time we fill up with diesel.