Ford’s latest All-Wheel Drive version of its new large Transit van arrived last October in the second wave of models following the initial launch of the vehicle in April 2014.
The AWD version is available only in Base specification, although a wide range of options is up for grabs, but customers can choose from a variety of bodystyles.
We drove the L2H2 (medium wheelbase, medium roof) van but the AWD is also offered in L2H3, L3H2 and L3H3 guises.
The AWD is a niche seller in the Transit line-up but offers extra traction in difficult driving conditions to those, such as utility companies or rural-based emergency services that are likely to need it.
Under most conditions driving torque is directed from the rear to the front wheels as required according to the road surface and engine load in AWD Auto mode, but when the going gets slippery the system automatically transfers power to all four wheels.
Ford claims that compared to the previous AWD Transit the new electronically controlled system delivers better traction in low friction conditions, full integration with the ESC and traction control systems and a new AWD Lock mode for enhanced grip in extreme conditions such as snow and sand.
Ford lists another plus point as the AWD’s loading heights, which at 511 to 668mm from fully laden to unladen, are the same as those for FWD and RWD vans.
Ford quotes AWD combined cycle fuel consumption of 29.1mpg for both the 2.2 TDCi 125hp engine and the more powerful 155hp derivative we drove. CO2 emissions are put at 251g/km.
For the L2H2 RWD official fuel consumption is 35.8mpg with CO2 of 209g/km.
With start/stop included the figures are: 37.2mpg and 201g/km.
On the FWD equivalent fuel consumption is 37.7mpg rising to 39.2mpg with start/stop while CO2 emissions are 199g/km and 192g/km respectively.
The Transit AWD 350 has a payload capacity of 1335kg, which gives up a little to the RWD’s 1416kg and the FWD’s 1530kg, with all examples being medium wheelbase medium roof height.
Mercedes 2.1-litre 163hp 4x4 316CDI Sprinter in MWB with a standard roof has official fuel consumption of 32.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 229g/km but an inferior payload allowance of 1045g/km.
The AWD’s stylish and user friendly cabin is a scaled-up version of the interiors fitted to all Ford’s new LCVs from the Transit Courier to the Connect to the Custom to the rest of the models in the big Transit range. Despite coming in Base trim it does not feel overly Spartan.
The three-seater cab is roomy, comfortable and contains ample storage space including a large overhead shelf.
The middle passenger seat houses an underseat stowage compartment as well as a fold out table in the backrest containing a pen tray, two cup-holders and an elasticated band to keep paperwork in place.
A lidded compartment on top of the instrument panel plays host to a 12V power point plus aux and USB ports, there are deep bins in each of the doors and a large, lidded glove box. To all that can be added shelves on top of the dashboard in front of the passengers, and cup and bottle holders at either extremity of the fascia.
A full steel bulkhead protects the cab from the load area.
An eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and a rake and reach adjustable steering column contribute to the big van’s excellent driving characteristics.
The short gearshift lever is positioned high and within easy reach, unlike in many LCVs, and the six-speed manual transmission, which comes with a dash-mounted gear shift indicator to aid economy, is slick and together with the sharp, direct steering belies the big van’s size.
Our van came with a raft of options, some of which, like the £100 cruise control, come as standard with the Trend specification that is not offered with the AWD derivative.
Other useful additions were dual side loading doors for £300, air-conditioning (£600) and Ford Nav with the excellent mirror-mounted rear view camera for an eye-watering £1360. Our van was also equipped with mud and snow tyres for an extra £380 – a useful feature for those regularly tackling rugged terrain.
Ford Transit AWD 350 L2H2 Base
Price (ex VAT) £25,460
Price range (ex VAT) £20,795-£33,145
Insurance group 9E
Service intervals 2yrs/20,000mls
Load length 3044mm
Load width (min/max) 1392mm/1784mm
Load bay height 3044mm
Gross payload 1335kg
Load volume 9.5m3
Engine size/power 2198cc/155hp
On sale October 2014
Combined fuel economy 29.1mpg
An impressive package that behaves impeccably on-road but will also meet the requirements of operators needing off-road access.