When it arrived in the UK in 2014 the fifth generation of the large Transit van did not receive quite the same adulation as its mid-sized sibling the Custom had enjoyed a year earlier.
Visually, with its aggressive, pugnacious nose, the Transit takes more getting used to than the Custom, which is far easier on the eye, but this is probably because the two-tonne van was designed with an eye on the US market, where it is also sold.
Last year the Transit slipped to third in the overall sales chart, with 26,186 registrations, falling behind another medium van, the Vauxhall Vivaro, as well as its stablemate, the Custom.
Nevertheless, the Transit is the leader of a competitive segment and in August it will get a new Euro6 engine ahead of the introduction of the latest emissions regulation the following month.
As in the Transit Custom, Ford’s new 2.0-litre Ecoblue TDCi with power outputs of 105, 130 and 170hp will supersede the old 2.2 TDCi, which came with outputs of 100, 125 and 155hp. Torque has also been ramped up by 50, 35 and 20Nm,
respectively across the line-up and this makes itself felt particularly strongly low down in the rev range.
Ford claims Transit models equipped with its optional Auto-Stop-Start system (£200 excluding VAT as do all prices listed) achieve C02 emissions from 174g/km and fuel consumption from 42.2mpg – a 10% reduction compared to the outgoing model.
The big Transit continues to be available in two trim levels, Base and Trend, with respective prices starting at £22,245 and £24,095 for the 290 (2.9t) L2H2 versions. The 3.5t Transit starts from £25,895 while prices for the 3.5t Mercedes Sprinter – the Transit’s only rival in terms of volume, start at £26,630 although the smaller, 3.0t model is priced from £21,390.
The 105hp Ecoblue engine is only offered in the UK in Base trim.
But Ford has not been mean with the specification of its entry-level trim and has notably ramped up safety equipment with an upgraded Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system.
All Euro6 vans will get Side Wind Stabilisation to reduce the impact of sudden gusts of wind on the vehicle’s path by applying the brakes on the appropriate side. The feature mirrors the Crosswind Assist present on the Euro6 Mercedes Sprinter since 2014.
Base models also come with Ford’s new Curve Control programme, which is designed to slow down the van in a safe and stable fashion if it enters a bend, such as a motorway exit ramp, too quickly and Roll Stability Control uses engine torque and individual wheel braking to prevent the vehicle rolling over.
Step up to Trend and you get additions such as cruise control, Ford SYNC with a four-inch touch screen and Emergency Assist, leather trimming, a lockable glovebox and front and rear parking sensors.
The Euro6 Transit will come with the option of front- or rear-wheel drive from August, with an all-wheel drive version joining the line-up in February next year. This, as well as the six-speed automatic transmission that will be available on FWD models before the end of the year, pitches the van up against the Mercedes Sprinter, with a seven-speed auto and the Iveco Daily, with its excellent eight-speed Himatic auto ‘box. Both the Mercedes and Iveco vans are offered in RWD and AWD only.
We tested the Euro6 Transit with the 170hp engine in RWD in its largest L4 H3 (extended length/High roof) bodyshape. The model is also up for grabs with medium and long wheelbases (L2 and L3) and with a medium roof (H2).
A double-cab-in-van 350 130hp RWD L2H2 configuration will also be marketed.
Our van has a load capacity of 15.1m3 and payload of 1111kg, which was filled to half its capacity. Ford says payloads on the 3.5t Euro6 Transits have reduced 45kg to compensate for the addition of the Ad blue tank. The 170hp engine coped effortlessly with the weight on board and this output would be the ideal choice for operators engaged in long distance, inter city assignments. By way of comparison the 316CDI high roof extra long Sprinter offers a payload of 1059kg. The German brand does, however, offer a load space of up to 17.0m3.
If weight rather than space is the priority then the L2H2 FWD Transit offers a 1446kg payload with a 10m3 cargo box.
The big Transit is class-leading for drivability with precise steering wedded to the slick six-speed manual transmission and a reach and rake-adjustable steering column making it easy to find the best driving position.
Cabin noise is kept well under control by acoustic improvements to the engine, which Ford claims radiates half as much sound at idle as the previous 2.2 unit.
Plenty of worthwhile safety kit can be specified and our van had pre-collision assist, adaptive cruise control with forward alert, lane keeping alert and a rear-view camera bundled into the Premium Visibilty pack for £1100.
|Ford Transit 350 2.0 170hp RWD L4H3|
|Price (ex VAT) £31,945|
|Price range (ex VAT) £22,245-£34,545|
|Insurance group tbc|
|Service intervals 37,000mls|
|Load length 4217mm|
|Load width (min/max) 1392mm/1784mm|
|Gross payload 1111kg|
|Load volume 15.1m3|
|Engine size/power 1996cc/170hp|
|On sale August 2016|
|Combined fuel economy 42.2mpg|
Ford has improved the refinement, economy and safety features on a van that was already among the most competent in its class.