If there’s something familiar about the Transit Courier, take a look at a Fiesta passenger car and you’ll see the resemblance.
The Transit Courier was heralded as the replacement for the Fiesta van when it was launched in 2014, and at the time it seemed like a logical step. Sales of the panel-windowed Fiesta were dwindling and a model more in line with the rest of the Transit range seemed sensible.
Then Vauxhall announced it was to scrap the Corsavan and Ford hurriedly u-turned on its decision to ditch the Fiesta. Customers that were expected to jump ship from the Fiesta van and buy Transit Couriers were suddenly left torn between the two. Four years after its initial launch, the market it still flummoxed by the smallest Transit, and the newest model does little to answer those questions.
The new Courier is a mid-life facelift with some engine revisions – let's not pretend it’s anything more than that – but it does bring with it some much-needed improvements. The powertrain is a choice between either a 1.5-litre TDCi diesel unit or a 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol. They’ve been tweaked to meet Euro6.2 emissions standards and as a result the 1.6-litre unit has gone from the line-up. Now buyers get the choice of either a 75hp or 100hp diesel or a 100hp petrol, all of which come with a new six-speed manual transmission as standard.
The front has been redesigned to underline that Fiesta association, so there’s a new grille and reshaped lower fascia section, which once again restores harmony to the appearance of the complete Transit range.
On the inside there’s a redesigned centre console that now incorporates a much larger colour touchscreen, which sits further forward and more upright in the cabin. There are Base, Trend and Limited trim variants that add progressively more equipment, while a new Sport trim not only adds exterior contrast strips but also red contrast-stitched leather on the inside.
The general shape and architecture of the dash is broadly similar to the outgoing model, but the control buttons are neater and no longer fan upwards mimicking the vertical vents. It’s a more sophisticated place to be, which is improved further by Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system on the top-spec vans. Range-topping Limited and Sport variants get a 6.0in screen, while the Trend models make do with a 4.0in version. Base buyers will have to make do with only DAB and no touchscreen.
The highlight of the Courier has always been its exceptional handling and comfort. The Fiesta roots of this car-derived van certainly help when it comes to its on-road driving manners. The steering is sharp and informative, while the suspension treads a neat balance between comfortable and communicative. The 1.5-litre engine seems quieter, and while the 75hp unit feels a little sluggish, the 100hp engine is suitably spirited for such a small van.
The new gearbox too is a fine improvement. The change is slick and smooth but it’s the addition of the extra ratio that makes all the difference, as the engine revs at cruising speed are much lower. Consumption is slightly improved as a result, with a claimed 76.3mpg, which we have seen translate to a low 50mpg real-world fuel consumption.
With the pence-per-litre difference between petrol and diesel increasing, the three-cylinder Ecoboost unit is arguably a more economical choice, but the engine’s penchant for higher revs does damage fuel economy – albeit with a smile-inducing noise that is possibly worth the additional cost.
Payload remains unchanged with the range capable of transporting between 500-590kg depending on specification, while load volume is up to 2.4m3.
As the smallest member of the Transit family it’s understandable the Courier does at times get overlooked. Nevertheless, the mid-cycle upgrades Ford has made are a big improvement. There is, however, still no hiding the fact that its biggest weakness comes from the threat from within. For those looking to carry really small loads, perhaps even just a few tools, the Courier simply cannot match the appeal and refinement of the Fiesta van.
George Barrow is the UK judge for the International Van of the Year, the prestigious prize awarded by leading European LCV journalists
Ford Transit Courier Limited 1.5-litre TDCi 100hp
Price (ex VAT) £15,595
Price range (ex VAT) £12,695-£15,970
Insurance group 3E
Service intervals 1yr/20,000mls
Load length 1,620mm
Load width (min/max) 1,488mm
Load bay height 1,244mm
Gross payload 590kg*
Load volume 2.4m3*
Engine size/power 1,498cc/100hp
Combined fuel economy 76.3mpg
Engine revisions have improved this already excellent little van but some customers will still opt for its resurrected sibling, the Fiesta van.