Ford’s heavily revised 2.0t Transit has finally arrived and it’s been worth the wait.
The exterior features a taller three-bar grille and a reworked lower fascia with front panels and bumper reshaped to improve aerodynamics. High-end models get bi-xenon headlights and new LED running lights. The cabin retains its stylishness with a high-quality finish and intuitive controls but now boasts more practical storage provisions, such as three open-topped shelves on the dashboard.
Ford has upgraded its 2.0-litre Ecoblue diesel engine and added a more powerful 185hp variant to complement the 105hp, 130hp and 170hp units. Auto stop/start is fitted as standard and Ford claims fuel efficiency is improved by 7% on the WLTP cycle. Ford has also made diesel mild-hybrid (MHEV) tech available across the line-up for a price premium of £700. It claims the system, which captures energy during braking and deceleration and stores it as charge in a 48V battery, delivers a further consumption saving of 3%, which can rise to 8% in urban driving.
From launch Ford is offering the Transit with a six-speed manual gearbox and, on front-wheel drive (FWD) vans, a six-speed auto. Customers may prefer to wait, however, for the new 10-speed auto transmission that will be available on rear-wheel drive (RWD) models in Q1 2020. The manufacturer is confident this variant will enable it to compete more strongly with the likes of the Mercedes Sprinter and Iveco’s Daily in the supermarket delivery sector.
Ford has also moved to boost payload by up to 80kg on RWD models (48kg on FWD) through making a series of weight savings, including to the RWD rear axle, fuel tank and front bumper. The max payload in the range is 1,418kg on the FWD Transit 350 L2H2. VW offers 1,244kg on its FWD medium-wheelbase (MWB), high-roof Crafter but Vauxhall extends to 1,529kg on its new FWD L2H2 Movano.
In keeping with market trends, Ford has upped its game in connectivity provision by making its FordPass Connect modem standard on all models.
Large fleets can plumb into the scalable Ford Commercial Solutions telematics fleet management menu, which is designed to monitor driver behaviour and maximise uptime, while small businesses with up to five LCVs get the new FordPass Pro smartphone app. Initial features include Check In (which accesses vehicle data, such as AdBlue levels, and advises on any action the driver needs to take), and Vehicle Health (covering the likes of fuel level, tyre pressure and oil life).
A wealth of driver assistance features are available on the Transit, including blind spot information with trailer tow, which incorporates an extended blind-spot zone. More new tech has been added to aid manoeuvring and parking, such as excellent front- and rear-view cameras, including a high-mounted rear-view camera that provides clear visibility when reversing, active park assist, and cross-traffic alert that warns drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles crossing behind them.
We would recommend the slick manual gearbox over the FWD-only auto. The 170hp MHEV engine in RWD is particularly impressive, coping effortlessly with a 500kg load and content to make stately progress at low revs without demanding to be changed down from sixth gear.
We are accustomed to Ford’s LCVs being excellent to drive and the revised Transit is no exception. The introduction of electric power-assisted steering takes the strain out of tight manoeuvres in the city but happily has not diminished the exemplary handling on the open road. It offers plenty of feedback while steering the van exactly where you want. A slight gripe would be that engine and wind noise can occasionally be intrusive when the van was driven harder – a symptom, perhaps, of the weight-saving work.
Ford Transit 2.0 EcoBlue Diesel 170hp RWD L4H3
Price (ex VAT) £36,295 (est.)
Price range (ex VAT) £26,235-£38,26 (est.)
Insurance group 46
Service intervals 36,000mls
Load length 4,217mm
Load width (min/max) 1,392/1,784mm
Load bay height 2,025mm
Gross payload 996kg
Load volume 15.1m3
Engine size/power 1,996cc/170hp
Combined fuel economy 40.4mpg
Improvements to exterior styling, interior practicality, economy and performance and with a wealth of mosels to choose from make the Transit a formidable van