Is there any significant demand for light commercial vehicles that are small hatchbacks?
UK market leader Ford seems to think so, despite the fact that every other manufacturer has exited the sector.
Vauxhall was the most recent to depart, axing the excellent Corsavan. Having abandoned the market itself sometime ago, Ford has returned – possibly prompted by Vauxhall’s departure – with a new version of the Fiesta Van.
Debuting at last year’s Commercial Vehicle Show, it comes with the choice of two specifications: entry level and Sport. The former can be ordered with a 85hp 1.1-litre petrol engine or a 85hp 1.5-litre TDCi diesel.
Opt for the Sport instead and you can choose either a 125hp 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine or the 1.5-litre TDCi at 120hp.
We opted for the diesel Sport – and while we take the job of assessing light commercials with the utmost seriousness, we must admit that we looked forward to some fun.
As there are no longer any direct rivals to the Fiesta Van we have had no choice but to list compact panel vans as the key competition – one of which happens to be a Ford product.
Although its payload isn’t all that much better, the Transit Courier offers more load cube than Fiesta Van.
In diesel Sport guise it is several hundred pounds cheaper than the diesel Fiesta Sportvan, but offers less power. In the spirit of casting the comparison net as wide as possible, mention should also be made of the Piaggio Porter microvan.
It is still available, but solely in left-hand drive and in petrol, petrol and compressed natural gas, petrol and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and electric guises. It is not being marketed with a diesel engine.
Access to the 0.96m3 load bay is via a single rear hatch, which has a heated rear window with a wash-wipe system.
The presence of glazing raises load area security concerns, so buyers may want to think about having a grille fitted to the inside of the window to deter thieves.
However, there is the risk that this will impair rearward vision – which is already affected by the full-height mesh grille attached to the top of the half-height steel bulkhead – and you might want to consider specifying reversing sensors as well.
A tailored rubber cover protects the cargo bed from minor scratches and scrapes while a mixture of plastic mouldings and carpet protects the sides.
Four load tie-down points should help you secure items that might otherwise slide about.