With manufacturers seemingly more eager to promote light commercials the size of Citroen’s Berlingo and Renault’s Kangoo, slightly smaller vans such as Fiat Professional’s Fiorino Cargo and Ford’s Transit Courier are rather thin on the ground these days.
And that’s a pity because their compact dimensions and ability to nip quickly through busy traffic make them ideal for city centre delivery work.
Nor should they be dismissed if you spend a lot of your time scooting down narrow country lanes – better to be in a small van that can squeeze into a field gateway than a big one if you meet a tractor hauling a trailer full of spuds coming the other way, as tractor drivers tend to take no prisoners.
The winner of this year’s What Van? Small Van of the Year Award, an updated version of the Transit Courier was presented at last year’s Hanover commercial vehicle show. It features a six-speed manual gearbox, instead of the previous five-speed offering, plus changes to the powertrain to keep it in line with updates to the Euro6 emission regulations.
Customers can pick from a 1.5-litre TDCi diesel at either 75hp or 100hp, or a 100hp 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol. No electric version is on offer, although the little van would be an ideal candidate for battery technology if it is going to be deployed as a big-city runabout.
Ford is, of course, planning to offer its entire range with electrified options encompassing everything from mild hybrid to battery-electric over the next few years, and air-quality-conscious urban authorities will increasingly expect van owners to opt for electric solutions if they don’t want to be penalised financially.
Transit Courier diesels are now equipped with Active Grille Shutter technology. It controls airflow and reduces aerodynamic drag, thereby boosting fuel efficiency and shrinking the vehicle’s CO2 footprint.
The specification walk is Base, Trend, Limited and Sport. We opted to try the Sport, with the 100hp diesel sitting under its black-striped bonnet.
The Transit Courier is also marketed as a five-seater Kombi, with three rear seats. Fold them down and you can use it to shift cargo or tools.