Determined to retain its long-held position as the UK’s light commercial market leader, a country mile ahead of its closest rival, Ford has been busy upgrading its line-up.

Among those vans that have received a makeover is the Transit Connect.

The latest version gets a revamped front with a new three-bar Transit grille, slimmer headlights and other styling changes. Front-wheel aero deflectors and a new axle aero shield all help to cut aerodynamic drag by between 2% and 4%, says Ford, and Active Grille Shutter makes a contribution too. It closes automatically to reduce drag when a cooling flow of air to the radiator is not required.

The cab interior has been reworked as well, with a revised instrument panel featuring a new central control area.

Pop open the lid of the bonnet and you will see either a new 1.5-litre Ecoblue diesel at 75hp, 100hp or 120hp, or a new version of the 1.0-litre Ecoboost three-cylinder petrol engine with 100hp on tap. It features cylinder deactivation, whereby one of the cylinders temporarily stops working to aid fuel economy if you are running lightly laden along a flat stretch of highway and don’t require quite so much pulling power.

A six-speed manual gearbox now comes as standard across the range with a new eight-speed gearbox offered as an option.

Customers can choose from either short- or long-wheelbase models. The former offers a 2.9m3 cargo box expanding to 3.6m3 if you opt for the latter. Double Cab-in-Van variants are also available with rear seats plus a cargo area behind them.

The spec walk is Base, Trend and Limited and will soon be joined by the Sport version. Launched at the recent IAA Hanover Commercial Vehicle Show in Germany, it comes with alloy wheels, an exterior styling kit and matt-black sports stripes with silver or orange accents.

The Connect is being marketed with a variety of driver assistance features including Intelligent Speed Limiter, which enables automatic adjustment of the van’s maximum speed to ensure it remains within legal limits; Pre-Collision Assist with the Pedestrian Detection emergency braking system; and Side Wind Stabilisation.

We got to grips with a long-wheelbase 100hp 1.5TDCI Ecoblue 210 in Trend trim – and weweren’t disappointed.


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Load bay

Rear access to the cargo bay is by means of twin doors that can be swung through 90°, and through 180° if you press a couple of buttons.

A sliding nearside door is fitted and a full-height steel bulkhead will stop any loose pieces of cargo from slithering forwards and ending up in the cab. If you want to lash your load down then you can secure it to six substantial-looking rings set into the floor. In our case most of the load bay was protected from scratches and scrapes by a mixture of plastic mouldings and sheets of ply lining.

Ford’s build quality has improved significantly in recent years, and while it’s not up to Volkswagen standards, it’s not far off. All the doors shut with a satisfying clunk and nothing squeaks, rattles or looks as though it’s about to work loose and drop off.


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Interior and equipment

Assessing a van’s merits increasingly involves focusing on all the connected in-cab facilities it comes with that should hopefully make the driver’s life easier and safer.

Our demonstrator boasted an optional package that includes satellite navigation and Ford’s Sync 3 communications and entertainment system that’s easy to comprehend and use. It can be integrated with AppLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and allows voice commands to be used to control certain functions.

The package also includes rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera that shows what is behind you when you engage reverse, a six-inch colour touchscreen that sticks up from the top of the fascia and looks like a tablet computer, plus Emergency Assist. The last-named feature means that help will be summoned promptly if there is an accident.

Van drivers who secretly fear their inability to parallel park in tight slots – you know who you are, no need to be ashamed – may be comforted by the presence of a clever optional system that will help accomplish it for you. All you need to do is keep control of the accelerator, gears and brakes and Active Park Assist will guide you into position. It’s all a bit spooky, and doubtless a harbinger of things to come.

Sensors are installed front and back and beep if you are getting too close to a hazard. The proximity of the risk is shown on a birds-eye view of the van’s outline, which appears on the aforementioned touchscreen.

To all that can be added yet another option that was provided: FordPass Connect. It is a modem that allows the creation of an in-van Wi-Fi hotspot as part of a package that includes three months or 3GB of complimentary data.

Thereafter you can buy data bundles from Vodafone. It also ensures that your Ford satnav gets real-time traffic updates every 30 seconds. Pair it with your smartphone using the FordPass app and you can lock and unlock your van remotely even if it is parked on the other side of town. It allows you to carry out all sorts of remote checks on your Connect, including how much fuel is in the tank, what the tyre pressures are, and how many miles it has done. It will also let you know if a bulb has failed or if the oil needs topping up.

All of the foregoing features illustrate the direction van manufacturers are heading in: towards onboard systems that will dramatically expand connectivity and make vehicles increasingly semi-autonomous. In this context it is worth noting that Ford used this year’s IAA Show to launch two new connectivity packages – Ford Telematics and Ford Data Services – that will allow businesses to extract data from their vehicles and view it remotely.

Returning to the Connect, both the driver’s seat and the steering column are height-adjustable and Trend comes with electric windows and heated and electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, not to mention a Quickclear heated windscreen.

In-cab stowage facilities include a shelf above the screen that extends to the full width of the cab, a deep, lidded, but not lockable glove box, bins in each of the doors, and a shelf on top of the dashboard, on the passenger side. There is another shelf above the heating and ventilation controls. Our test van was equipped with optional air-conditioning.

A console between the seats plays host to a deep tray, a couple of cup-holders, two USB sockets and a 12V power point.

Our van was fitted with Traction Control, which can be switched off. So can the auto stop/start system and the parking sensors.

Onboard safety systems include ABS, electronic stability control and electronic brakeforce distribution along with Hill Start Assist. A driver’s airbag is fitted as are front fog lamps, and disc brakes are installed all round.

Our test Connect sat on 16-inch steel wheels embellished by full-width silver-coloured plastic trims and shod with Continental ContiPremiumContact2 205/60 R16C tyres. A full-size spare wheel is provided.

Independent MacPherson strut suspension with a stabiliser bar helps support the front while a semi-independent twist-beam suspension set-up is deployed at the rear.

The turning circle is 12.5m wall to wall, shrinking to 12.2m kerb to kerb. Electric power steering, meanwhile, comes as standard.


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Engine and gearbox

Fitted with a fixed-geometry turbocharger and an intercooler, the Connect’s four-cylinder 16-valve common-rail diesel develops its top power output at 3,600rpm.

Maximum torque of 240Nm bites across a 2,000-2,500rpm plateau.

Our demonstrator met Euro6.2 and required AdBlue to do it. The filler point is under a flap on the side of the body next to the diesel filler point.


If it’s sheer driveability you are looking for then you’ve come to the right place.

For your money you get a remarkably smooth gear change, sharp handling, responsive steering, and a comfortable ride from a suspension system that is capable of coping with all but the worst of highway surfaces.

The Transit Connect accelerates strongly through the gears and in-cab noise levels are commendably low bar the occasional and not unpleasant throaty growl from the engine when you press the accelerator pedal hard.

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We averaged around 55mpg over a mixture of steep, twisting rural roads, town centres and motorways – that’s less than the official figure, but not too bad.

Press the EcoSelect button and fuel economy should improve. In exchange your ability to accelerate briskly will be reduced and the speed of the heating and ventilation system’s blower motor will fall.

Switching to EcoSelect makes little difference to your performance when you are rolling along the motorway, but you may find that steep hills present more of a challenge than usual if you happen to have a bit of weight on board.

What you can always do is follow the advice proffered by EcoMode. It prompts the driver to adopt more economical behaviour at the wheel based on the continued analysis of driving style and fuel consumption. Feedback is provided through the instrument cluster display.
Service intervals are variable up to a maximum two years/25,000 miles while the warranty lasts for three years/100,000 miles.

Side rubbing strips protected our van’s optional metallic paint finish from minor damage. The front and rear bumpers were the same colour as the body.

Ford Transit Connect Trend 1.5TDCI EcoBlue 210 LWB 100hp 6sp

Price (ex VAT)     £17,965
Price range (ex VAT)      £15,415-£21,215
Gross payload     695kg
Load length    2,153mm
Load width (min/max)     1,226/1,538mm
Load bay height    1,269mm
Load volume     3.6m3
Loading height     599mm
Rear door aperture     1,248×1,136mm
Side door aperture     660×1,228mm
Gross vehicle weight      2,125kg
Braked trailer towing weight     1,300kg
Residual value      19.4%*
Cost per mile     37.1p*
Engine size/power     498cc, 100hp @ 3,600rpm
Torque    240Nm @ 2,000-2,500rpm
Gearbox      6-spd
Fuel economy     60.1mpg (combined, WLTP)
Fuel tank    60 litres
CO2     123g/km
Warranty     3yrs/100,000mls
Service intervals    2yrs/25,000mls
Insurance group     31
Price as tested     £20,625

* After 4yrs/80,000mls; Source: KwikCarcost

Options Fitted

Satnav with Sync 3, rear-view camera and parking sensors      £980
Air-conditioning     £600
Active Park Assist    £550
Metallic paint    £300
FordPass Connect    £230


Fiat Professional Doblo Cargo
Price (ex VAT) £13,910-£19,510
Load volume    3.4-5.0cm3
Gross payload    750-1,005kg
Engines     95hp 1.4 petrol, 95hp 1.3 diesel, 105hp, 120hp 1.6 diesel
Verdict: A versatile package offering impressive ride and equally impressive engines. Check out the capacious 5.0m3 version – not pretty, but it’s practical – and the Work Up if you need a compact dropside pick-up. Sales should be a lot higher given this vehicle’s virtues.

Renault Kangoo/Kangoo Maxi
Price (ex VAT)  £15,530-£21,250
Load volume     3.0-4.0m3
Gross payload    650-800kg
Engines    75hp, 90hp, 110hp 1.5 diesel, 44kW electric

Verdict: Like the Doblo Cargo a somewhat underrated vehicle that deserves to be more popular. Frugal diesels are coupled with a gear change better than you might expect, but it’s the Z.E. 33 electric you really need to consider given renewed climate change worries. Its range is now longer than it was.

Volswagen Caddy/Caddy Maxi
Price (ex VAT)  £15,065-£24,395
Load volume 3.2-4.2m3
Gross payload  545-736kg
Engines 84hp 1.2 petrol, 102hp 1.0 petrol, 125hp 1.4 petrol, 75hp, 102hp, 150hp, 2.0 diesel

Verdict: Seemingly built to last forever, with unimpeachable on-the-road performance and handling, It boasts some of the most competent diesel engines we’ve come across. Styling flair is lacking, though, and in-cab noise levels are a bit too high. Electric version on its way.

The Final Verdict



 Well thought-out, with invaluable features as standard/optional.



Comfortable and well laid-out with plenty of storage space.



 Pock-marked highways failed to disturb  Connect’s composure.



Low in-cab noise levels and an absence of squeaks and rattles.

Load area


Big tie-down rings and tough bulkhead are definite plus points.



 Both are exemplary.



Well-matched, with the gear change among the smoothest.

Standard equipment


Most bases covered but rear parking sensors should be there.

Operating costs


Mpg shouldn’t break bank. Warranty/service intervals look okay.

What Van? subjective rating


Excellent package shows why Ford is the UK’s market leader.

Overall Rating 82/100