First Drive: Ford Transit Courier

Date: Friday, September 19, 2014   |  

Ford is finally reaching the end of its new product bonanza, and has saved the littlest for last with the arrival of the Transit Courier, which it describes as the cherry on the cake of the now four-model Transit range.

The range is simple, with three engine options of 75hp 1.5 and 95hp 1.6 diesels, and the 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol unit that will account for around 5% of sales.

All but the most powerful diesel are available in both Base and Trend specification, though the £600 gap between the two trims should be bridged by most as it brings a side-loading door as well as a wealth of valuable comfort equipment including auto lights and wipers, powered and heated door mirrors, electric windows, leather steering wheel, CD player with Ford’s Sync voice control system and a height-adjustable drivers seat with lumber and armrest. Add underseat and overhead storage and, plus the more aesthetically pleasing wheel trims and body-coloured mirrors and door handles, rather than bare steel wheels and black plastic trim. All-in-all, it’s a logical step up for very reasonable money, given the extras involved and the likelihood of smaller businesses and owner-operators getting behind the wheel. All vehicles get Bluetooth and a USB input.

The 75hp 1.5 diesel is an older unit that the 1.6, and despite the latter being more powerful, it’s also 1.7mpg more efficient on the official test, though the extra £400 to step up to the 1.6 will fund that economy difference for quite some distance. If you’re stationed in urban surroundings then the 75hp is fine, though the power difference is certainly noticeable and will be appreciated by anyone doing higher speeds or distances.

As well as the fresh looks, the interior is where the Courier makes its biggest impact, continuing Ford’s fine trend of car-like cabins. The Trend spec gets a flimsy overhead shelf that doesn’t feel like you should risk putting anything too heavy in it, but all the switchgear is logically placed and a step above the quality in the Citroen Nemo/Fiat Fiorino/Peugeot Bipper trio that will be the Courier’s key rivals.

Despite the official figures putting the Courier at 2.3m3 of load area space versus 2.5 for the French/Italian trio, Ford claims best-in-class load space. When pushed on the claim, the company said that while it isn’t saying its rivals’s figure is wrong, when Ford measured its competitors it found the results to be interesting, and is comfortable with its best-in-class claim. The load length can be increased by a metre to 2.6m with the optional steel mesh bulkhead that combines with the flexible front passenger seat to allow loads to be pushed through into the passeger seat area.

Other comparisons to draw with the Nemo, Fiorino and Bipper include the pricing that leaves the Courier a couple of hundred pounds higher, though better equipped, and the Ford’s efficiency pips its small rivals. It’s also got a longer load bay, the payload is the same as the Bipper and Nemo. It’s also worth mentioning the only other real rival, the Mercedes-Benz Citan Compact, which is significantly more expensive than the Ford or its competitors, and also can’t match the Ford’s efficiency or particularly payload, but does have the advantage of the premium badge.

Driving experience, equipment levels and quality, efficiency and running costs expected to be lower than rivals, all wrapped up in a good-looking package makes the Courier an excellent addition to the market.

 

Verdict

Cracking new addition raises the bar significantly in the small van segment



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