James Dallas is impressed by our light van’s stop/start system and load carrying versatility but feels the need to keep his coat on
The nature of urban driving, which works the gearbox hard in the ebb and flow of traffic and necessitates frequent halts at junctions and traffic lights means matching the manufacturer’s official fuel consumption figure is nigh on impossible.
Nevertheless, the efficiency of our Connect’s stop/start system is impressive and has been only slightly perturbed by the onslaught of the post-Christmas winter cold snap, which means it takes a couple of minutes to kick in rather than being active from the moment the engine fires up.
While it is one of the smoothest systems we have come across it still suffers from the occasional blip – sometimes stalling when you stop in traffic and need to pull off immediately for instance. Selecting neutral and dipping the clutch re-starts the engine quickly but there is a button on the dash to override stop/start if you prefer.
With temperatures hovering around zero the heater, however, struggles to warm up the cabin and it can be some time before occupants feel snug enough to start shedding their winter layers.
This is partly due, of course, to exposure to the loadspace through the mesh bulkhead.
With the rear seats in position the load capacity is restricted to 1.2m3 but with its relatively high roof of 1237mm (the Connect only comes with one roof height) the van can still swallow a couple of kids’ bikes, although this does mean the dog gets to travel in the cab. It also provides more than enough space for the sort of old toys, books and household goods that may lead to a run to the charity shop or for a few sacks of garden waste.
For more unwieldy items the rear seats can be folded down and the bulkhead moved forward on rails to increase the load length to 1753mm and volume to 2.2m3. The maximum width is 1268mm. This facility proved invaluable when it came to safely transporting a 7ft Christmas tree home without having to bend it permanently out of shape.
Another generously proportioned feature of our Connect is its lockable glove box. However, a word of warning – if you try to stuff it too full items are likely to get lost down the back, a fate that recently befell the fuel sheet used to record the van’s mileage. Luckily the gap between hinge and footwell wall is so large I was able to insert a hand to retrieve it.
Ford Transit Connect 1.6TDCi
Claimed combined consumption 61.4mpg
Our average consumption 43.1mpg
Price (ex VAT or options) £15,950