The little Ford van boasts exemplary handling but its engine can struggle with passengers and a load on board, as James Dallas discovers
One of the most impressive strengths of the Ford Transit Courier, and one that it has in common with the rest of the blue oval’s light commercial vehicle line-up, is its outstanding handling characteristics.
The little van is able to weave its way nimbly through urban traffic, making light of the challenges presented by narrowed lanes, road works and temporary roundabouts, and once let off the leash on B-roads and country lanes it is a pleasure to be behind the wheel. The description of vans possesing “car-like” drivability is overused but in the case of the Courier it is, for a change, accurate.
However, while its handling is exemplary the Courier can be let down by the lack of power on tap from its 1.5-litre 75hp diesel engine.
With five occupants in the cab and luggage in the back our Kombi struggled to make it up a series of steep(ish) hills in Gloucestershire, requiring changes down through the gears until wheezing to the summits in second.
We have also learnt to select a lower gear as a precaution when approaching roundabouts to make sure we can accelerate smartly away from oncoming traffic if required.
On the other hand, when bowling along at motorway speeds we still find ourselves pining for a sixth gear to improve fuel consumption and reduce engine noise, which admittedly is not overly intrusive. Another bug bear is the absence of cruise control, which again can help boost economy as well as giving the driver’s right foot a rest on long journeys.
So far, we have found the manufacturer’s official combined cycle fuel economy figure of 68.9mpg to be wildly optimistic. Perhaps this is because we spend much of our time driving in the city – but Ford’s urban estimate of 60.1mpg is still unattainable, in fact we are failing to achieve 50mpg. Our Kombi doesn’t have stop/start and this would undoubtedly improve consumption due to the amount of time spent idling at traffic lights and in queues, but if stop/start is included Ford increases its official figures to 64.2mpg in urban environments and to 72.4mpg on the combined cycle. I may be no eco warrior, but such figures seem to have little basis in reality.