Ford Transit Courier review

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Ford's second generation Transit Courier is a small van with big ideas. Jonathan Crouch reports

Ten Second Review

Ford has re-invented its smallest van, the Transit Courier, for a new era. That means a full-EV version. But the brand still also offers this little LCV with the more affordable option of petrol or diesel combustion power. Either way, it's practical, affordable to run and surprisingly practical.

Background

Today, a Ford Transit can be many quite separate things. Depending on the model range you prefer, select from either large or very large, compact or, as in this case, spaciously small. Welcome to the Transit Courier, here resigned in second generation form. Like its predecessor, which was introduced back in 2014, it's aimed at the urban delivery market and businesses whose cargo needs don't really justify a stretch to Ford's larger Focus hatch-derived 'Transit Connect' model. And it's built by the Blue Oval brand's Ford Otosan commercial vehicles division in Romania, where the EcoSport crossover used to be made.

As before, as well as the Transit Courier panel van, there'll be a Tourneo Courier small MPV version of the same model. But this time round, combustion versions of both will also be joined by two full-electric models, the E-Transit Courier and the E-Tourneo Courier. Ford reckons that LCVs like the Transit Courier have traditionally under-performed in terms of their usability. In response, this MK2 Courier model has the potential for slightly greater carriage capacity and a significantly greater payload. The Blue Oval brand also believes that it brings to this segment traditional Transit toughness. So, a lot's being promised. Let's see what this van can deliver.

Driving Experience

It's a mark of the slowness of the van market to adopt the current electrified culture that Ford feels the need not only to continue to offer combustion versions of the Transit Courier but also to continue to offer a diesel. That's the usual 1.5-litre EcoBlue unit with 100PS. The fossil-fuelled alternative is a 1.0-litre three cylinder EcoBoost petrol unit with 125PS, which other markets also get in 100PS form and which can be ordered with an optional 7-speed auto gearbox.

Obviously you'll have to have an auto (the usual EV 1-speeder) if you choose the E-Transit Courier. This has a 134bhp electric motor mounted on the front axle. There's no dual motor AWD version. Expect a battery size around 54kWh and a range of around 200 miles - about 37 miles more than rival Citroen e-Berlingo, Vauxhall Combo Electric or Peugeot e-Partner competitors. Top speed is 90mph and there's 290Nm of pulling power.

Design and Build

This second generation Transit Courier is 'bigger in every dimension', according to Ford's Design Chief Amko Leenarts. And it's smarter, more sophisticated look is mirrored by equally advanced underpinnings - a heavily revised version of the B2E platform used in the Puma small SUV. Inside, it's even more different, thanks to the addition of two big 12-inch screens, one for the SYNC4 central infotainment display, the other for the digital instrument panel. The latest wireless 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring connectivity comes included.

There's also plenty of cabin storage, including space for tablets and pads, paperwork and of course, on-the-move beverages. The centre console reveals an enormous storage bin big enough to hold a laptop bag. You'll notice the unusual 'squircle' steering wheel design, supposed to improve leg room and visibility for the driver. There's also a column-mounted gear shifter, push-button ignition and an electronic handbrake, all features intended to deliver increased configurable storage space. And as an option, Ford offers an 'Office Pack', which includes extra lighting and a fold-away table.

Market and Model

Expect prices for the petrol model to start from just under £20,000 excluding VAT. You'll need more like £30,000 for the E-Transit Courier, but there'll be a government grant to help with that. Across the range, the so-called 'onboard digital experience' is centred around the striking 'digiboard' instrument panel that features a full digital instrument cluster and SYNC 4 infotainment controlled via a large 12inch touchscreen. The fully-connected cabin features wireless 'Android Auto' and 'Apple CarPlay' integration, as well as a phone charging pad to stay connected on the go. Over-the-air updates can improve functionality over time without the need to visit a dealership. Air conditioning and a heated windscreen will also be standard-fit on most models.

Driver and cargo safety are paramount concerns for van operators and the Transit Courier aims to set a new benchmark in the segment with its comprehensive suite of advanced driver assistance systems as standard. An optional further bundle includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centring and Stop & Go, a Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, Intersection Assist and Reverse Brake Assist for more peace of mind in urban driving.

Every Transit Courier features a built-in modem as standard, enabling always-on connectivity with the Ford Pro ecosystem and wireless software updates that can evolve the vehicle's capability over time without requiring a dealer visit.

Practicalities and Costs

Practicality's taken a big step forward with this MK2 Transit Courier model. The 2,900-litre cargo bay is 26% bigger and the 700kg payload capacity is 118kg greater. This van can tow up to 750kg. There's also an optional load-through bulkhead that enables the carriage of items up to 2.6-metres long. Width between the rear wheel arches is 1,220mm, enabling the compact van to carry two Euro pallets for the first time. And in all-electric E-Transit Courier form, this LCV offers a 44-litre under-bonnet 'frunk' for storing the charging leads.

If you choose the 1.0-litre petrol version, the official fuel stat is around 50mpg on the combined cycle and well over 40mpg should be easily achievable on a regular basis. Expect a CO2 official reading of around 120g/km. We'd expect better from the diesel version of course; think in terms of around 65mpg and 110g/km of CO2 and you won't be too far out.

As for the E-Tourneo Courier EV, well as we told you in our 'Driving' section, its 54kWh battery offers a range of around 230 miles. This van can DC charge at up to 100kW, which will give you a 10-80% battery replenishment time of under 35 minutes - and 54 miles of range can be added in just 10 minutes. Connected up to your 7kW garage wall box at home, you should easily be able to completely recharge this LCV overnight.

Summary

The segment for small city-shaped vans is, well, small. So this second generation Transit Courier didn't have to be as good as it is. In the metal though, it re-defines what an LCV of this kind should be like. Why? Because it offers almost as much space and payload as a compact van from the next class up. And will transport it all more economically, even if you don't go for the full-electric version.

If you're an urban-based operator, it might all be enough to make the prospect of down-sizing your van a pleasant possibility. And if it isn't, your Ford sales person will move you quickly on to the Transit Connect, the next model up in the brand's LCV hierarchy. Many target buyers though, will find this Courier quite sufficient for their needs, swayed also perhaps by the engaging driving dynamics that come courtesy of the Puma-derived underpinnings. Which means that if you're looking for a more efficient and engaging choice for your fleet of small vans, opting for one of these could be a good Courier move.

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