Ford Transit ECOnetic Brief Test
Despite the Transit outselling the competition every month by a huge margin, Ford upgrades its iconic panel van range on a regular basis. The latest versions, whether front-, rear- or all-wheel drive, are now powered by a brand new line-up of 2.2-litre Euro 5 diesels, all of which feature variable geometry turbos and a diesel particulate filter.
And there have been other changes implemented under the bonnet. Re-designed hydraulic engine mounts, gear linkages and a new acoustic engine cover, combined with improved dashboard insulation, floor, step well and headliner material revisions have all been employed to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
To differentiate Euro 5 Transits from their Euro 4 predecessors, they get a new silver-detailed front grille, daytime running lights and the power output rating on the rear door is highlighted in blue rather than red. Bar these changes, Transit’s exterior and cab design remain the same. VansA2Z has been putting a 100hp SWB 280 ECOnetic through its paces.
Driving the front wheels via a new six-speed manual transmission the all-new entry-level engine produces maximum power at 3,500rpm and develops a healthy peak torque of 310Nm at a lowly 1,300rpm. On top of low rolling resistance tyres (Continental VancoEco on the test vehicle) ECOnetic brings with it an Auto-Start-Stop system combined with a 70mph speed limiter. Both can be de-activated at the push of a dash-mounted button, but if preferred, this function can be deleted.
On top of this the majority of new Transits come with two other fuel-saving features, namely Smart Regenerative Charging and Advanced Battery Management System.
Ford claims the SWB ECOnetic uses 8.5 per cent less fuel than the previous version. When fitted with the optional 62mph speed limiter, it should manage combined cycle fuel economy of 43.5mpg with average CO2 emissions of 173g/km. To further reduce running costs service intervals have been extended to 20,000 miles.
As far as active safety is concerned all Transits come kitted-out with Bosch’s latest ESP package. Apart from ABS it boasts a host of electronic features which really come into their own when road conditions deteriorate.
With a gross payload potential of 1,077kg the SWB low roof ECOnetic provides 6.5m3 of cargo space, accessed via twin side-hinged symmetrical rear doors, which can be opened to 180°, or the standard nearside sliding side door. Maximum load length is 2,582mm with a roof height of 1,430mm and maximum width of 1,762mm, reducing to 1,390mm between the wheel boxes. Rear loading height is 619mm when unladen.
Maximum front axle loading is 1,450kg, rising to 1,650kg at the rear and it is capable of towing a braked trailer with a gross weight up to 650kg.
A full steel bulkhead is fitted as standard and eight sturdy load-tie rings are provided; six on the floor and one above each wheel box. MDF rear door trim and a full length rubber floor mat are available as optional extras.
There are no alterations to the cab interior — we’ll have to wait for the next generation Transit for that — but it’s none the worse for this. The height-adjustable driver’s seat is comfortable and supportive, and the driving position is good thanks to ergonomic gearstick, wheel, seat and pedal alignment.
Stowage space is exceptional with large bins in the doors, a deep hole in the dash to the right of the steering wheel for a large bottle of water — there’s one to the left of the lidded glovebox in front of the passenger as well — alongside a couple of smaller cubbies. Two lidded compartments reside at each end of the top of the dash and there’s a tray in the middle that can be swung towards the cab interior to provide two cup holders.
ECOnetic’s standard specification is high with remote central lock, electric windows and door mirrors, and an airbag for the driver. Additionally it comes with air conditioning, Bluetooth-connectivity and there’s a Aux-in socket to plug a MP3 player into the good quality radio/CD player.
On the Road
Transit has always been a pleasure, if a bit of a noisy one, to drive, but the fitment of the new 2.2-litre has taken it to a different level; both in terms of performance and refinement. The 100hp pulls well thanks to the torque available and its low rev delivery is particularly impressive. It doesn’t feel at all gutless either, despite being powered by the entry level engine.
The Auto-Start-Stop system is worth a special mention. It works efficiently and quickly and our advice is to specify it as an option without hesitation if it’s not fitted as standard. Another worthy aspect of this Transit, or any one for that matter, is the quality of the dash-mounted gearchange. It sets the benchmark for all panel vans.
What really sets these latest Transits apart from their predecessors, however, is the reduction in noise levels. Undoubtedly the engines themselves are more refined, but all the additional attention to detail carried out by Ford’s development engineers with regard to NVH has really paid off. Anyone used to driving a previous version will be astounded by the lack of engine noise audible in the cab.
Transit doesn’t disappoint in the ride and handling department, either. The steering is well weighted with plenty of feedback and responds quickly to inputs. It corners well with little body roll.
All Transits come with a three-year/100,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty along with one-year Ford Assistance cover. Another bit of good news for buyers of a latest Transit is that the anti-corrosion cover has risen from eight to 12 years.
With its all-new Euro 5 diesel Transit ECOnetic promises to deliver good fuel consumption, but the real revelation of Ford’s latest panel van package is the level of refinement. This is without doubt the quietest Transit ever.
Click here for the full report from the European Press Launch and here for the Ford Transit Review & Buyers' Guide.