Anything but transitory
The Ford Transit van has made an indelible imprint on the global light commercial vehicle scene for more than half a century since its inception in 1965. The latest iteration represents the pinnacle of light cargo van development the world over.
It’s said that in excess of a staggering 8,000,000 Transit vans have been sold since the model was first introduced in the mid 1960s, reportedly making it the third best-selling van of all time.
Transit vans and light trucks have been produced across four distinct generations – progressively introduced in 1965, 1986, 2000 and 2013 – with each platform incorporating a number of facelifts and freshen-ups.
The first product of the combined engineering efforts of Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany, the Transit was initially marketed throughout Western Europe and Australia.
By the end of the 20th century Transit had almost gone fully global, with this feat finally accomplished when it superseded Ford’s E-Series van in America in 2015.
Transit is claimed to have been the best-selling light commercial vehicle in Europe for 40 years, and in some countries the term ‘transit van’ has become generic for any LCV in the Transit’s size bracket.
While initially designed for the European market, the Ford Transit is now produced in Asia, North America and Europe for worldwide buyers.
The latest range includes four variations of the compact Transit Custom van – two short- and two long-wheelbase variants with either low- or high-roof – designated 300S and 340L respectively.
The larger van range includes the 350L foursome in mid- and high-roof iterations along with the choice between rear- and front-wheel drive.
Then there’s the jumbo-sized rear-wheel-drive 350E and 470E vans along with 470E single- and dual-cab/chassis units.
All are powered by a Euro 6 compliant 2.0 litre ‘EcoBlue’ diesel engine which in the Custom versions delivers 96kW at 3,500rpm and 385Nm between 1,500 and 2,000rpm.
The larger vans and cab/chassis variants receive uprated outputs of 125kW at 3,500rpm and 405Nm between 1,750 and 2,500rpm.
All have fuel-saving idle stop/start functionality as standard equipment.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all but the two 350L versions which sport a six-speed automatic. The auto is optionally available on all other variants.
According to Ford, the low-roof 300S Custom returns combined cycle fuel figures of 15.4km/l (43.5mpg) and 13.9km/l (39.3mpg) for manual and automatic versions respectively.
Transit Custom vans have a 72-litre fuel capacity while the larger versions hold 100 litres. Each has AdBlue tank capacity of 21 litres.
Brakes are four-wheel disc on all variants and suspension is independent at the front using MacPherson struts with single leaf springs at the rear.
All versions come standard with 16-inch steel wheels, except the manual Custom 300S variants which have 15-inch steelies. Alloy wheels are optionally available across the Custom range.
Dependent upon wheelbase lengths, kerb-to-kerb turning circles range from a compact 10.9 metres with the 300S manual with 15-inch wheels, through to 14.0 metres with the 470E cab/chassis variants.
Aside from the 470E versions which have dual rear wheels, all ride on singles at the rear.
Front and rear mudflaps are standard across the board.
In the all-important load lugging stakes, the Custom 340L LWB versions have a gross vehicle mass (GVM) rating of 3,400kg; the high-roof manual variant having a payload capacity of 1,250kg. Additionally, it can tow a braked trailer weighing up to 2,800kg and has a maximum gross combination mass (GCM) rating of 5,365kg.
At the heavy end of the Transit range, the 470E double cab/chassis has respective GVM, GCM and payload capacity of 4,490, 7,000 and 2,200kg. Each of the three 470E variants can tow a braked trailer weighing up to 3,500kg.
When it comes to safety, the Transit Custom van range comes standard with a remarkably comprehensive suite of active and passive features – starting with no less than six airbags including driver, near-side passenger, front side curtain and front side seat.
There’s also electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist (EBA), cruise control with adjustable speed limiter, dynamic stability control (DSC) incorporating anti-lock (ABS), hill launch assist and rollover mitigation.
The list goes on including load adaptive control, side wind stabilisation, trailer sway control, traction control, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera.
And if that’s not enough, there’s an optional Technology Pack which adds pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, active cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, driver impairment monitor, automatic high beam control, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, upgraded instrument cluster with 4.2-inch colour screen, heated windscreen and tyre pressure monitoring system.
As a supplement to the already high level of safety features fitted as standard, Technology Pack endows Transit Custom variants with virtually every conceivable safety feature that would be expected in the latest luxury cars – yet this is a commercial van.
In sum, the latest Ford Transit range represents the cutting edge in commercial van development.
The Custom variants in particular offer contemporary styling, ample load carrying and towing abilities and a seemingly unbeatable array of safety features – both standard and optional.