Ford Transit Connect 2013 review

Swapping the old model’s square-cut, boxy styling in favour of more sculpted, flowing lines, Ford’s new Transit Connect is the latest addition to the Big Blue Oval’s reinvigorated light commercial vehicle line-up.
Petrol Power
There is a possibility that it could even prompt some dyed-in-the-wool diesel fans to switch loyalties and opt for petrol power instead. The newcomer is the first Ford van to be marketed with the 1.0-litre 100hp EcoBoost petrol engine, alongside the more-familiar 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel at 75hp, 95hp and 115hp. Twice winner of the International Engine of the Year award, EcoBoost can achieve a combined fuel economy figure of 50.4mpg along with CO2 emissions of 129g/km says Ford.
Ford bootDiesel Delivers
That still leaves it some way behind the most frugal of the diesels, however. In ECOnetic guise the 95hp version can achieve a combined fuel consumption of 70.6mpg according to official figures Ford points out; a 34 per cent improvement over the nearest equivalent model in the previous Transit Connect line-up, it adds. CO2 output is 105g/km. ECOnetic keeps fuel consumption down through the use of optimised gearing with a longer final drive ratio and a fixed 62mph speed limiter. Other fixed and switchable limiters are available as options. Service intervals are set at up to 20,000 miles or 12 months.
Also fitted is a package that includes Auto-Start-Stop, Active Grille Shutter and Smart Regenerative Charging. The self-same package comes as standard with EcoBoost and is optionally available on the 75hp and 95hp diesels.
High Specification
All models come with ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution and Electronic Stability Control and either a five- or a six-speed manual gearbox. Up to three people can be seated in the cab depending on the model selected and there are three specification levels: Base, Trend and Limited.
ford-transit-connect-2013-lp2Even with Base you get a full-height steel bulkhead, a DAB radio and electric windows, while Trend adds an EcoMode driver information system along with electric mirrors, front fog lights and a heated windscreen. March on up to Limited and you are talking about 16in alloy wheels, dual-zone air-conditioning, a heated driver’s seat, cruise control and rear parking sensors.
ford 3Load Area
In common with the departing model, the latest Transit Connect is up for grabs with either a short- (L1) or a long-(L2) wheelbase. Load cubes are 2.9m³ and 3.6m³ respectively with payload capacities ranging from 625kg to 1,000kg depending on the version chosen. The cargo areas of both models boast bright LED lighting while standard fixing points at waist and shoulder height permit extra tie-down loops or racking to be installed more easily.
With clearance of 1,226mm between the rear wheel boxes each model can carry two Europallets. They will usually be slid through the back doors but a pallet of this size can also be loaded through the L2’s nearside sliding side door.
ford-transit-connect-2013-lp3bFold the outer passenger seat flat and make use of the load-through hatch (where fitted) in the bulkhead and you can transport items such as pipes or rolls of flooring as much as 3.0m (L1) or 3.4m (L2) long. This is made easier thanks to a concave profile in the folded seat’s back and the dashboard having been designed to allow long items to be slid underneath.
If all you want to do is carry a big carton that you do not have room for in the cargo area then you can fold the outer passenger seat upwards and create space for it on the cab floor. The inner seat flips up to reveal a hidden storage box.
A cleverly-crafted profile at the top of the full steel bulkhead gives L2 the unusual ability for a van of its size to accommodate 8 x 4ft sheets.
Double-Cab-in-Van (DCiV) and Kombi derivatives are being sold alongside the mainstream van. Both vehicles can transport five people — seven if you opt for the L2 Kombi — and come with flexible rear seat configurations. The DCiV features a movable mesh bulkhead while the L2 Kombi’s back seats can be folded down to create a flat cargo bed.
Safety & Security
Security measures include a remote locking system that now features two channels with different frequencies to make the lives of thieves just that bit more difficult and can be configured to the needs of individual operators. Anti-tamper shielding of the latches should prevent the door locks being overcome by drilling or chiselling says Ford.
Additional safety measures on offer include Active City Stop, designed to help drivers avoid low-speed shunts with stationary or slow-moving traffic ahead, and Ford SYNC with Emergency Assistance.
In addition to allowing most Bluetooth-enabled phones, USB drives and MP3 players to be operated with voice commands, it automatically alerts the emergency services if Connect is in a smash.
Euro NCAP has put a people-carrying Tourneo Connect through its tough crash test regime and it was awarded a maximum five stars. See Video News Story below.
ford wheelBehind the Wheel
ford-transit-connect-2013-lp3So what’s the International Van of the Year 2014 newcomer from Ford like to drive? We flew to Germany and took to the roads around Munich in a part-laden 95hp L2 to find out; and we were impressed.
Driving position is excellent thanks to multiple steering wheel and seat adjustments and the slick gearchange enabled us to get the best out of a willing engine offering strong acceleration through the rev band and useful amounts of torque in all the right places. With lots of feedback through the responsive steering the handling was exemplary, and the suspension coped easily with the rare imperfections in Germany’s mostly-pristine road surfaces.
On the downside wind noise was evident and there was a certain amount of vibration coming up through the driver’s footwell. We could have done with a sixth gear too — our test van was fitted with a five-speed ’box — and would like to see all Connects, with the possible exception of the 75hp model, fitted with a six-speeder.
After that we sampled an L1 EcoBoost which takes a six-speed ’box as standard and performed far beyond expectation. It pulls strongly even when Connect is heavily laden — subjectively better than the 95hp diesel — and is eerily quiet.
ford-transit-connect-2013-lp3bThis particular Connect was a three-seater and the middle one is completely pointless. Painfully narrow, it offers no legroom whatsoever and frankly we cannot see how anybody could use it even if they were travelling a short distance.
OK, you can fold the seat back down and turn it into a desk. By doing so, however, you reduce the amount of room available to the outboard passenger and end up squeezing them against the door. Forgetting about the middle perch entirely and installing a roomy lidded storage box instead would be a far better idea.
Whichever model you pick, there is no denying that Connect comes with a stylish and attractive interior and exterior and is a quality product. The standard of build certainly approaches that of the Volkswagen Caddy — the benchmark in this sector of the market so far as build quality is concerned — and may even be said to match it; and Connect is by far and away the better-looking of the two.
Basic prices range from £13,150 to £17,250 (excl VAT) and are said to be up to seven per cent lower than those of the equivalent outgoing models. New Connect’s projected residual values are up to 4.9 per cent better than those of its predecessor says used vehicle price guide CAP.
Verdict
Ford has come up with a new tough, workhorse with more than a dash of style. Yet another winner from the Big Blue Oval.