The new Transit Courier is not so much a van, but a small two-seat vehicle that has a very big boot in the back. When I say this, I mean it with the highest regards possible, as it feels nothing like a commercial vehicle when you’re on the road. In fact, in terms of the driving experience, it’s not much different to a standard Fiesta, which shouldn’t be a surprise really because they share the same platform. But apart from being car-like, does the new Transit Courier have anything else to offer that would make it a standout car? I had two weeks to find out.
Price and engines
With an as-tested price of CHF 16,038, this new Transit Courier is the cheapest new car I’ve ever driven. The base price is CHF 15,768 for a car with the turbocharged, three-cylinder, 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine this car has. The engine produces 100hp and 170Nm of torque, which allows it to get from 0-100km/h in 12.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 173km/h. Fuel consumption claims are at 6.8l/100km in the city, 4.7l/100km on the highway and 5.4l/100km on the combined cycle, with CO2 output being at 124g/km. Other engine options include 1.5- and 1.6-litre diesel engines, with power ranging from 75hp to 115hp. All cars come with a five-speed manual transmission, except for cars equipped with the 115hp diesel engine, which come with a six-speed transmission.
On the road
Being a panel van, all-round visibility is compromised, but with big mirrors, you can at least see where the rear tyres are. Visibility apart, it’s very easy to drive, thanks to the steering being light and effortless to use, as well as having quite a decent ride quality. Torque in first gear is electronically limited, which can be annoying when you’re trying to make swift progress, but in the other gears there’s a decent amount of grunt to be had for driving around town, as well as for easy fifth-gear overtakes on the highway. The engine itself is a fairly quiet unit unless you ask for full-on acceleration, however there is no sound insulation at the rear, so there’s a lot of road noise when on the highway.
While the Transit Courier is no Fiesta ST when it comes to handling, it did cope with some mountain roads a lot better than expected. At 1,190kg it is quite a light car, but because of the tall, square-like body, I was expecting it to be rather cumbersome and prone to body roll when the roads got twisty. Instead, it went through the Marchairuz mountain pass with great levels of control, and – dare I say – some levels of fun. However, I did drive through this route when the van was empty, were it fully loaded I’m sure the experience would have been different.
Equipment and carrying capacity
This test van is equipped with the Trend package, which means it comes with: a sliding rear door on the right side, fog lamps, air conditioning, electric windows, a trip computer, leather steering wheel with radio/audio controls, USB and aux-in slots, as well as Bluetooth. Its maximum payload is 660kg, with a total weight rating of 1,790kg, and 2.3 cubic metres of space. The passenger’s seat can be folded down to create more loading space, and effectively turn the Transit Courier into a single-seater. Having mentioned the second seat, it is not that comfortable to sit on, lacking the level of support and cushioning that the driver’s seat has. Rear sliding doors with windows can be had at an extra cost of CHF 594.
At this point of the review, I would normally talk about the interior and the quality of the equipment, but the Transit Courier is strictly utilitarian in that department. Even though it’s got Bluetooth connectivity, it doesn’t have a touchscreen interface. Instead you get a simple, small LCD screen displaying text from your phone and the settings for the audio system, and good old-fashioned buttons to scroll through the functions.
What stands out
The Transit Courier isn’t exactly a game-changer for the compact van segment, but I was very surprised by how well it drove. In the two weeks I had this van, the surprise factor of its driving experience is what really stood out to me the most, and that’s what makes it a standout car. It’s also very cheap, and it should be just as reliable as any Ford van. Speaking of which, service intervals are scheduled for every 30,000km or once a year for all the Transit Courier models.
Written by Alex Kisiri