The all-new sixth-generation Ford Transit goes on sale later this month, headed by the entry-level short wheelbase 290S (the long wheelbase 330L will follow in June). With this in mind, we jumped into the outgoing version of the iconic van for its, and hopefully my, final move.
Relocating is inextricably linked to three things: stress, spending dollars and packing your life into numerous unlabelled cardboard boxes.
Making things a little easier this time around was the $35,990 Ford Transit 125 T280. The entry point into the existing fifth-generation Transit range, the front-wheel-drive short wheelbase van is powered by a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel.
Teamed with a slick, dash-mounted six-speed manual transmission, the perky diesel unit puts out 92kW at 3500rpm and 330Nm between 1350-2400rpm.
Pulling strongly from 1500rpm, the Transit rarely requires more than 2000rpm to maintain a cruise or tackle hills and freeway on-ramps. Hunting its 4500rpm redline is also more entertaining than a commercial van should probably be.
Starting $1500 more than our 4863mm-long model, the new Transit Custom will gain 20Nm of torque, to 350Nm, albeit between a narrower 1450–2000rpm rev range. Power will remain identical.
With a 49–year history that’s seen it shift everything from mail and ice-cream to bank robbers and at least two Ford-Cosworth Formula One engines – and lap Germany’s Nurburgring in 10min 8sec with a crazy German female at the helm – moving a bed, two couches, a fridge, a washing machine, a kitchen table and chairs, an entertainment unit and a TV, among other things, should’ve been a doddle. And it was, relatively.
Long referred to as ‘the backbone of Britain’, and once dubbed ‘Britain’s most wanted van' by UK police, the Ford Transit is as capable as ever at taking ‘stuff’ from one location to another with a minimum of fuss or frustration.
Allowing access to its 4122mm-long and 1390mm-wide (wheel arch to wheel arch) load area, the two rear barn doors and passenger-side sliding door make item placement, and negotiating space between items, a straight-forward affair.
The Transit’s gripped rear-step bumper also proved helpful, with its six cupholders, storage bins and compartments and large door pockets all coming in handy, too. Even the two-speaker stereo impressed with Bluetooth mobile phone syncing taking mere seconds.
Less attractive are the hard-wearing plastics and the push-button air conditioner switch – the latter requiring a direct line of sight to its central green bulb to confirm its operation.
Nimble through corners and tight backstreets and brisk off the line when empty, the Transit fully loaded adds composure to its leaf sprung rear end that can get agitated and bouncy over rutted roads and larger imperfections.
The base model’s 15-inch wheels and tall 70-profile Goodyear rubber help with ride comfort while light but consistent steering provides accuracy when performing tricky reversing manoeuvres in and out of driveways.
Over our three-trip, 140km moving day, the 1649kg Transit averaged 9.8 litres per 100km. With inner-city traffic, suburban streets and freeways thrown into the mix, our test figure exceeded not only the oiler’s 7.2L/100km claim but also the trip computer’s 9.0L/km figure.
During the move the Transit’s multitude of tie-down hooks, strapping points, floor clips and side rails all reaffirmed their worth, though the central closing point of the rear doors can hinder what is otherwise exceptional vision for a van.
Despite offering no automatic transmission option – a move that will be repeated once the new model launches – the Ford Transit is still a top commercial option in a competitive field that includes the likes of the Fiat Scudo, Hyundai iLoad, Mercedes-Benz Vito, Renault Trafic, Volkswagen Transporter and segment sales leader the Toyota HiAce.
Even more, however, the Transit is a fun and competent drive and an entertaining way to transport goods.
Bringing with it modern styling, updated cabin quality, new technologies and load features, as well as additional safety – side and curtain airbags will join the current model’s driver and front passenger airbags and stability control as standard – the new Transit has the lineage to ensure it furthers Ford’s current seven-million-unit global sales figure claim.