The changing face of the Transit


With the constantly changing world of vans and light commercials and the ever increasing level of specifications being developed by major manufacturers all around the world, the great grandpappy of vans has just seen a major freshen up and facelift. 


Extending its 40-year history — yes, it has been around that long — the Ford Transit has come into the environmental fast lane with a range of new generation Euro IV-compliant, turbo-diesel engines to headline the changes made to this stalwart LCV. 


As far as the commercial sector goes, over-oxygenated oil burners are definitely the in thing, and it is for that reason that the complete Transit line up now comes with the TDCi (common rail, direct injection) technology developed in collaboration with Peugeot/Citroen. 


The short wheel base Transit engines offer 74kW and 285Nm of torque — which is what really counts — and these little puppies are able to offer 8.1 litres per 100km fuel consumption figures. 


However, with a very minor “tickle up” of the engine management system, the power and torque outputs can be boosted to a much more impressive 103kW at 3500rpm and 375Nm at 2000rpm of torque, which is standard fare in the long wheel base models. 


And the consumption goes up only slightly to 8.7 litres and 9.1 litres per 100km depending on body style. We suspect most will opt for the tickled up 103Kw engine of the long wheel base Transit at the end of the day. 


There are two transmission options specific to the engine power options. The more powerful engines gain a six-speed box, while fi ve-speed is the option for the 74kW models. There is no automatic transmission available at this time. 


The Blue Oval (Transit’s forward badge is the biggest Blue Oval ever by the way) boys have had a serious look at the LCV sector, which is rapidly becoming almost as sophisticated as the user-chooser passenger world. 


It’s no longer enough for a manufacturer to sit back and cobble together a van, as more and more people are using them for a variety of purposes. In addition, there is an element of discernment on the modern van buyer — especially in Europe, where distance and congestion can mean extended periods of time in the cabin. 


So Ford has been doing some homework. Transit’s design teams have worked with customer clinics to determine exactly what it is their customers want in the cabin, within the conventional parameters of a van, of course. 


And there’s been quite a bit that customers have wanted apparently, so Ford adopted a “don’t fi x what isn’t broken” attitude and concentrated on upgrades and improvements from the B-pillar forward. 


This means you still have everything the Transit has been known for in the cargo compartment — wide, high and easily accessible modular and cubic space. It seems Ford’s Transit drivers wanted space improvements over everything else, so Ford has obliged. 


I would be interested to meet the “Transit-eer” who can fi nd and fi ll all the storage compartments which are now part and parcel of the ubiquitous LCV. Given that the steering wheel in a 2006 model Transit is about the size of one found in a contemporary hatchback, there is plenty of scope for storage bins and compartments of all shapes and sizes. 


Storage aside, one might ask the question, “why is the steering wheel so small?” That’s a design decision, which aids in another of the Transit’s outstanding attributes — car-like driving qualities. 


The size of the wheel, combined with the in-cabin ergonomics, make the Transit less threatening and more comfortable to drive, allowing for the extended drive times owner/operators are expected to encounter. 


Indeed, the adjustable lumbar support seats demonstrate Ford’s ability to listen to what is required and to implement it. The dashboard is an all-new design in keeping with ergonomic advancement, but the element that most will find somewhat radical is the position of the shifter. 


Gone is the fl oor-mount. Ford has moved the stick up to a centre console position for greater ease of use and walk-through capability in the cab. Standard elements across the entire Transit range include ABS brakes, remote central locking and driver’s air bag. 


You’ll fi nd a single disc in-dash CD player and a consistent towing capacity of 2000kg with a braked trailer. Of course, most would be filling the cargo area of the Transit, so here’s the space you have to play with: the short wheel base model has a roof height of 2083mm and a body length of 4863mm. 


The long wheel base medium roof has a height of 2394mm and a body length of 5680mm, or there is a high roof version with 2624mm height and 6403mm body length. All told, there are 16 variations within the Transit line up, including two buses — 12 or 14 seat options — and two cab chassis versions. 


Prices range from anywhere between $42,790 to $62,890. Arguably the most sought after model — the 350 long wheel base, medium height roof with the 103kW power plant and six-speed manual — retails at $49,790.