Friday 9 September 2011

Road - White Van Man Goes Green

All that way and all that hassle just to see a new grille on the front and a new badge on the back door. It was almost a disappointment - till we drove it. 

Ford had invited the UK’s top light CV journalists to the European launch of the Stage 5 Ford Transit in Munich, an 827 mile cramped (well named Squeezyjet) flight from Edinburgh where the prices were higher than the cruising altitude. And on first sight, there was little difference to the nation’s top van.

But Ford is making bold claims for the new Transit with improved fuel economy, much lower emissions and better ‘whole life costs.’ So that means the new van will be dearer, won’t it? In a word, ‘Yes’, but Ford reckons the savings will more than pay for themselves.

The secret lies in the new 2.2 litre Duratorq TDCi engine with a standard six speed box across the range. The new engine also features a lower compression ratio, higher common rail pressure and new 8-hole Piezo injectors. Using EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) the new engine more than meets the new Euro-5 standards.

Otherwise it’s much the same as before, but additional tweaks to the engine have found more savings. The oil pump only powers up when it needs to and responds to demand rather than circulating oil constantly, the hydraulic steering pump has a variable flow rate depending on whether it needs only light pressure for running on a Motorway or increased pressure when parking for instance, and there is regenerative capacity in the alternator/battery system. The new Transit also features Stop/Start technology and has a new larger dual mass flywheel to help with that.

So all the changes are really under the bonnet and under the floor. Transit does however retain its choice of FWD or RWD depending on the customer’s ultimate use.

So what’s it like to drive? Well, it is quieter, especially on the cruise or idling through traffic and it only becomes really audible when under load, and the torque, even in the 100 PS unit is impressive, pulling easily from just over 1000 rpm. Similarly, the 155 PS engine is impressively smooth and quick.

On top of all that there are two new Econetic versions offering even less emissions for those who are concerned about working in congested city and town centres.

In other words, Ford have made a good van better.

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