Fleet News

Ford Transit 125t 3500 MWB

So when the guys at Ford asked if we would like to take a Transit on to our long term fleet for six months, I jumped at the chance. Not only would it help us out personally, but it would mean a lot of different testers could give an expert view on this most worthy of LCV contenders.

All those little jobs that the testers here had been putting off because they didn’t have enough room could finally be completed. Old disused gas cookers could be taken to the city dump, bookcases could be transferred from parents’ homes and tons of horse manure could be purchased from roadside farms for use on various gardens – although at this point I had to stop the rush of drivers clamouring for the keys.

Time for a few ground rules, I thought, before allowing the staff to borrow Ford’s finest light commercial vehicle. Furniture – yes. Gas cookers – probably. Animal faeces – no way.

That having been established and agreed upon, I let the pack loose. So far, news editor Mike Roberts has used it to move house and Fleet NewsNet editor Jeremy Bennett is due to do the same next week. I’ll be reporting on their findings in the next test.

But first let me introduce our latest addition to the long-term test fleet. This Transit is a medium wheelbase, medium-roof version tipping the scales at 3.5-tonnes gross vehicle weight, which is the top end of the Transit scale.

Under the bonnet is Ford’s 2.0-litre common-rail TDCi powerplant offering a meaty 125bhp and torque of 210lb-ft. It isn’t the most powerful Transit on the road – there is a new 135bhp version now – but it will be plenty fast enough for our testers, some of whom have never been behind the wheel of such a big van before.

Step aboard and it soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary Transit. It comes with all the extras you can think of, including metallic paint, full steel bulkhead, reversing alarm, electric windows and mirrors, air conditioning, foglights and a CD player – many items that would have been restricted to cars not long ago.

This van is so well specced that I’m seriously considering putting in an offer for it when it is time for it to go back to its maker next January – I doubt whether there is another like it on the roads. So how is the Transit shaping up in its first few weeks on the fleet? Admirably well, as it happens.

All the testers so far have been pleased to see how easy it is to drive. The TDCi engine is a world away from the old TDdi unit in terms of smoothness and power and, although the gearstick looks like a rolled umbrella stuck in the floor (Ford has so far eschewed the modern penchant for dash-mounted gearsticks), some slick changes are possible.

In the back, there is a rubber floor and half-height side protectors but we have added our own little touch in the form of some flattened cardboard boxes which should help protect the load area from scrapes and scratches. I can see this vehicle is going to be by far and away the most useful one on the fleet. Trevor Gelken

Fact file

Price (OTR) £19,100 (ex-VAT)
Mileage: 2,760
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer): £9 per month
Insurance group: 13T
Power (bhp/rpm): 125/3,800
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 210/1,500-2,200
Test mpg: n/a
CAP residual value (3yrs/60,000 miles): £6,075/31%
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles

Specification

  • Power steering
  • Antilock brakes
  • Driver’s airbag
  • Immobiliser
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Sliding side door (left hand)
  • Towing eyes front and rear
  • Headlight levelling

    Options

  • Air conditioning
  • 6-way adjustable driver seat
  • Reversing alarm
  • Passenger airbag
  • Executive pack
  • Load area kit
  • Security pack

    What we expect

    WHILE we don’t expect to pile millions of miles on the clock in its six-month stay, this vehicle is expected to be busy most weekends on various errands and so far it hasn’t let us down.

    In fact, I have had to start a special Transit diary in which all the testers write their various requests to avoid clashing dates.

    Anyone with a van will invariably discover they have new friends and already I’ve found that people in the office who rarely talk to me now greet me with a friendly wave. Cupboard love will cut no ice with me, however!

    The manufacturer’s view

    ‘The name Ford Transit has entered the colloquial English language as a byword for medium commercial vehicles.

    It is British-built at Southampton and has been on the UK market since 1965: for 38 of those years, it has been Britain’s best-selling medium commercial vehicle.

    The Ford Transit offers fleet business customers an impressive range of configurations: choose from front and rear-wheel drive, three wheelbases, nine powertrains (seven diesels, one petrol and one LPG petrol/ bi-fuel), and van, jumbo van, chassis cab, double cab and minibus versions are available.

    The recently launched 135bhp diesel powertrain is the most tractable and powerful engine that Ford has yet produced for Transit.

    With a six-speed gearbox as standard, the engine is ideal for any operator who clocks up motorway miles and carries a high payload, but who does not want to compromise on economy.

    Transit is a byword for reliability, durability and low cost of ownership and by adapting to meet the needs of the market it remains an indispensable vehicle.’
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