Just over a month ago, we took possession of a medium wheelbase 3.5-tonne gross vehicle weight Ford Transit which will be staying with us until next January and as I was the only one with a driveway big enough to accommodate it comfortably, I was given control of keys.
As such, I feel responsible for the vehicle and have been treating it rather like my own.
First of all I kitted it out with a variety of items that will prove essential for a busy fleet life. For example, in the cab I placed a good quality British road atlas, a clipboard and sheaf of blank A4 paper which slots nicely into the cubby hole on top of the dash, a few pens and some coins for parking etc. (the coins, unsurprisingly, vanished pretty damn quick!)
In the load area I have added two old blankets, a few lengths of rope and some sheets of stiff cardboard which will help stop loads from rolling around in the back.
And while we haven’t exactly been piling on the miles, the van has been worth its weight in gold so far. Every weekend has seen one tester or another borrowing it and quite often in the week, someone has asked for the keys.
The Transit has been used for all sorts of jobs. Furniture removal has proved the favourite, taking unwanted items to the city dump comes a close second and last weekend photographer Chris Lowndes used it to carry home 30 concrete slabs from B&Q, which must have just about made a full load, as the van’s total payload is just over 1,600kg.
With so many different people driving this vehicle, I have also been keeping a careful log of who was driving at which particular time. With my name on the test sheet, I don’t want to be stuck with any little fines and licence points that other people may inadvertently pick up along the way.
I have also found myself making a detailed examination of the van every time it comes back to spot any annoying little dents and scratches that vans seem to pick up, however careful the drivers are.
So far, the only damage is two minute lines along one side which could have been caused by the van being driven past a prickly bush. When I have a spare minute I intend to get out the trusty can of T-Cut and try to eradicate these marks.
So how do our testers rate the Transit? Bearing in mind that many have never driven a panel van before, every one has remarked how easy the vehicle is to drive. Despite its size, they all felt comfortable driving it and the optional reversing alarm has helped no end when backing up.
Several, though, have criticised the driver’s seat, which – although it adjusts in all directions – is totally lacking in lumbar support, leaving the driver slumped forward in an awkward manner. I’d also like to see a CD rack added. On several occasions, I have balanced my CDs on the passenger seat, only to see them fly off and scatter themselves all over the floor when I have braked hard. These complaints apart, the Transit is proving that its title of the king of vans is justified indeed.
Price (OTR): £19,100 (ex-VAT)
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
Combined mpg: n/a
Test mpg: 28.3
CAP Monitor residual value: £6,075/31%
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles