The TV and radio is chock full of ads for cars day in and day out. How many of us know the Hyundai Tucson ad verbatim at this stage due to its blanket coverage?
The cutthroat world of car sales means they are constantly striving for our Euros and anything that entices and encourages us to buy is deployed.
That Hyundai campaign resulted in 5,467 Tucsons being sold in Ireland last year. But can you recall the ads for the Ford Transit? I can’t and my ear is tuned to all things motoring.
So no memory of ads and yet Ford sold 7,005 commercial vehicles last year - the top light commercial vehicle seller. Of that total 4,282 of them were Ford Transits, the top selling van. And all done with no fuss, behind the scenes, for what is, in terms of money, comparable to the car market.
Being the top selling van isn’t easy as buyers evaluate these much more strenuously then car buyers.
The head is very much the organ used here with the heart’s input minimal. It’s all cost to buy, carrying capacity and running costs. Let’s nail them first.
A Ford Transit Custom starts at €30,655 with the 130PS diesel engine, can carry 1,299kgs in weight and can take an 8.3 cubic metre load. Running costs depend on what size body you choose and engine but my time with the Transit Custom Active 300 SWB yielded 7.7ltrs/100kms after it was driven all the time when empty and this came close to the manufacturers claim.
Powering my Transit was a 2.0l diesel engine producing 170PS, there’s a 185PS version too, with the sweetest 6-speed, dash-mounted manual gearbox. It’s so nice to have a vehicle where my left hand and foot have to do a bit of work for a change. And I reveled driving this on motorways and other roads. It’s very nippy and responsive with quite a lot of grunt. But, all done so quietly.
Any notion you may have that vans are workhorses with spartan comfort is false. I could drive it all day. I drive a lot of cars and there is just something honest and refreshing about a van. It’s not trying to be anything other than a means to transport and deliver items. And it does this very capably with side and rear door access.
The doors don’t present any issue getting things in or out either. And when driven empty there wasn’t a hint of side panel resonance that I remember in vans of old. It is as car like as it gets.
The suspension is setup to make the trip comfortable when loaded or unloaded and I got out fresh as a daisy when I drove back and forth to Athlone. The comfort levels are really top notch.
You get quite a lot in vans these days and mine had a few nice items like smartphone mirroring, heated seats, folding mirrors, 8 inch infotainment screen and blindspot technology. This is important because commercial drivers are in their vehicles longer than all other drivers and they should have the most creature comforts.
The bill for the van came to €47,078 including €1,500 worth of extras. That’s a lot of money, but it does a lot. If you want longer, taller and more powerful you can get that as well and there is an extensive options list to customise your own Transit Custom.
I’ve a close friend who has ordered an automatic, long wheelbase, high roof model, with alloys and all the trimmings. It’s his office as he told me and he wants plush one.
The seats in mine were very comfortable and covered with lovely fabric but there was only two and I really think the whole van experience calls for three front seats. If it was a small crew you’d miss the banter and slagging that we all know goes on in the front of a van.
With the centre seat missing in my Transit it looked a bit bare and a fancy central storage bin should be fitted, hell knows delivery drivers need places like these for all their gubbins.
To maintain it’s leading position the Transit must move with the times and there are PHEV and all-electric versions. Not only are we car drivers moving to electricity but the delivery of the goods and services we require in our daily lives is heading that way too, rapidly. Those new electrified versions should keep Ford at the top of the charts too.
The Transit has always been a big seller and a van, that if 9 out of 10 commercial drivers were asked to state a driving preference for, I’m pretty certain they’d choose a Transit.
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