Ford Transit Connect T230
- 01 April 2011
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The Ford Transit Connect is a little bit deceptive in its name. When Transit is mentioned, the last thing you expect to see is a small, tidy, compact van. More like it should be big, more van than car, strong, tough, reliable and more than capable of getting the job done. A proven pedigree, Ford obviously decided that the name would add weight to the new vans appeal. Consider the Ford Escort Connect. It just does not seem such an attractive option, even though the size of both vans would be closer. So, the Transit Connect it is, and apart from size, there are some similarities. The Connect has been built to Ford’s new modern design, with the base having a similar chassis footprint as the Ford Focus. As in the Transit, strength is important, and the use of high strength steel built into a reinforced body was the basis of what is a tough workhorse. If you want a car-derived van, buy a Fiesta. But if you want a load lugger designed to withstand hardship and provide the reliability necessitated by a business vehicle, the Transit Connect will get the job done with no fuss. An example of the ruggedness that is built in to ensure the van is up to the job is the 15 inch 5 stud wheels and the multi-leaf rear springs. Now it sounds more like a Transit.
Appearance wise, there is no mistaking the Connect for anything other than a van. The large, flat, side panels are ideal for signwriting, as are the unglazed rear doors. Body side mouldings and wheelarch protectors will help to minimise damage, and the high front bumper and redesigned grille will ensure less frontal stone chips. Large door mirrors with integrated enhanced rear vision can fold flat to ensure no damage when parked. This latest revamped model has a new look to it, and apart from the grille, the front bumper has taken on a new shape along with a newer style to the headlamps and taillights. A feature worth noting is the addition of home safe headlights, which remain on for a while after you have parked in order to give light on the path to your door.
The interior has also received a fresh look, and indeed the cab area is very much based on Ford’s successful car dash layout, similar in appearance to the Ford S-Max. The driver’s seat is height adjustable, and the angle of the base cushion can be set to personal preference. Dash dials and warning lights are highly visible, helped by the shape of the steering wheel, and most of the switches, including the audio controls, are attached to the steering column ensuring fingertip accessibility. There is plenty of room, both in height and width, and with the steering column adjustable in both rake and reach, there is no problem in finding the most comfortable driving position. Electric front windows are standard, and the inclusion of Ford’s 6000 RDS stereo radio/cd with auxiliary 3.5mm jack, helps keep the boredom out of long range driving. There is plenty of storage available, with good-sized door-bins and a large centre console with a coin tray, penholder and two cup holders. The glovebox is roomy and there is a compartment on top of the dash to hold an A4 clipboard, along with pockets at the back of the seats, ideal for holding maps, high-vis jackets and other necessities.
The load area itself is basically just a big box to put stuff into, and is separated from the cab by a full height steel mesh bulkhead that protects the driver and passenger from getting struck from loose cargo. But here it gets interesting. The front seat can be folded flat to form a work surface, but it also allows the load area to be extended to increase the floor length. The mesh bulkhead behind the passenger seat can now be un-locked and hinged forward through 90˚ and secured in position to form a protective partition to safeguard the driver. What I found amazing about this arrangement is that it is now possible to carry 8’ by 4’ sheets upright, albeit at a slight angle. That is unheard of in a van of this size, and just shows the ingenuity of the designers to make the Transit Connect as versatile and user-friendly as possible. I was so intrigued by this discovery that I actually put an 8’ by 4’ sheet of plywood into the van and closed the back doors. Every builder and carpenter should know about this, it is definitely one of the Connects better points from a working point of view.
Access is gained through the single side sliding door or the large rear doors, which can be opened through 180˚ by releasing the retaining straps, to give an impressive opening size of 1490mm wide by 1145mm high. The side door has an opening of 809mm wide by 1181mm high. Ground to floor height is 600mm, and the floor length is 1986mm extended to 2714mm with the passenger seat folded. Overall height is 1364mm, and the overall width is 1490mm, with 1226mm between the wheelarches, ensuring that two europallets can be loaded comfortably. The cargo volume is 3.7 cu/m, increasing to 4.4 cu/m with the passenger seat folded. The load floor has six tie-down hooks to secure cargo, and if you need to fit shelving, the sides are already pre-fitted with threaded reinforced fixing points, removing the need to start drilling the sides of the van. A point worth noting, however, in order to prevent damage to the side panels from cargo falling or sliding around is the need to fit protective timber or plastic panels to the inside, as there is little or no protection fitted.
On the road, the Transit Connect feels solid and safe. The 1.8 litre TDCI diesel engine, with 90ps on this model, is well able to pull a full load and is more than adequate for the size of the van, recording a fuel return of 16litres/100km or 45mpg on our test run. The gear changes are very slick and precise, and the independent McPherson front struts absorb the rough stuff with ease giving a very comfortable drive all round. As with all Ford’s, road holding and handling is superb, and the van goes exactly where you point it. It’s as simple as that, and it is all possible by the inclusion as standard of a number of high-tech safety features such as the Electronic Stability Programme, Active Yaw Control, Rollover Mitigation and Roll Movement Intervention. The brakes have been upgraded to discs all round, and include ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, and an additional safety feature is the indicators will flash under heavy, emergency braking to warn following drivers.
This van has a payload of 888 kg and can safely tow an 800 kg braked trailer. Service intervals are 25,000 kilometres, and there is a 2 year unlimited kilometres warranty with the option of paying a little bit extra to increase this to 4 years. Ford also give a 6 year Perforation warranty and supply a 2 years Roadside Assistance service.
Overall, a lot of Transit in a small van for €16,150.