DRIVEN: New Ford Transit van is modern, practical and easy to use

Published Jul 1, 2024


It’s a pity that vans don’t get much love in South Africa compared to the rest of the world because they do provide a valuable and practical commercial alternative to a traditional bakkie.

But that may change going forward with the introduction of Ford’s new Transit Custom Van.

It’s Europe and the United Kingdom’s top selling van and has secured the Van of the Year title five times, including 2024.

Initially, we’re getting the Long Wheelbase with additional derivatives scheduled for later this year.

Locally, we sell around 2,000 units a year which isn’t a huge number, but with improved market conditions Ford is hopeful more will follow.

The market is dominated by Toyota’s Quantum followed by the Transit with a 19% share as well as the Mercedes-Benz Vito, Nissan NV350, Volkswagen Transporter, Hyundai Staria, Fiat Ducato and Renault Traffic.

Just as Ford interacted with Ranger owners to determine their needs when they designed the new Ranger, they did the same with the Transit, the result of which is a much-improved utility van.

Built in Türkiye, it has a lengthened wheelbase, a clean-sheet design and is 100kg lighter than the outgoing model. It’s a lot more aerodynamic too, and stands under two metres high, allowing it access to underground loading bays and car parks. The new model also features a larger side door aperture (a second door is offered as an option), an integrated access step for easier ingress and a lower load floor for easier loading and access.

It’s roomy inside, with a load volume of 5.8m3, a payload of 1,269kg that can take three Euro pallets, braked towing capacity of 2,500kg and a maximum load length of just over three metres using the load through feature under the passenger seat.

It also features eight tie-down loops, partial rubber floor covering and the twin rear doors that open 180 degrees, allowing for unhindered loading and unloading.

The Ford Transit is fitted with a silky smooth 2.0-litre single turbo diesel engine with 100kW and 360Nm with a six speed manual transmission driving the front wheels. An automatic gearbox will become available later this year.

The well-equipped cabin comes with Ford’s Sync4 touchscreen system. Picture: Supplied

Climbing inside, the cockpit features are more car-like than van. As you would expect from a practical and utilitarian vehicle, there’s plenty of hard-wearing and easy to clean plastic and rubber flooring.The seats are elevated and comfortable with a removable bulkhead separating them from the load bay, and the steering wheel has rake and reach settings.

A large 13-inch infotainment screen, with Ford’s Sync 4 system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, dominates the centre of the dash, allowing the driver to use map apps and communicate without having to stop or disrupt traffic while trying to locate an address, and the 12-inch digital instrument cluster is configurable.

Safety features include six airbags, hill-launch assist, collision mitigation, driver alert, speed sign recognition, lane keeping aid and tyre pressure monitoring.

At 5,450mm long and with solid rear doors, a rear camera and front PDC takes care of manoeuvring the Transit.

Despite its size, the Ford Transit is easy and comfortable to drive, with large side mirrors fitted with a curved panel on the lower half to give a clear view of what’s happening behind you.

Using the van for its intended purpose, we loaded them with essential goodies destined for a home for abandoned children in Pretoria and bags of food for a house for abandoned and abused women in Krugersdorp.

It’s heartbreaking to see and does your head in that these things happen so often and so brutally.

Unfortunately, like almost all NGOs, there is zero assistance from the State, and in fact, deniability that it even happens, so again it’s left to corporate SA to help where they can.

The tragedy is that there are so many of these citizen help organisations that it’s impossible to choose which ones need it more.

Anyway, the donations are gratefully received and the Transit swallows the loads with ease.

Keep in mind that it’s a practical vehicle intended to lug cargo around and not race from robot to robot or fly around corners at full speed.

It does have a nice turn of speed though, should you need it, with the gearbox incredibly smooth and easy to use with the low torque allowing for minimum gear changes.

It’s remarkably quiet inside, considering the lack of noise-deadening at the back, testimony to the attention paid to the noise, vibration and harshness levels.

Ford claims consumption figures of 8.2l/100km, but without really trying, we managed 7.6l/100km.

It will be interesting to see what the take-up of the Ford Transit will be because it really is so practical and easy to use in a commercial and delivery environment.

Pricing (June 2024)

Transit Custom Base Long Wheelbase Van 2.0L SiT 6MT: R692,200.

The optional service plan costs R24,570 and covers six-years/90 000km and can be extended to eight-years/165 000km.