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In-depth reviews

Ford Transit Connect van review

The Transit Connect drives as well as one of Ford's passenger cars, but offers a practical design and well-thought out load space

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Driving dynamics, practical cabin, safety kit
  • Some rivals offer more power and more load space

Ford's Transit van range has grown in recent years. There's now the largest van in the range, simply named 'Transit', under which sits the mid-sized Transit Custom, small Transit Connect and Ford Fiesta-based Transit Courier. The compact Connect competes with rivals like the Volkswagen Caddy, Citroen Berlingo, Fiat Doblo and Renault Kangoo, among others.

It's a crowded marketplace, but the Transit Connect benefits from the brand cachet that comes from Ford's all-conquering Transit line. It's not just a name, though, as the Transit Connect really is an excellent van in its own right.

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Best small vans to buy now

Like most vans in this class, the Transit Connect offers a choice of load lengths. They're dubbed L1 and long-wheelbase L2 for the pure load-lugging van models, and joined in the range by a fully-windowed Transit Connect Kombi and a five-seat Double Cab model. Trim levels start from Base, through Trend and top-spec Limited - as well as efficiency-biased ECOnetic models.

In the engine bay, the Ford Transit Connect uses Ford's latest 1.5 TDCi diesel in three states of tune, numbered 75 (74bhp), 100 (99bhp) and 120 (118bhp). The 75 and 100 versions come with a five-speed manual, while the 120 is a six-speed, and the 100 and 120 can both be had with a Powershift auto. You can also specify Ford’s impressive 99bhp 1.0 EcoBoost 100 turbo petrol engine, which has a six-speed manual gearbox. Few van buyers will be tempted away from diesel but for light-duty urban work, the tiny turbo petrol can make sense. 

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More reviews for Transit Connect Van

The Transit Connect van has a lot in common with Ford’s passenger car range. From the angular design features around the front end to the interior switchgear and, more tellingly, the composed, supple-riding driving experience. It’s a fine effort from Ford that resides near the top of the compact van class. A facelift in 2018 gives the Transit Connect a new nose and extra tech on board, including Ford's latest Sync 3 voice control and navigation system.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

The worst combined economy figure you can get with the Ford Transit Connect is the 50.4mpg achieved by the EcoBoost petrol model. The 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engine options that almost everyone will choose all fall into the 58.9mpg to 68.9mpg bracket. Add the PowerShift auto and economy is 56.5mpg.

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What has greater impact on performance at the pumps is whether you opt for the stop-start system, the Fuel Economy Pack and then the full ECOnetic economy package. The most economical Transit Connect is an ECOnetic with stop-start and the optional 62mph speed limiter, this gives returns of 72.4mpg. 

All Transit Connect models get the same 60-litre fuel tank giving a long range between fill-ups and, in case drivers spend so long away from the pumps that they forget which fuel to put in, Ford’s Easy-Fuel anti-misfuelling filler cap is standard. Service intervals for the van are every year or 20,000 miles.

Load Space and Practicality

The entry-point to the Ford Transit Connect range is the L1 van, which offers a 2.9 cubic metres load volume and a payload of around 630kg depending on the specification. 

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The larger L2 model extends the load length from 1,753mm to 2,153mm and offers a 3.6 cubic metres load volume. The L2 versions maximum payloads are slightly higher at around 720kg depending on spec but with the optional High Payload modifications they can accommodate loads just over 1,000kg.

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The Transit Connect’s payload capacities are fairly competitive in the compact van class but both the Citroen Berlingo and Renault Kangoo can cope with slightly more in terms of outright load volume.

Ford is keen to point out that even the L1 version can carry two Europallets and take 3-metre long items loaded diagonally. The L2 can take 3.4-metre long items with the aid of the optional Loadthrough bulkhead and 8’x4’ sheets of plasterboard in the load area itself.

The bulkhead in the Transit Connect is slightly unusual in that it features a pronounced bulge going back into the load area. This reduces load volume but maximises space in the cab and gives you a handy point to rest those diagonally-stowed 3m long planks. 

Access is good with all models getting side-hinged rear doors plus a kerb-side sliding side door. The full-width solid steel bulkhead is standard too but the Loadthrough hatch with its accompanying dual front passenger seat is only fitted to higher spec models. 

Reliability and Safety

In common with its more advanced contemporaries, the Ford Transit Connect is available with a raft of high-tech safety kit. In standard guise you get all the basics, including ESC stability control that adapts to the load on board and a driver’s airbag but there’s also Hill Start Assist and Emergency Brake Assist. 

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Delve into the options list and it’s possible to specify Ford’s Active City Stop, which detects impending accidents and automatically applies the brakes to avoid them. There’s parking sensors and a neat rear-view camera that projects an image of what’s behind the car onto the rear-view mirror.

Security

All models get central locking with auto relocking that locks the doors if none are opened after 45 seconds. Powered deadlocks and an immobiliser are also standard. 

Driving and Performance

Ford has managed to inject the whole of the Transit van range with the same responsive, composed handling that has made its passenger cars such a joy to drive over recent years.

The Transit Connect is no exception to this with accurate, well-weighted steering and impressive body control helping make it one of the best vans in the class to drive. The unladen ride is on the firm side but the suspension takes the edge off the bumps with impressive suppleness and never becomes crashy, even over major craters in the surface. 

The diesel engine is strong too, although, not quite as outstanding in the class as the driving dynamics. The 1.5 TDCi packs a punch in top-spec 120 guise, and the six-speed gearbox boosts its flexibility, too.

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Most buyers will choose either the TDCi 75 (74bhp) or the TDCi 100 (99bhp), which both offer decent mid-range shove. Overall, the Transit Connect is a fantastic van to drive. 

Cab and Interior

Inside the Transit Connect is a roomy cabin with an abundance of headroom and some clever storage options. Much of the switchgear will be familiar to Ford Fiesta and Focus passenger car owners and the chunky, angular design theme is carried over from the exterior.

The steering wheel is compact and feels good in your hands with well-positioned controls mounted on it. The cluster of buttons on the original Transit Connect has been replaced by a touchscreen on higher spec facelifted models. Build quality is sturdy throughout with tough, durable plastics favoured over fancy trim finishes that may not stand the test of time.

Storage in the cab is good too, with the large overhead shelf combining with door pockets, a glovebox and a central storage area to provide plenty of options for keeping the cab tidy. Higher spec Transit Connects get a flexible dual passenger seat that can flip up to provide extra storage or fold down to create a writing desk.

Van dimensions

Body styleHeightWidthLength
L1 short wheelbase van1,861mm1,835mm4,418mm
L1 short wheelbase High Payload van1,861mm1,835mm4,418mm
L2 Long-wheelbase van1,862mm1,835mm4,818mm
L2 Long-wheelbase High Payload van1,862mm1,835mm4,818mm

Load area dimensions

Body styleHeightWidthLengthVolume
L1 short wheelbase van1,269mm1,538mm1,753mm2.9m3
L2 Long-wheelbase van1,269mm1,538mm2,153mm3.6m3
L1 short wheelbase crew van1,237mm1,268mm845mm1.2m3
L2 Long-wheelbase crew van1,267mm1,268mm1,072mm1.6m3

(Width between wheel arches: 1,226mm)

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