I’ve often wondered why Ford Motor Company of South Africa was so slow to introduce its Transit range of light (and some heavier) commercial vehicles locally.
After all, as anyone who has visited the UK in the past 40 years or so can attest, the ‘White Van Men’ dash here, there and everywhere with parcel deliveries, plumbing services, locksmithying, perhaps the delivery of electrical goods – in fact just about any service that entails door-to-door delivery.
They’re wide-awake entrepreneurs and the chances are they will be driving something from the ubiquitous Ford Transit range.
Well, that particular conundrum was answered about a years earlier than today by FMCSA which elected to introduce and expand its capable Transit panel vans and luxurious Tourneo buses locally; a now obviously successful marketing ploy that’s led Ford to believe there’s a continuing gap in the local market - so why not drive a bus through it!
Tracey Delate, FMCSA’s general marketing manager, told Wheels24: “Ford has been expanding its commercial vehicle range significantly over the past two years, starting with the Transit Custom and Tourneo Custom followed by the two-ton Transit van, chassis cab and Tourneo bus launched in 2014.
GALLERY: 2015 Ford Tourneo Connect and Transit Connect
“The new Transit Connect and Tourneo Connect add a third and extremely important range to our portfolio with its latest technologies, outstanding flexibility, unrivalled safety and exceptional efficiency in a compact yet extremely versatile package.”
In essence, what Ford hopes local entrepreneurs might now consider adding to their shopping list – should they be looking for a vehicle of this type – is a proven, European-styled-and-specced delivery van (you really don’t have to have it in white, however – because there’s eight other shades from which to choose!)
Seriously, and in the case of the single entry-level Transit Connect, it’s reassuring to know it comes with some real pedigree – how about the most recent accolade of 2014 International Van of the Year in Europe?
Although compact C-segment panel vans and MPVs have a relatively small share of the SA market (2015), based on the success of the formula internationally it is expected to become a much bigger player as buyers demand car-like comfort, safety and luxury features along with great manoeuvrability and the ability to carry people and/or goods with ease.
PANEL VAN CAPABILITIES
The Transit Connect panel van version can take 1000kg payload, while offering a significant towing capacity of 1200kg, making it one of the most capable and versatile commercial vehicles in its segment.
Those of you who frequently tow a caravan or trailer, take note!
A single power train is offered in the above version equipped with an efficient and economical 1.6 TDCi engine. This punchy turbodiesel boasts 85kW/285Nm so hast exceptional load-lugging ability for its working roles. Power is delivered to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission – the only option for now.
The new Fords were launched this week in and around Johannesburg, the morning route selected by the manufacturer covered just about every suburb found on the West Rand – and then some! Scenic stuff…
Stop/start heavy traffic, broken traffic lights and the spot-the-pothole (particular the bigger ones, possibly with fish in them) game helped pass the time - just the scenario that entrepreneurs/owners of such a vehicle are sure to face on any day with a ‘Y’ in it.
SPACE FOR TWO PALLETS
The fuel gauge hardly moved all morning; the aircon worked its magic for both driver and passenger (no bench seat to allow a third mate). Parking proved a cinch thanks to huge external mirrors (the inside mirror little more than ornamental because the cabin has sheet metal behind its seats – presumably to protect the white-van men from any load-shifting and possible associated injury.
It’s worth mentioning that two standards pallets of goods can be loaded with the aid of a fork-lift truck, thanks to rear doors that open a full 180°.
Cartons and boxes can otherwise be loaded manually to the ceiling and secured, thanks to six retainer catches in the cargo area.
TOURNEO 5-/7-SEATER MPV
PERHAPS most interest among those desiring an MPV-type vehicle will be found in the newcomer to the range, the Tourneo 5/7 seater: There are four models in this new range available in short-wheelbase configuration in Ambiente or Trend specification and, in the case of the long-wheelbase version) Titanium trim.
Each has a spacious and practical solution to a maximum total volume of 3222 litres in the case of the seven-seater derivative – once you fold the seats, of course..
The wagon/vans are eye-catching on the outside. As Delate observed: “Whether tackling the school run or participating in sporting activities such as mountain biking or surfing the Tourneo Connect people-movers are great for those with busy, active lifestyles.”
The full power-train line-up includes the multiple award-winning one-litre EcoBoost petrol engine (five-seat Tourneo Connect only), along with the 1.6 Duratorq TDCi diesel and 1.6 EcoBoost petrol engine (also the only auto transmission in the range).
A comprehensive range of five- and seven-seat Connect Tourneos is available in three specification levels and two wheelbase configurations. Creature comforts include electric power-assisted steering, aircon with pollen filter, auto stop/start and (excuse Ford’s capital letters) an Active Grille Shutter to smooth the aerodynamics and reducing fuel consumption at speed.
SOUND AND TRIP DATA
Those additional seats for kiddies found in the back of the seven-seater derivative can be “folded and tumbled” to virtually disappear into the floor to allow more cargo area – don’t forget to remove the children…!
On the sound system front, the audio system plays through four speakers and has Bluetooth connectivity, USB and auxiliary inputs as well as remote controls on the steering-wheel for superb connectivity and easy use. A trip data computer measures instant and average fuel consumption, distance to empty, average speed, timer and outside temperature.
The range-topping Titanium models, in LWB Grand Tourneo Connect guise, are available in 1.6 TDCi manual and 1.6 EcoBoost six-speed auto. It also hosts “Active City Stop” (turns off the engine when you’re stationary), self-swivelling fog lights and auto headlights and wipers.
To help you stay on the road in extremis are electronic stability control, traction control, tyre-pressure monitors, torque vectoring control (self-selecting power to each driven wheel), hill-launch for dummies, load-adaptive control, trailer-sway control and roll-over mitigation.
If all that fails, then the anti-lock brakes with emergency fluid pressure and distribution should bring you to a safe stop anyway.
Driver and front-passenger crash bags are provided in the panel van, along with side and curtain airbags in the Tourneo range..
Transit Connect 1.6 TDCi Ambiente lwb R272 900 - R239 386 (excl.)
Tourneo Connect 1.0 EcoBoost Ambiente swbR269 900 - R236 754 (excl.)
Tourneo Connect 1.0 EcoBoost Trend swb R279 900 - R245 526 (excl.)
Grand Tourneo Connect 1.6 EcoBoost Titanium a/t lwb R359 900 - R315 702 (excl.)
Grand Tourneo Connect 1.6 TDCi Titanium lwb R367 900 - R322 719 (excl.)
Each Transit comes with a 60 000km service plan (four years for diesel and three for petrol), a four-year or 120 000km warranty, five-year unlimited distance corrosion warranty and three-year unlimited distance roadside assistance.
• Servicing is required every 20 000km on the EcoBoost petrol models every 15 000km on the TDCi diesels.