Wednesday 10 April 2013
Ford Fiesta Van 1.5 Duratorq TDCi (2013 - ) expert review
By John Fife
£11,870 (ex VAT)
Verdict 4.2 out of 5
“On the basis that most good things come in small packages, then the latest version of Ford’s Fiesta Van adds a bit of glamorous lustre to the commercial package. That’s down to the new nose treatment with its Aston Martin-ish grille and tidy tail treatment. From any angle it’s a smart little looker and ideal for those whose cargo needs are modest.”
• Rake and reach adjustable steering column
• Tailgate opens high, so no head-banging
• Pleasant and practical cabin
• Capless refuelling system can dribble
• High and wide loadspace sill
• Low nose so beware high kerbs
The re-styled nose has divided public opinion. Many folk don’t like the fact that it looks so similar to the Aston Martin silhouette, whereas the majority seem to favour its new upmarket good looks. Other than that, there is little to criticise and the little spoiler above the tailgate window just adds a nicely contoured finish to its rounded rump. Although the headlamp units look the same as the previous Fiesta, they are in fact slightly different in shape and include laser cut lenses to improve output. The only niggle is the little rubberised air dam which is tacked on to the underside of the front bumper and which can rub when parking nose first into kerbs, so be careful.
Our rating: 4.5
This being a proper car-derived-van it comes as no surprise to find the interior is pretty much the same as the Fiesta saloon car. That has a number of benefits. Things that might be regarded as extras in other LCVs are standard in this, like the rake and reach adjustable steering wheel and a USB and MP3 port alongside a 12v power socket. It’s also very comfortable to sit in and has an adjustable seat able to accommodate most folk quite comfortably, including the likes of lanky Vernon Kay, with adequate leg room and decent head room. The cloth trim feels quite tough so should stand up to abuse and if the plastics are child-proof in the car versions, then the van should be able to withstand rigger boots and hard hats. The floor is carpeted so rubber mats would be an advisable extra. Storage is limited in the cabin although there are cubby holes in the back, but the door pockets will hold a couple of half-litre bottles and there is a two-cup recess beside the gear lever with an additional slot behind them. In addition to the glovebox there are a couple of shallow shelves ahead of the gearshift and in the top centre of the dash, but anything you put there will slide out at the first roundabout. As for the dashtop itself, it’s not exactly flat, but you can stack paperwork and newspapers there when parked up and having a cuppa.
Our rating: 4
Based on the two-door saloon car means that the doors are pretty wide which makes getting in and out of a small van very easy. In a similar fashion, the rear tailgate opens up high and out of the way, so taller folks who are prone to bump their heads on other compact vehicles will remain scar-free and painless. On the other hand, it won’t keep you dry if working at the rear in the rain. The only downside here is that the tailgate bottom sill is quite wide and the floor level a good eight inches below, so hefting a heavy toolbox out and in will require a bit of heaving and grunting to lift it up, in, and down, and then again on the way out. However, a tough plastic sill cover and rubber flooring will protect the interior against the heavy handed or careless idiot. There are four tie-down load lashing loops, but thoughtfully, Ford have left the shopping bag hooks where the car’s rear parcel shelf used to sit. These are ideal for securing smaller items, like the plastic bag of screws, rawlplugs and driver bits purchased at B&Q. A minor point, but a thoughtful one. Either that, or a lucky oversight. Another point worth noting is that the ‘B’ pillar on this small van does not impinge on vision at tight junctions. Based on the two-door Fiesta saloon, as opposed to the four-door, means that the ‘B’ pillar is pretty much behind the seatbacks, not in front or even alongside. Much appreciated in busy city centre traffic.
Our rating: 4
4. Ride and handling
Again, the benefit of a car-derived van becomes apparent on the move. The light and nimble little Fiesta darts in and out of traffic like Super Mario over pipework and even when running empty, it coped admirably with Birmingham’s pot-holed streets and canal bank cobbles. That’s down to the car-based independent MacPherson struts at the front with twist beam axle at the rear on coil springs. Complementing that were the sensible 175/65 x 14 inch tyres, with decent sized sidewalls, on steel wheels. Although 14, 15, 16 and even 17 inch alloy rims are optional, these steel rims shod with 65 aspect tyres helped to further absorb unexpected bone-jarring shocks from Britain’s ill-cared-for tarmac.
Our rating: 5
Both the 1498cc 75 hp and 1560cc 95 hp turbo diesels provide a surprisingly nippy response despite their modest size and Euro-5 emission levels. And since these are primarily urban runabouts, the five speed gearbox is more than adequate for everyday use. There is a 1.25 litre, 82hp petrol version of the small van, but both diesels emit sub-100 g/km emissions where as the petrol produces just over the more desired 100 g/km level with 120 g/km. Weighing barely more than 1100kgs, torque is not an issue in such a light vehicle. Of course, the two diesels will provide a bit more grunt lower down, but the gearbox will need to be stirred frequently to make the best use of it – they don’t like pulling away in second.
Our rating: 4
6. Running costs
This is the part that will require a calculator and the need to exercise the lump of fractious gristle between most buyers’ ears. That’s because prospective purchasers will have to work out exactly how their van will be used as fuel consumption and purchase price varies. The basic 74 hp, 1.5 litre van claims a Combined Fuel Consumption figure of 76.4 mpg whereas the 94hp 1.6 litre model with ECOnetic Technology will return up to 85.6 mpg on the same cycle. However, the 1.5 litre van will set you back £11,870 (plus VAT) whereas the 1.6 ECO version adds £650 to the price at £12,520 At todays’ prices that £650 difference will allow the 1.5-litre purchaser to buy 464 litres of diesel, that’s ten and a half tankfuls of fuel. It then becomes more complicated because there is also a 1.25 litre petrol version on sale that costs £10,980 (plus VAT) but it will only do 54.3mpg on the combined cycle, but it will have to be remembered that petrol is around 7p per litre more expensive than diesel. In other words, low mileage users might be better off with the petrol van, but not if they operate within the London Congestion Charge Zone. Both diesels beat the 100 g/km limit, but not the petrol powered option. The Fiesta van comes with a 3 year/60,000 mile warranty, although a 4 yr/80,000 mile warranty can be had for an extra £130 or 5 yrs/100,000 miles for £240.
Our rating: 4
7. Cargo area
There’s a lot to be said for loadfloors which are at the same level as the tailgate sill when putting loads in the back of a van. Particularly if you’ve got a pretty comprehensive Snap-On socket set which requires a two handed lift at the best of times. The sill level is 803 mm (31 inches) from ground level, but the floor inside the boot is 8 inches below the sill, so goods have to be lifted over the sill and lowered inside. It doesn’t sound much for the young and fit, but for the old and weak it’s a different matter. Then again, the H&S police reckon that oldies shouldn’t be doing any heavy lifting anyway. Otherwise the one cubic metre loadspace is entirely practical with a steel bulkhead and four tie-down loops and a full length tough rubber floor mat. The loadfloor is 1.3 metres long, but slightly longer items, like 1.5m fluorescent light tubes, can be carried at an angle, and the payload is up to 508kg.
Our rating: 4
The Fiesta van comes as standard with all round ABS/EBD disc brakes, while ‘Trend’ models get ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) with Traction Assist. There are airbags for both driver and passenger, but side airbags are a 250 quid option, while regenerative braking technology is incorporated across the range.
Our rating: 4
Standard spec in the Fiesta is pretty good with a rake and reach adjustable, multi-function steering wheel and a CD/radio with MP3 compatibility and an AUX socket. Remote key entry with auto-relocking is a standard fit too along with an engine immobiliser, ideal for those couriers carrying high value small items like pharmaceuticals and electrical components. In addition to ESP with Hill Start, going for the slightly more luxurious Trend trim at £730 extra, adds a DAB radio with Ford SYNC, and the much appreciated heated front windscreen and rain sensitive wipers, under-bumper fog lamps, auto headlamps and auto dimming rear mirror. The Ford SYNC system with Emergency Assistance built in will provide peace of mind to fleet operators, especially those who employ women and younger drivers. In the event of an accident, help will be summoned automatically. For the same reasons, the Ford MyKey option for an extra £50 is well worth considering. This allows the second key to be programmed to limit vehicle speeds and range. Active City Stop is another £700 option which might prove invaluable in busy town and city centres as it has been designed to help avoid low speed on-road collisions. As for the ‘Sport’ model, that is available with the 1.6 litre diesel engine only, and for an extra £870 adds more airbags, air conditioning, Cruise Control, scuff plates for the door sills and alloy wheels with locking wheel nuts.
Our rating: 4
10. Why buy?
“It’s a good looking wee van without being too cute and unappealing to the more butch van drivers, so no Postman Pat jokes. It’s every bit as smart inside as out, with hard wearing trim, comfy seats and a pleasing finish to the trim and furniture. It’s also very frugal, but think carefully about which engine option to buy to maximise your value for money depending on what you’re going to use it for. It’s also a Ford, which means servicing costs and parts prices should be more than competitive compared to its rivals. And when you reverse it into your drive, the neighbours might be fooled into thinking you’ve got an Aston Martin, albeit a very small one.”
Our rating: 4.5