Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Despite its size, the Ford Transit is a great driver's van, thanks to its responsive steering. It is quite heavy, which adds to the feeling that you’re driving a big vehicle, but once you get to know it, the Transit is pretty nimble.
Stiffer underpinnings than in previous generations ensure that the van corners better and helps to limit body lean if you go around bends quickly. It’s a much more engaging van to drive than the Mercedes Sprinter, for sure, although it isn't as smooth.
The Transit's suspension is firm and can result in some bouncing around – particularly when unladen – but add some weight, even a small amount, and it’s a settled and smooth ride.
Of the four engines on offer, we’d recommend the 103bhp entry-level model for its overall performance. Because of the low-down torque on offer, it has a more than adequate amount of power, even for a large van. If you're going to really maximise the payload of a van with a 3.5-tonne or greater gross vehicle weight, though, one of the higher outputs will be necessary. And if you really want lots of power at your disposal, the new 182bhp variant is the one to choose.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, and although it’s a little notchy and requires a firm hand to find each gear, the high overall gearing makes the Transit well suited to motorway driving, with low noise levels.
The Ford Transit Trail option adds another dimension to the big van, enabling to go further off-road than your regular vans. Trial versions provide buyers with the option of a four-wheel-drive system or a more cost-effective standard front-wheel-drive model with a Quaife differential for improved low-grip capabilities.
Four-wheel-drive Transit Trails are on the rear-wheel drive version, so you get increased ground clearance along with electronics that can split 50% of the torque to the front axle. The addition of two driving modes, called Slippery and Mud/Rut allows you to manage the traction control system to deal with loose surfaces. An all-wheel-drive lock function gives you permanent four-wheel-drive with an even 50:50 torque split for even better performance off-road.
In reality, the systems are so effortless that you’d barely notice if you accidentally wandered off-piste in the Transit Trail. The similarities to a Ford Ranger pick-up truck are eerie, and were it not for the greater suspension travel available in a pick-up truck you’d likely be able to go just as far in the van as you would the truck.
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