The smallest member of the Ford van family, the Transit Courier offers decent carrying space in a compact package
4.0 out of 5
- Build quality
- Practical cab
- Great to drive
- One body style
- Limited engine range
- Sport model all show, no go
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Low running costs should be the cornerstone of any commercial vehicle, and that’s doubly important at the smaller end of the LCV segment. The Transit Courier doesn’t disappoint on this score, with a WLTP test-best of 65.7mpg and emissions of 129g/km in its most economical guise.
Those figures are courtesy of Ford’s 1.5 TDCi diesel, and both the 75PS and 100PS engines have the same quoted figure, although the Sport model dips slightly, with best economy of 64.3mpg and emissions of 133g/km. Standard-fit stop-start will help keep running costs down.
Go for the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, and again stop-start helps the 100PS engine return 49.6mpg in the Transit Courier Leader, while higher spec Trend and Limited variants have a WLTP best of 48.7mpg. Emissions are in the 152-153g/km range. Ford fits its EasyFuel system to all cars to prevent operators unwittingly putting petrol in their diesel van and visa-versa.
All Transit Couriers, irrespective of petrol or diesel power, have service intervals that have been stretched to 20,000 miles. There’s a 3-year/100,000-mile warranty on all models and residual values are up with the best in the class. It all goes towards making the Courier an extremely cost-effective van to run.
Load Space and Practicality
Measuring 4,175mm long and just over 2,060mm wide, including its unfurled door mirrors, the Transit Courier naturally gives away something in load space compared to larger vans. Ford has made the best of what space there is, though, with a 2.3 cubic metre load volume and a maximum payload of 595kg that’s reasonable for a small van.
The load bay really is surprisingly generous, with a 1,620mm load length at floor level and 1,012mm between the wheelarches so that a Europallet will fit. All models get a moulded bulkhead as standard, but there’s the option of adding a steel bulkhead with a window for better rear visibility. Alternatively, the optional folding mesh bulkhead swings open to increase the load length to 2,590mm. It comes with a less comfortable folding passenger seat but many operators will happily specify it for the extra versatility (not available on the Transit Courier Sport).
The Courier’s asymmetrically-split side hinged rear doors open to 158 degrees and the sliding side doors (single sided on Trend and above, a second door is available at extra cost) provide impressively wide access points to the rear. With six tie-down points and optional LED lighting, the load bay has been well thought out in this van.
Reliability and Safety
All Transit Courier models get stability control and ABS with brake assist and brake force distribution. There’s a driver’s airbag but no passenger airbag as standard, while side airbags are also optional. Also on the standard kit list are big van features such as Hill Launch Assist, Trailer Sway Control and Roll-over Mitigation.
The Trend models add useful features like auto headlamps and wipers but Ford’s excellent Quickclear heated windscreen is a cost option on all models.
Ford claims to have subjected the Transit Courier to a rigorous testing programme that’s 35% more severe than that applied to its passenger cars. Over one million miles were covered in various conditions and on the full range of road surfaces. Ford even took the time out to slam the Transit Courier’s doors 250,000 times. A multi-piece rear bumper and high-mounted lights help to keep repair costs down should an accident happen.
Security is handled by a standard remote central locking system that allows you to select which doors it opens. There are two optional alarm systems – a basic perimeter alarm, or a more advanced Thatcham Category One system that will impress your insurance company more.
Driving and Performance
The 1.5 TDCi diesel is the mainstay of the Transit Courier range. The 1.5-litre unit offers either 74bhp and 170Nm of torque or 99bhp and 215Nm if you go for the 100PS version.
With torque available from low revs, the 100PS engine is a punchy performer. All vans feature a six-speed manual gearbox (there’s no auto option) and power is sent to the front wheels. Refinement is generally good, with the noise levels in the cab only becoming intrusive as the engine homes in on the top of its rev range, by that time the power is starting to tail off anyway, and both units are flexible enough to make the Courier feel light on its feet around town.
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The other engine option is the 1.0-litre EcoBoost, a powerplant we’ve been thoroughly impressed with in Ford’s passenger cars. It’s the cheapest of the Courier’s three engines (around £700 less than the 75PS diesel, and a decent £1,200 less than the 100PS), and with 99bhp plus a charismatic off-beat three-cylinder thrum it’s the most enjoyable to drive.
That counts for little in the LCV space, however, and unless you’re sticking solely to urban centres, the fuel economy penalty of petrol power will be too big to overcome. On our test the performance and superior refinement of the EcoBoost unit impressed but the diesel model felt slightly more planted on the road, possibly as a result of the extra weight in the nose.
Ford has managed to transfer the supple ride and handling fluency we’ve come to expect from the Fiesta to the Transit Courier, and the result is an excellent driver’s van. It corners with impressive stability, steers precisely and rides smoothly. The six-speed manual gearbox is also great to use.
Cab and Interior
Even the entry-level Transit Couriers get a height and reach adjustable steering wheel that helps create a comfortable driving position for drivers of most sizes. There’s also good visibility out of the front and, surprisingly, the rear too – if you specify the glazed bulkhead and rear doors.
Much of the switchgear in the cab is lifted from Ford passenger cars, and an update in 2019 introduced Ford’s Sync3 touchscreen infotainment system, which decluttered the centre console significantly. However, the switches that govern the ventilation system lower down on the centre console are still a little fiddly to use thanks to the small buttons.
Space for the driver and front passenger are far better than you’d expect in a van of this size and it’s the same story for storage space. The deep storage bin between the front seats is backed-up by large door pockets and a decent glovebox. Trend models get an overhead storage shelf and more space under the passenger seat.
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There’s now a Ford Transit variant for sale that will suit any occasion, and if you want the smallest model in the line-up, you’re looking at it here, the Transit Courier. In official terminology it’s a B-platform integrated style van – in other words a purpose-built vehicle that’s based on the same underpinnings as Ford’s B-segment cars. The Transit Courier has been around for a few years now – it first went on sale in 2013 – and it’s based on the same running gear that featured in the B-Max small MPV and previous-generation Fiesta. While it’s a small Transit, the Courier isn’t the smallest van that Ford makes – the Fiesta Van is based on the current generation Fiesta.
The Courier comes from a famous family, but it’s still a pretty niche product. It used to rival the now-discontinued Peugeot Bipper and Citroen Nemo, so now its only direct rival is the Fiat Fiorino, but that van feels pretty old in comparison, especially because the Transit Courier was given an update in 2019 to keep it fresh. Other alternatives to consider include larger models in the compact van market, including Ford’s own Transit Connect. However, the Courier is targeted principally at urban users who need a van that’s nippy in traffic and easy to park, and in that instance, it fits the bill.
For a while, Ford offered a five-seat Transit Courier Kombi, but if you want more than two seats from a Transit Courier today, you’ll have to move across to the Tourneo Courier small MPV. There’s just a single Transit Courier panel van body option, but it comes in Leader, Trend, Limited and Sport trims, and all models get ESC stability control, remote central locking, fuel-saving stop-start, a DAB radio with Bluetooth and USB connection, a fixed bulkhead, asymmetric rear doors and an engine immobiliser.
Go for Trend trim, and you get a sliding side door, plastic wheel trims, auto lights and wipers, electric windows and mirrors, a locking glovebox and SYNC 3 touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, among other things.
At the top of the range, Limited models get a sharper exterior look and alloy wheels, air-con and a bigger Sync3 screen, while Sport models feature body stripes, black alloys and extra leather trim inside.
Three turbocharged engines are offered: a 1.5 TDCi diesel in 75PS (74bhp) and 100PS (99bhp) guises and a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost 100PS petrol. Which engine you get depends on the trim you choose: the EcoBoost is offered in all trims (although it’s only expected to account for a fraction of overall sales), but the Leader only comes with the 75PS diesel, while both TDCi engines are available in Trend trim, and Limited and Sport models only offer the 100PS diesel. Van payloads range between 519kg and 595kg.
Based on Ford passenger car underpinnings, the Transit Courier drives extremely well for a small van. Economy from the impressive engine range is very strong with up to 66mpg quoted in WLTP testing. Ford has also done fine work in creating a roomy cabin and a user-friendly load bay in the limited space available.