Latest in the line of motoring review, is the Ford Transit Minibus. Bit of a curveball? Well most of these rentals are whatever I’ve had for the day job, before I’ve been up & down the country so it’s been cars, today & tomorrow I’m ferrying people, so I’ve got the Transit.
This can only be described as the ultimate people carrier, never mind the 7 seater awful Vauxhall Zafari with next to useless seats 6 & 7 suitable only for pixies, Galaxies that you have to squeeze in to the back of for seats 7 & 8, or even my favourite, the Toyota Previa, with it’s sliding seats, fab if you all want to get out, not so good if just one. With the Transit you’ve got seating for 17, all with seat belts, all with aisle access, and only a bit of neck bending, so even granny can use the back row.
There’s no fancy flex system, or quick release seats, these are all bolted down, and fixed back, so strangely enough, you can’t convert your transit minibus in to a transit van, even though you can attempt to turn your Galaxy in to one and then discover it’s even smaller inside than a dinky Transit connect. The Transit does suffer from the same issue as the Galaxy, Zafari & all it’s other brethren, whilst it can seat so many people, you’ve got bugger all luggage space.
Up front it’s pretty sparse, especially when you think it’s cost £33,552. No that’s not a misprint, the 17 seater minibus starts at over £33k before you add options, but, don’t forget a pair of 8 seater Galaxies would set you back the thick end of £50,000, so the Transit is suddenly a bargain, especially if you can claim the vat back bringing the price down to £28,731.
It really is function over form up front, big chunky cup holders, the good old Ford CD radio up front, with a hidden aux in socket in the oddments bin above the passenger air bag, 6 speed box, a pair of air bags and electric windows. Head room up front is enough even Marge Simpson wouldn’t have any issues with her hair rubbing on the roof. It’s a bit plasticy, but it’s a van, and it’s honest plastic, which I’d rather have than that painted silver plastic trying to be aluminium. If you fancy making your van a bit more special, you can specify metallic paint, which, bearing in mind the amount of pain involved is a bargain £400 option, you can also add air con, tacho (£500 & fitted to this), privacy packs, appearance packs, fog lights, rear air con, sat nav & BT handsfree kit.
This new generation of Transits caused some horror amongst the petrol heads, they were moving to front wheel drive, with rear wheel drive being optional. Luckily on the long wheel base they are rear wheel drive as standard, but unfortunately they are fitted with traction control, and whilst it has an off button, it quickly turns itself back on if it senses you trying to play. So you need a wet road & bravery to play with the rear of one of these nowadays.
Despite the size, it never feels quite so big from the driver seat, at least unless you find yourself down a tight dead end, it can be hurried along roads at quite an aplomb, it rides quite well, and gives you the confidence to drive it at speeds the bulk of it suggests you really shouldn’t, at least till the limited kicks in at 62mph. It lacks the thickness of sound deadening of the car range so it’s a bit noisier, and from the squeaks out back, it evidently isn’t quite so tightly put together either.
But, for it’s few foibles you can forgive it, the Transit is a legend, it’s been about longer than most of us, seen off various rivals, it’s great because it doesn’t try to be anything that it isn’t, it’s built to move things, be it people in the minibus, or just about anything else in the van or on the back of the flat bed versions, and that’s exactly what it does.
Thanks to GK Group Chesterfield for their kind loan of the Transit.