FORD IN FOCUS

The Transit Custom gets an all-new big brother

Previewed two years ago at the IAA Show in Hannover, Ford’s replacement for the traditional Transit van is finally heading to the Australian market, where it joins the recently introduced Transit Custom.

Built in Turkey, rather than the previous Transit factories of Genk in Belgium or Southampton in the United Kingdom, the all-new Transit has started off well in the sales race in Britain where it has already won awards for ability and design.

In the UK market Ford offers an extensive range of light commercials with a branding that results in Transit Connect, Transit Custom, and now the traditional Transit replacement it calls the Transit Cargo. There are also the car-derived vans such as the Fiesta.

The Australian market is not so lucky, and Ford has decided to stay with a two-model range comprising the Transit Custom and new Transit, opting not to add the Cargo name but referring to it as the VO version, the natural successor to the previous VN model.Ford-Transit_dash

Ford is backing its new Transit with claims it will survive 10 years of the toughest treatment by using an especially punishing accelerated ageing process as part of its development.

Durability tests included the equivalent of driving 11 million kilometres – or 275 round-the-world trips – at state-of-the-art proving grounds and in extreme conditions across the globe where temperatures ranged from +40 to -40 deg. C.

As the first Transit to be sold in both Europe and North America, the all-new model was subjected to this testing at both Ford’s facilities in Lommel, Belgium, and in Romeo, Michigan.

At Lommel, the all-new Transit, including van, chassis/cab and minibus versions, was put through more than 30 punishing vehicle tests. These included the trailer tow general durability test, conducted at maximum weight with a fully-loaded trailer and being driven at top speed non-stop for two months, pounding over rough gravel roads, and through salt- and mud-baths. The prototypes were also tested for corrosion resistance in high-humidity chambers for 12 weeks, and put through non-stop figure-of-eight manoeuvres for one month.

Engineers have driven the all-new Transit more than 5,000 times over an extreme course of potholes and bumps, and conducted a strength test by driving it at 60 km/h (37 mph) into a 14-centimetre-high kerb.

Ford also tested the Transit prototypes from the Austrian Alps to Death Valley – in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. Vehicles faced the 40 deg. C heat of Arizona, Dubai and South Africa, the bitter -40 deg. C cold in Finland and Canada, as well as challenging journeys through Europe, the Middle East, Russia, Turkey and the US.

Ford-Transit_2Prior to launch, the new model covered more than 300,000 miles of tough real-world use with high-mileage Transit customers. In the test labs, the all-new Transit’s 2.2-litre Duratorq diesel engine was subjected to 46 days of continuous high-load urban driving on specialised rigs, as part of tens of thousands of hours of engine testing. Component test rigs were used to simulate real-world punishment, replicating the full 10-year vehicle lifecycle in just 30 days.

Ford has made more than 100 significant improvements to the Transit as a direct result of its testing regime, including the redesign of the side rail on jumbo van models, and strengthening of the rear cross-member on chassis/cabs.

The Australian Transit line-up will consist of six new variants: the 350L LWB Van and 350E LWB Jumbo Van, both with single rear wheels; plus the 470E LWB Jumbo Van, the 470E Single Cab Chassis, and the 470E Double Cab Chassis, each with dual rear wheels. The 410E 12-seat bus, which features single rear wheels, will be available in 2015. Payloads range from 1,122-2,500 kg with a maximum GVM of 4,490 kg.

Each model is powered by the Ford’s Euro V compliant 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engine, mated to a six-speed manual transmission and featuring stop/start technology. Maximum power of 114 kW is produced at 3,500 rpm with peak torque of 385 Nm rated from 1,600-2,300 rpm.

The Transit comes with a full suite of safety features, including driver and front passenger airbags, seat side airbags and side curtain airbags, emergency assistance, dynamic stability control (DSC), anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), traction control system (TCS), rollover mitigation, load adaptive control, torque vectoring control, trailer sway control, and three-point seat belts (all positions).

Pricing for the new model has jumped significantly and runs from $47,680 through to $52,680, with high-roof options adding a further $1500. A City Pack of front and rear parking sensors, front fog lamps and a rear-parking camera adds a further $1500. Warranty support is five-years/200,000 km. There is no automatic transmission option available.

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