Ford and Hyundai add more power and torque to their favourite vans
The tussle at the top of the van sales statistics has seen Toyota’s HiAce knocked off its top selling pedestal, in favour of Hyundai’s iLoad.
The latest VFacts sales figures for the first quarter of this year shows how, in the 2.5-3.5 tonnes GVM segment, Hyundai is hanging on to a slight lead over HiAce with 37.7 percent market share versus 36.2 percent, in turn, representing sales of 2,116 iLoads and 2,036 HiAce vans.
Back in third place is the ever-present Ford Transit. But, it’s a fair way behind in the sales race, with a market share of 7.0 percent that represents sales of 395 units. Volkswagen’s Transporter takes out fourth place with 6.5 percent and 366 sales, ahead of Mercedes-Benz’s Vito, which scored 4.7 percent with sales of 266 units. Also worthy of mention in this segment is that the Ford and the VW are both available in cab-chassis format, and these are included in the sales performance statistics, whereas all the other contenders are strictly van-only variants.
The European designed vans are increasingly attractive for buyers as they provide vastly improved driver comfort levels when compared to the Japanese-designed alternatives from Toyota and Mitsubishi. The Hyundai iLoad is placed a little in the middle between the two extremes, as, with a semi-bonneted design, this Korean built load carrier offers the compact external dimensions with a more comfortable interior that provides a walk-thru, or, in real terms, a slide across benefit for the driver to exit on the kerb side.
Both the Ford Transit and Hyundai iLoad have received recent upgrades in both power and torque, with the Ford actually gaining a new engine in the form of the new 2.2-litre TDCi diesel engine. For Hyundai, it’s basically the same engine but revised to offer a boost in both power and performance, and better drivability thanks to a six-speed manual gearbox that replaces the previous five-speed.
This new 2.2 TDCi Ford turbo-diesel engine is now common throughout the 2012 Transit range in two states of tune: 92 kW/330 Nm for the front-wheel-drive models and 114 kW/385 Nm for those offering rear-wheel-drive configuration.
Although the engine capacity has reduced by 200 cc, that’s a boost in output from the 92 kW engine of 7 kW and 30 Nm, and 11 kW and 10 Nm in the 114 kW version, when compared to the previous 2.4-litre engine.
The new version of the Ford is called the Transit 280S, and, thanks to its greater efficiency the combined-cycle fuel consumption, improves by 11 percent to 7.2 l/100 km with CO2 emissions level of 189 g/km.
The Hyundai iLoad has been enjoying tremendous popularity since its introduction. Its ability to achieve the number one sales spot now on a regular basis comes from offering an excellent overall package in the form of a full van or a crew van with a half-trimmed cabin and a rear bulkhead to separate off the cargo area.
From May of this year, all iLoad and iMax diesel variants will feature the upgraded CRDi engine of 2.5 litres. This is a four-cylinder, double overhead camshaft design with common-rail direct fuel injection, and it drives the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic transmission.
The new manual gearbox is claimed to reduce fuel consumption by around six percent for the iLoad and five percent for the people carrying iMax. For the van, this means a combined fuel figure of 8.0 l/100 km, with an emissions rating of 212 g/km. Figures for the auto are 8.8 l/100 km combined figure and an emissions level of 232 g/km.
Delivery Magazine has spent time in both these latest van versions, running the Transit 280S up the Hume Highway from Melbourne to Sydney and the iLoad over an extensive 800 km sector that took in both freeway driving and local urban roads.
The impressive standout feature of both these one-tonne payload contenders is the strength of each diesel engine.
Both four-cylinder diesels are well capable of sustaining consistent maximum cruising speeds on the freeway while under cruise control. For the iLoad, it’s a good transmission match irrespective of whether the buyer chooses manual or automatic transmissions. For Transit buyers, there’s still no availability of an automatic gearbox, a factor that has seriously impacted on its sales performance through the years.
Interior noise levels are low, but both could be lower if the cargo area was fitted with a full-width bulkhead. As both van derivatives came with dual passenger front seats, there was never any question of trying to gain access from the driver’s seat into the cargo area. On that premise, a full-width and height bulkhead achieves two benefits: it can greatly reduce transmitted noise levels and it provides safety benefits from the load shifting or being thrown forwards in a major impact.
When comparing cargo space, the interior of the iLoad offers dimensions of 2375 mm in length, 1620 mm in width and a height of 1350 mm. The distance between the wheel arches is 1260 mm. The Transit 280S comes in with an interior length of 2582 mm, a width of 1740 mm (1390 between wheel arches), and an interior height of 1430 mm.
Whereas the iLoad comes as a one-size-fits-all offering, there are seven different variants of the Transit, running from the smallest, the 280S front-wheel-drive version with a low roof height as tested, to the rear-wheel-drive long wheelbase, and rear-wheel-drive Jumbo with a high roof.
The Jumbo version increases the cargo volume from 10.8 to 13.9 cubic metres, and significantly ups the interior dimensions to a length of 4107 mm and an interior height of 1885 mm. The width remains constant, although the use of twin rear wheels for the Jumbo does reduce the width between wheel arches to 1153 mm. There is a lighter GVM version of the Jumbo, at 3550 kg, that fits single rear wheels to keep interior width levels at 1390 mm.
It pays to do some measurement analysis before signing the order form, even if only to ensure that on your first visit to an underground carpark you not only enter but can also leave. The overall roof height of the 280S is 2067 mm rising to 2622 mm for the Jumbo, and that doesn’t include the roof mounted radio antenna. The iLoad tops out at 1935 mm, but it’s still good practice to unscrew the short antenna to save any risk of damage.
There’s a swag of safety items with both vehicles, and the iLoad offers four-channel, four-sensor ABS and EBD with ESP and TCS system as standard on the diesel versions (anti-lock braking, electronic brake distribution, electronic stability and traction control). If your daily travels take you onto slippery surfaces, it’s even possible to add a locking rear differential on special order. Driver and passenger airbags are standard but reverse park sensors are optional.
Driver and passenger comfort levels include sliding doors on both sides of the iLoad, plus either a tailgate or barn doors at the rear. Power mirrors and windows, air conditioning, a two-speaker sound system with MP3, WMA, CD player and AM/FM radio, remote central locking, Bluetooth streaming with telephone connection and steering wheel mounted audio controls.
The standard spec of the Transit 280S doesn’t match the iLoad item for item, and to gain additional benefits such as cruise control, a front passenger airbag, dynamic stability control and reverse park sensors, the buyer needs to include the Professional Pack in the tick a box section on the order form. We checked with Ford as to whether a Bluetooth phone connection was included, and it appears this has to be retrofitted by the dealer or other supplier.
Both vans offer great practicality and can adapt easily from inner city urban delivery to the occasional interstate run without any drams. Both seating positions are excellent and the seat comfort puts many passenger cars to shame.
Transit wins on interior storage, and there are plenty of nooks and crannies to drop in order books, laptops, mobile phones and the inevitable coffee. iLoad here relies more on a fold down centre seat back to provide additional stowage and cup comfort.
Our Delivery price charts show the SWB Transit at $35,990 and the iLoad at $34,490. The final choice will really come from the requirement for the size and complexity of the load carried, and whether your driver prefers an automatic to a manual. The iLoad has a higher standard specification and offers an automatic option, over the manual gearbox only of the Transit.
For the driver, both vehicles are very sure-footed on the road and effortless even over long distances. Cabin entry and exit is easy, but, as the dimensions show, you get a fraction more space in the Transit. The downside of the extra space is more height, which might keep you out of an underground car park.
In terms of longevity, Ford offers a three-year/100,000 km warranty with Hyundai countering with a five-year/160,000 km warranty. Transit offers three-star crash safety rating while Hyundai raises the protection level to that of four stars. In our book, iLoad makes it to the winning post just ahead of Transit.