April 26, 2019

Fiesta Sport Van lives up to its name

Dan Gilkes enjoys the pace in Ford’s baby.

There was a time when manufacturers were lining up to remove the back seats from a car, install a flat load platform and block out the rear side windows to create a car-derived van. Clios, Corsas, 208s, Puntos and of course Ford’s Fiesta provided a low-cost LCV solution for numerous businesses.

Yet, as smaller high-cube vans like Ford’s Transit Courier have developed, so the need for a real small car-based model has dropped. Or so the manufacturers thought. Plenty of drivers mourned the news that Ford would no longer build the Fiesta Van.

However, a couple of larger fleets obviously brought their buying power to bear and, at last year’s CV Show, Ford back-tracked and announced that it would once again sell a Fiesta-based LCV. Available in range-topping Fiesta Sport Van trim only, the compact Ford is back on the price lists.

There aren’t many driveline choices, just a 1.5-litre diesel engine or the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol motor. The diesel delivers 120bhp with 270Nm of torque, with the petrol engine pumping out 125bhp and 170Nm.

Both deliver more than enough power to provide rapid performance from the compact van, with a standard six-speed manual gearbox delivering relaxed progress at higher speeds. Unusually, the other big choice that buyers need to make is how big they want the wheels to be. They can specify 16”, 17” or the 18” wheels that we have on our test van (£480 extra). For the diesel van, the three wheel sizes result in combined fuel figures of 67.3mpg, 65.7mpg or 64.2mpg respectively, with CO2 outputs of 107, 109 and 111g/km.

In terms of specification, it’s a similar tale, with the standard van boasting a host of kit including sports suspension and seats, body coloured spoilers and side skirts, LED daytime running lights, electric windows and mirrors, Quickclear heated windscreen, manual air conditioning and a dash that is dominated by an 8” full colour touchscreen.

The standard SYNC DAB radio and entertainment system had been upgraded to SYNC 3 on our van (£480), adding sat-nav, voice control, Apple and Android compatibility, Bluetooth and remote-audio controls.

Other options on our van included the Race Red paint (£180), a larger rear spoiler (£180), LED headlights and LED rear lights (£660) and the FordPass Connect modem (£252), which provides access to a range of online services. It also creates a Wi-Fi network on board for up to 10 devices.

Of course, this is still a van and some buyers will actually want to carry things in the back. Ford has equipped the Fiesta with a flat load bed and a steel and mesh bulkhead. The van offers a payload of 511kg in diesel form and the load volume is just under 1.0m3. The rear hatch makes it relatively easy to reach into the load bay, though you will need long arms to reach to the front to retrieve parcels.

The Fiesta Sport Van is perhaps one of the few sporty LCVs that actually deserves the title. The handling and control are on another level to any other light van, with a cross-country pace that would put many cars to shame. The big wheels and lowered suspension do make things slightly firm over poor road conditions, but the van combines easy motorway performance with nippy in town abilities.

The van won’t appeal to every business user, but there are obviously enough out there to make Ford change its corporate mind. We are currently having some work done on the house, with a variety of trades in and out. Given their reaction to the van, Ford should have no problem selling every Fiesta Sport Van that it can build.