Ford has extended its mild hybrid technology to the smallest van in the range, says Dan Gilkes.
For some customers, the Fiesta Van remains the ideal compact delivery vehicle, tackling urban back streets with the same ease as longer inter-city journeys. Now offered solely with petrol power, the Fiesta is the latest model to benefit from Ford’s mild hybrid (mHEV) technology.
Where Fiesta Van used to be available with a choice of petrol or diesel engines, buyers are now limited to the three-cylinder, 1.0-litre, EcoBoost petrol engine. This is no bad thing however, as the award-winning motor churns out a powerful 125hp, backed up by a healthy 170Nm of torque.
As with the larger Transit mHEV models, the Fiesta Van is also offered in mHEV trim, with a belt-driven starter/generator and a 48V lithium-ion battery pack, located under the passenger seat. It also comes with an enhanced Auto Start-Stop system.
The battery is charged by the engine while driving and through brake regeneration. The electrical power is then returned to assist the engine during acceleration, boosting torque while the turbocharger is spooling up, to enhance performance and reduce fuel consumption.
The improvement is relatively small, around 1mpg and 3g/km of CO2, when compared to the non-mHEV version of the van, though the list price rises by a fairly hefty £1,277. However, the system certainly contributes to impressive performance, with the stop/start system cutting in before you even roll to a halt.
The engine drives through a slick six-speed manual gearbox to the front wheels and 125hp is more than enough for spirited performance in such a compact van.
Load carrying capacity
Few buyers will opt for a Fiesta Van as a major load hauler. That said, the van offers almost 1m3 of load volume, seeming much bigger than that when you open up the rear hatch. There is a half solid, half mesh bulkhead behind the seats, to protect the driver and passenger if you fail to secure the load and the rear side windows are of course blanked off as part of the transformation to LCV.
Adding a 48V battery and the starter/generator system does add a bit of mass, but Ford has increased the Fiesta’s gross weight, to ensure that the mHEV version can carry the same 515kg as the non-hybrid van. Likewise, should you ever wish to tow with the compact Ford, maximum trailer weight is set at 1,100kg.
In the cab
If you pick up a brochure at your local Ford dealer, it would appear that the Fiesta Van is only available in top of the range Sport trim. Indeed, to retail buyers that is now the case. However, fleet and business buyers can also order the baby Ford in more workmanlike Trend trim.
While our Sport van comes with 17” alloys, LED headlights and tail lamps, a Sport styling body kit, sport suspension and seats, the Trend model makes do with more practical 16” steel wheels, LED reflector headlights and a body-coloured rear spoiler.
Both models get Ford SYNC DAB radio with an 8” touchscreen, Bluetooth and the FordPass on-board modem. You also get manual air conditioning, EcoCoach and tyre pressure monitoring. The Sport van adds keyless starting, a rather chunky sports steering wheel, the essential Quickclear heated windscreen and a Thatcham Cat 1 alarm.
Our test van had some tasty options fitted too, including heated seats (£60) and a heated steering wheel (£96), both of which were very welcome as it snowed almost continually during our week with the van. Perhaps more useful was the comprehensive Exclusive pack 9 (£708), that includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Assist, Distance Indication, Distance Alert, Intelligent Speed Assistance, Driver Impairment Monitor, Speed Sign Recognition, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Aid.
On the road
Small Fords have been known for their handling for many years and sporty Fiestas in particular are surefooted and agile. In that respect this Sport Van is no exception. That said, the steering did have a strangely artificial feel to it at times, perhaps due to the lane keeping systems.
However, while this might be the smallest van in the Ford line-up, it feels like a much more grown-up proposition than some of its predecessors. Comfortable and capable at all speeds, you could happily live with this van as day-to-day transport, whether working in the country or in the busiest town centre. Or indeed both, as the Fiesta is equally capable in both settings.
It is almost folklore now that Ford dropped the Fiesta Van from its line-up some years ago, only for a couple of larger customers to howl in anguish and insist on its relaunch. As a load-hauling commercial vehicle, the Transit Courier obviously makes a better van. But for those who don’t need ultimate carrying capacity or load volume, this car-derived LCV still offers all the van that they need and more.
Ford Fiesta Sport Van mHEV
Basic price £17,877
Engine 1.0 petrol mild hybrid Power 125bhp Torque 170Nm
GVW 1,635 Kerb weight 1,104 Payload 515
Load space length 1,283 Load space width 1,281 Load space height 923 Width between w/arches 984 Load volume (m3) 0.96
Fuel tank (litres) 42 MPG (WLTP) 55.4 CO2 emissions 116g/km Service interval 2 year/18,000 miles Warranty Three years/60,000 miles