First Drive

Ford Fiestavan

The story:
After a brief gap, Ford has re-introduced the Fiesta van with the latest generation of passenger car due to customer demand
Key rival:Ford Transit Courier
On sale:Now
Load length/height/width:613mm/923mm/1281mm

For a very brief time in 2018 there was no contender in the small car-derived van market, with both Ford and Vauxhall pulling the van versions of the Fiesta and Corsa from sale.

Ford has bowed to customer pressure, though, and reintroduced the Fiesta Van for 2019.

The 2019 version follows exactly the same formula as previous iterations and is as simple a van as you might imagine. Fundamentally, Ford has taken a passenger version of the Fiesta, blanked out the side windows and added a bulkhead and a loadbay floor lining. Everything else, from the suspension to the steering and the engine, is identical to that of the passenger car.

It takes no time at all to realise exactly why Ford’s existing Fiesta Van owners were not happy with the prospect of having to move into a Transit Courier instead of a new Fiesta. As good as the Courier is, the Fiesta is an absolute triumph, and a wonderfully entertaining small van to drive.

Not only is the suspension identical to the standard car’s set-up, but also this Sport Van version deliberately sets out to appeal to those that don’t want ferrying goods around to be a chore. It comes with the sports suspension that offers a touch of firmness that helps it nip around corners in an entertaining manner, yet still provides reassuring comfort when tackling the more mundane elements of urban driving, such as potholes and speed bumps. Add in the firm and well weighted power steering and this is a vehicle that is more fun than any van has the right to be.

The 120hp 1.5-litre engine is a glorious fit for the Fiesta, too. It is nippy, but not in a way that seems gratuitous – it feels just as swift as the passenger car’s 9.0-second 0-62mph time, if you feel so inclined. With an official fuel economy figure of 67.3mpg, it promises to keep running costs low, too.

Removing the rear seats and a load of other sound-absorbing substances, and fitting a half-height steel bulkhead (the top is meshed metal) could make the Fiesta Van a noisy ride, but it still manages to keep the majority of the ambient sound out of the car-like cabin.

In fact, keep your eyes facing forward up front and you could fool yourself into thinking you are sitting in one of the conventional Fiesta hatchbacks. It certainly comes with a selection of equipment that many car customers would be happy with.

Front and centre of all this is the new infotainment screen, which can be fitted with the latest Sync3 system. The Ford system is one that has made fantastic leaps over the previous version and it is simple to use, clear and swift to react.

Buying a Fiesta might not be the most practical decision you ever make, with a payload of jut 511kg (the petrol is only just below this at 508kg) but for those that only take light urban loads, there is no van out there that is as enjoyable and easy to drive.

The verdict

The best-driving van out there, if not the most practical