Published on Monday 16 December 2019 in Van News
Having reviewed & driven a fair few small vans in 2019, it's time to reveal the top 3 & crown a best small van of 2019. Tom Roberts reports.
Small vans come in all shapes & sizes these days, & during 2019 I was lucky enough to review & drive a fair few of them (even getting the opportunity to see them being built at one point).
While you see more medium vans on the road, small vans are a staple choice for the van-driving tradespeople that make up the backbone of the British economy. So, here's my top 3 small vans of 2019… let me know if you agree.
Bronze: Ford Fiesta Sport Van
In third place… I'll be honest, I was at a bit of a loss with the Ford Fiesta Sport Van when it first turned up at HQ. I like my commercial vehicles to be the classic van shape, but the Sport Van is basically just a panelled-out Fiesta… it didn't take long for it to break down my defences.
This isn't the first time the Fiesta has been released in van format, it was only around for a few short years on its first pass, & now it's back with its car-like looks & a pacey 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine under the hood helping to carry a 500kg payload.
It was such a great van to drive with the engine returning 125PS whenever I slammed the accelerator down… to put that in context, the Ford Transit Custom's 2.0-litre diesel engine returns 130PS!
Silver: Vauxhall Combo Cargo
At number 2… & looking a big more van-like, the Vauxhall Combo Cargo is the biggest Combo available in the range & a great contender for your attention. There are no height options, just lengths & it looks good in grey/white/blue whatever colour really… I've seen it in all the colours it comes in & it's just a good-looking van whatever it's wearing.
But those looks are nothing compared to its practical 1.5-litre turbo diesel engine & a max payload of 955kg. If it falls down anywhere, it's that the Combo Cargo was a slightly mixed bag in the cabin, it's a dream on the road & has one of the best loading bays of a small van with doors on all three sides of the load space – it deserves consideration for that alone.
I can forgive interior blandness when the whole package comes together so brilliantly. Vauxhall set out to make a small van that works for UK users who haul cargo & they've succeeded admirably.
Small Van Of The Year: Ford Transit Connect
Finally, my best small van of 2019 is the Ford Transit Connect & it truly is a small van that packs a punch. Let's stack it up - an excellent cabin (one of the best I've ever sat in, with some of the best cup holders on the market), a load space that tops out at payloads of nearly 1000kg, & an overall look that screams Ford's excellent build quality. The version I reviewed was the Limited trim level, which means heated seats, alloy wheels & loads of other comfort improvements over the base model.
It's truer now more than ever, that Ford's Transit Connect faces fierce competition in the small van sector & there are plenty of other vans that might turn your head. While others might pack user-friendly interiors or knock-out front ends, the Connect has them beat by having all that & an MPG rating that will save drivers a packet in fuel costs!
Even at the L1 size you can easily fit 1 or 2 Pallets in the back end & secure them in place using multiple lashing & hook points. The van is also powerfully mobile thanks to the 1.5-litre EcoBlue Diesel engine that returns stunning quoted mpgs of 58.9-68.9mpg (I found it closer to 45-52mpg on my test drive) & effortlessly interacts with the smooth and efficient 6-speed gearbox.
I just can't fault the Transit Connect - it's the benchmark for small vans looking to be a simple sell to operators looking for the experience of driving a van. It's the whole package and the UK's best-selling small van this year for that reason!
Ford Transit Connect Price Comparison
If you're tempted by the Ford Transit Connect (and I don't blame you), you might be wondering how to get behind the wheel of one. Well, you could buy a used one outright… or you could save £8000 by leasing a brand new van instead. Check out the costings below:
Buying used (equivalent spec, 11,000 miles on the clock):
Buy Outright: £15,594.
Or, personal loan repayments (representative APR of 27.4%): 60 monthly payments of £327.
Leasing brand new:
Finance Lease: £1980 initial rental + 59 monthly rentals at £165 per month.