Published on Tuesday 31 March 2020 in Van News
Vans come in all shapes & sizes, from gargantuan large vans like Citroen Relays & Ford Transits, right down to smaller ones like the VW Caddy, the Toyota Proace City & the Ford Transit Connect. Then there are vans like the Ford Fiesta Sport Van which can only be described as... compact. Our van expert Tom Roberts gives it a Vanarama Road Test.
I'll be honest, I'd usually start this review by comparing the front end of a van to a car, but this actually IS a car at the front… it's the Ford Fiesta. Ever since there have been Ford Fiesta cars, there have been Ford Fiesta Vans, but they only appeared in the European market around 6 or 7 years ago. They were available for a few years & then disappeared, but now they're back by popular demand.
Exterior & Style
So let's take a look at the engine… under the bonnet is a 1-litre petrol EcoBoost engine & it's very powerful returning around 125ps. To put that into context, the Ford Transit Custom's 2-litre diesel eco blue engine outputs 130. So, you have a lot of power at your disposal & it returns incredible miles per gallon - quoted as 56mpg in the brochures.
The front end has a honeycomb grill which is unique to the Fiesta Sport Van. It looks great with a big splitter, lines up the bonnet & swept headlights that curl round onto the top of the wheel arches. The 18-inch alloy wheels are also some of the nicest I've ever seen on a van, & equally as pretty are the great lines that cut back & forth down the side of the doors. The body-coloured wing mirrors with integrated indicators & quick-clear windscreen complete the package at the front end.
On the side, a panel van wouldn't be a panel van without paneled windows at the back. Again, it all looks quite familiar, but there are some key differences between this & the standard Ford Fiesta, not least of which is a great big spoiler that runs along the top & a lovely sporty diffuser that runs all the way along the bottom.
Loadspace & Storage
Now, let's take a look at the one place that this vehicle really differentiates itself from the standard Fiesta - the loading bay. It's not as big as you'd expect to find in a normal van, but then, it is in the back of a Fiesta! However, it's surprisingly large for a vehicle in the small van category & it's been nicely rubberised with matting & lashing points in all 4 corners.
The opening is 1m wide & 60cm high, & the length of the loading bay is 1.2 metres all the way to the bulkhead. It thins just narrowly to around a metre as it goes up to the mesh bulkhead, & at its widest point, it's 1.3m. So, it's actually got a really good little loading bay, capable of carrying 500kg - that's half a ton of weight in a Fiesta & they haven't even had to reinforce the back axle to do that!
Interior & Cabin
The Fiesta Sport Van is a lot lower to the ground than any van I've sat in - go figure! There's stainless steel on the pedals, which is echoed on the top of the gear stick & the handbrake, plus some very nice red stitching all over. Sporty seats are also a plus here, you've got a passenger seat & a driver seat that both have this kind of checkerboard esque design on the bottom. You feel comfortable & hugged inside the vehicle, & when you're driving you benefit from being pushed up slightly by the sport seats. It's a very nice driving position that allows you to see out through the windscreen even though you're quite low to the ground.
This vehicle's engine is keyless, so just stash your keys, put your foot on the clutch & press the button to get going. It's all very nicely leather lined, including the steering wheel, which has perforated leather where you'd be gripping it, smooth leather at the top & a flat bottom so it doesn't smash your knees when you're taking a particularly tight corner. It's also got 2 sets of controls - on the right there's the standard menu buttons just above your phone controls & voice control for Ford's Sync 3 system. On the left hand side there's a speed restrictor & cruise control settings, volume controls & a mute button - so everything is at your fingertips.
The dashboard display is nice & clear. On the left hand side there's a rev counter & on the right is the speedometer. Between those is the oil temperature gauge & the fuel gauge & then above those is a very big full-colour driver information display which displays all the information you'd expect including your fuel consumption, a digital speedo, your lane assist, music sources & what's going on on your device. Speaking of devices, you can hook up all sorts of them, including your phone, through Apple carplay, Android auto or you can use one of the two USB sockets to plug it straight in.
This big screen is being put into all of Ford's commercial vehicles; it comes from the cars so it's no surprise to see it in the Ford Fiesta Sport. There are also two cup holders with nice spring toggles inside that hold the cups in place & are rubberised at the bottom l which means that nothing is going to slip around.
Driving Experience & On The Road
When driving the Fiesta Sport Van, even though you're low to the ground, everything feels very nice & smooth. The 1-litre engine is doing an amazing job of keeping me powerfully stuck to the road & the longer I drive it, the more I cannot believe how well the little 1-litre petrol engine is doing. The power coming out of it is incredible & when I finally get it onto a nice, long, straight country road & really open it up, it's such good fun to drive.
Personally I don't understand people who drive automatic petrol vehicles - when you've got a powerful petrol engine you want to be able to tell the vehicle where that power should go. So the Fiesta's 6-speed manual gearbox is absolutely brilliant & now it's in a commercial vehicle it's even better. You always feel like it's just aching for you to take it up a notch & show you how much power it still has at its disposal.
The only issue some may come across when driving the Ford Fiesta Sport Van is the missing visibility usually offered by the usual back windows in a car. Reversing out of parking spaces has been a little bit of an issue as there's no sensors on the front or the back. But the lack of visibility is a small price to pay to sit in a vehicle like this.
I don't tend to get too excited about driving a car, because vans & pickup trucks are cooler, but knowing I've got paneled outback windows & a big bulkhead with a mesh above me, makes me feel like this is something I can get excited about.
I've enjoyed driving this little van & I'm pretty sure if I was racing this against an even bigger van I would be leaving it in the dust. Driving a commercial vehicle around you don't usually get sporty affectations, but the standard trim level for the Fiesta Sport Van IS sport. Not only does it have all the sport styling & trim on the inside, under the hood the suspension has been sport-tuned as well. You can throw it around corners & know those wheels aren't going to be bouncing up & down all over the place. Well done Ford!
The Ford Fiesta Sport Van In Conclusion
The Ford Fiesta Sport Van is not going to be perfect for every trade - for builders, plumbers or carpenters carrying incredibly heavy or bulky loads, it just won't suit. But if you're a florist, an electrician, a dog walker, or someone who's just looking to carry something very small but very heavy (don't forget this thing can carry half a ton) it could be absolutely perfect. If you're one of those people looking for a van & a car at the same time, well, I think you've just found your vehicle!