Ford's Transit Courier is crowned What Van? Van of the Year
16 December 2014
Author: James Dallas
BusinessCar's sister title honours the great and the good of the light commercial vehicle industry at a prestigious event in central London. James Dallas reports
Ford, the dominant player in the LCV sector, once more captured the big prize at the prestigious What Van? Awards ceremony held on 16 December at the five-star Andaz hotel on Liverpool Street in London.
BusinessCar's sister title bestowed the coveted Van of the Year award on the Ford Transit Courier. The city van is the final piece in the jigsaw for the Blue Oval brand, which has transformed its product portfolio in the past two years. All of the new models have raised the bar in their respective sectors, but the Courier sees the brand enter an area it has not competed in before, slotting into the line-up between the car-derived Fiesta Van and the Transit Connect light van.
The Courier follows the Transit Custom onto the podium, as the medium-sized van collected the Van of the Year award in 2013 and 2014, becoming the first model to take the top prize in consecutive years.
Not surprisingly, the Courier came out on top in the Small Van category and What Van? said: "The Courier has breathed new life into the segment, offering a combination of practicality, quality, efficiency and style not before offered."
The Courier is a stylish, high-quality and eminently competent compact van that will provide stiff competition to the jointly developed Citroen Nemo, Fiat Fiorino and Peugeot Bipper small cubed vans launched in 2007.
Ford has targeted the Courier at downsizers in a market where customers are ever more conscious of their volume and payload needs.
The Courier makes efficient use of its small dimensions. It offers 2.4m3 of load area and a 660kg payload as well as a wider range of engines than its rivals, with 75hp 1.5 and 95hp 1.6 diesels up for grabs alongside the 100hp 1.0-litre petrol Ecoboost unit that should find favour with urban operators.
Overall, Ford performed strongly at the awards with the Transit Connect winning the Light Van of the Year Award, the Ranger retaining the Pick-up category, and the Fiesta Van claiming Highly Commended in the Small Van category behind the Transit Courier.
Other notable winners were the new Renault Trafic and its Vauxhall-badged sibling the Vivaro, which shared the Medium Van Award, pushing last year's Van of the Year the Transit Custom off its perch. The Trafic and Vivaro also play host to the Wide View Mirror that won the Innovation Award. Housed in the passenger sun visor, it dramatically improves the driver's view on the rear nearside, eliminating the blind spot caused by a full bulkhead.
The new Iveco Daily, which has added a large dose of refinement to its legendary durability, reclaimed the Large Van Award from the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which had to settle for the Highly Commended berth this time.
The Green Award went to Nissan's e-NV200, which is helping to dispel operators' misgivings by proving the real-world practicality of plug-in vans, and the tiny electric Renault Twizy took the Editor's Choice prize. Sticking to an eco theme, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV secured the 4x4 van gong, with the Sprinter 4x4 once more the bridesmaid.
The Sprinter played second fiddle yet again in the Used Van category, finishing behind VW's Transporter.
Citroen was adjudged to offer LCV operators the most comprehensive online service, taking the Best Website Award, with Fiat Professional in the runner-up spot.
What Van? opened the doors to its Hall of Fame for the second time this year and ushered in two new members well deserving of recognition: Bob Sockl, who steered the CV Show out of the woods when it almost dropped off the calendar for good in 2009, and the legendary VW Transporter, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary having arrived in the UK in 1954.
What Van? introduced a readers' award in 2015 to recognise the outstanding service suppliers in the marketplace: Tevo was the recipient of the first Convertors Award, with CPD Bodies being Highly Commended.
The full roll of honour is below.