A few years ago, a 95PS ‘hot hatch’ would have been highly desirable but with insurance premiums escalating, enthusiasm for them has cooled. Enter the modern Fiesta Sport Van, which comes with not just 2E insurance premium but a very good powertrain, handling and braking package, and lacks nothing in looks or equipment.
When you think how some owners blacken or tint their rear windows, the Fiesta Sport Van is a hot hatch in all but name and insurance. It even has a rear ‘wing’ over the tailgate.
Fiesta vans were always a mainstay of businesses and the arrival of the new model with a 500KG payload and cubic-metre volume has turned it into a much more practical proposition for more users.
There are seven models in the new Fiesta van series based around 60K 1.25 litre petrol and 55kw 1.5 or 70kw 1.6 diesels in base, trend or sport specifications from about £11,200 to £13,700 plus VAT and delivery charges. The new 1.6TDCi tested has very low exhaust emissions and despite its useful, lively and flowing performance through the gears and when cruising the motorway it returned a good 55mpg overall.
It was fairly brisk from standstill and had up to 200Nm underfoot when accelerating for overtaking with a load aboard and it could comfortably cover the motorway miles at the legal limit which was about 40mph below its maximum so there is a lot in reserve.
Access to the back is very good with a high opening tail door and a very low lip to the sill giving a wide space to slip in some big boxes behind the wire guard and the twin front seats. Driver and passenger could also get in and out easily and once inside the room was good with reasonable amount of seat movement and they were nicely shaped and supporting as well as cloth covered.
In the cabin a driver will find plenty of spaces of the usual odds and ends and the view to the front, sides and back is good, helped by good lights and wipers and standard air conditioning kept the glass clear and the interior comfortable.
Everything comes to hand and eye very well, the throttle, brake and clutch pedals are smooth and effortless, the five-speed gearchange is very precise and the electric powered steering has a reasonable degree of feedback.
The Sport pack comes with sharpened steering, tauter chassis and high performance wheels and tyres which will delight on twisting roads while the brakes are well up to their task and the whole package inspired confidence.
I was, however, surprised that the Sport Van did not include the availability of satnav., which many regard as essential on a commercial vehicle and would improve its appeal to occasional drivers as well and rear parking sensors are a £250 extra on a van which looks so good you would want to protect it from scratches. It does have a very good entertainment system with excellent output and quality and it works with Bluetooth as well.
Really it’s a van in design only as under the metal skin it behaves like a good, well sorted agile and economical hatchback, and it must be one of the best kept secrets of the showrooms.
MILESTONES: Ford Fiesta Sport Van 1.6 TDCi. Price: £13,670 (plus £2,734 VAT and £476 delivery) Mechanical: 95PS, 4cylinder, 1600cc TD, 5speed. Max speed: 113mph. 0-62mph: 12.9 seconds.
Combined mpg: 78.5mpg (55mpg on test) CO2 emissions: 95gkm. Insurance group: 2E. Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles. Robin Roberts Miles Better News Agency