Ford Transit tops chilling challenge


Ford has taken double top in a novel shootout that subjects vans to truly chilling conditions.

Both the new Transit and Transit Connect won their classes in the Arctic Van Test, described as one of the most gruelling tests of vehicle performance on the planet.

The punishing five-day competition subjects vehicles and drivers to extreme challenges in ice, cold and snow, in the frozen north of Finland – where temperatures can drop as low as minus 50 C.

The challenges forming the contest ranged from slaloming across a frozen airfield, to tackling a torturous 700 kilometre route of icy, rutted roads. In each test the vans were marked across categories that included fuel efficiency, load carrying, and handling.

The vehicles also had to prove their engines would start, and heating and demister systems operated properly, after they had been left outside overnight in sub-freezing conditions.

Entrants in the event, alongside the Fords, included vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, Citroen and Renault. They were driven by expert drivers from six European commercial vehicle magazines.


The all-new Ford Transit was rated top or joint-top in nine out of 13 categories while the smaller Transit Connect took top or joint-top in seven categories, and according to the judges particularly impressed for its handling and stability in icy conditions. The result was Ford’s first double win in the event’s 23-year history.

“The Ford vans were clear winners in very slippery conditions – a great advantage when frozen roads can be found anywhere, and not just found on the test track,” says Heikki Laurell of Auto Tekniikka ja Kuljetus magazine in Finland, which organises the annual event. “Our tests push vans to the limit, and can be quite a shock if you are not used to a Scandinavian winter.”

According to Ford Europe’s global commercial vehicles line director, Paul Randle, the result is not a surprise, as every Transit is tested in the world’s toughest climates and driving conditions long before launch.

“They are prepared for just this kind of challenge – our customers depend on their Transits to get the job done, and we have made sure they are ready for work, whatever the weather,” Randle says.

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Van Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars and vans for more than 20 years, and attends many new model launches each year.

Latest articles