Ford Transit Connect X-press: Minivan With Sports Car Abilities

By: Jenny Mclane

The automotive industry has always been full of innovations and improvements. Year after year, car manufacturers constantly come up with new developments. This competitiveness has given birth to some of the most notable vehicles in history. While not all vehicles have what it takes to take the world of auto industry by storm, some vehicles are just made to do just that.

Recently, Ford's Connect X-Press has done that. The X-Press is a Europe-only vehicle developed by the Ford Motor Company. It is a minivan but it has been said to have the abilities one can usually find in a sports car. Some auto enthusiasts have even compared the newcomer to the Supervan model that is equipped with a Cosworth engine.

The minivan shares the same powertrain of the class-leading Ford Focus RS. With the same drive train, the minivan can reach speed of sixty miles per hour from a standstill in less than seven seconds. The X-Press is 70 mm. lower than the standard Connect minivan. Additional sports car-like attributes are the 18" OZ alloy wheels that the X-Press is equipped with. Exhaust of the powerful minivan is as little as its cousin, the Ford Focus. That means that the X-Press, for all its power, will have no trouble meeting the strict emission standard enforced by the European Union. Another race car-like attribute that the X-Press exhibits is the integrated roll cage which can be found inside the vehicle.

"Transit Connect is such a strong and dynamically capable vehicle to begin with, that we knew this project would be feasible from the outset," says Ford of Europe's Chief Engineer for Commercial Vehicles, Barry Gale. "Certain drivetrain and suspension components are common with the first generation Ford Focus, so the transformation was relatively straightforward from an engineering point of view. We now have a unique commercial vehicle that performs like no other. If pushed, it is capable of a 0-60mph time in less than 7 seconds and a 130mph top speed. As you might expect from a Ford, it handles, steers and stops like a sports car," Gale added.

The Ford X-Press' powerplant is a 215PS 2.0-liter turbocharged and intercooled 16-valve Duratec RS engine and that is the same unit as that used by the Ford Focus RS. The development of the X-Press is an effort to show the capability of the base car, the Ford Transit. After all, not all minivans can be equipped with that powerful engine and still provide safe operation. The power from the engine is transferred to the front wheels of the vehicle through a five-speed transmission.

Stopping that power, of course, needs the same used on the Ford Focus RS vehicle. The X-Press is equipped with Brembo 325 mm ventilated disc brakes and slightly smaller 280 mm Brembo disc brakes on the rear.

Ford Europe's sentiment on the development of the X-Press is expressed by Gale saying: "It wasn't difficult really. Once everyone understood what we were doing they all offered to help in their spare time to make special parts or work on the vehicle. It became a true labor of love and as we're basically all car nuts, we're very pleased with the end product."

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