When Ford launched the Transit Connect small commercial van as a 2010 model, it was a new kind of vehicle.
Its closest counterpart was the Chevy Astro van, discontinued in 2005. And by 2010, the Transit Connect had been in production for almost a decade in Europe and elsewhere.
Now there's an all-new Transit Connect coming to North America for 2014, built on the same global "C-segment" architecture that's already used for the Ford Focus compact sedan and hatchback, the Ford Escape crossover, the C-Max Hybrid small minivan, and other vehicles to come.
The new 2014 Ford Transit Connect is being officially unveiled at a commercial vehicle show in Hanover, Germany.
In Europe, it will come with a range of gasoline and diesel powertrains, including the 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost gasoline engine, the 1.6-liter EcoBoost four that's offered in the 2013 Escape, and a 1.6-liter turbodiesel.
For North America, Ford says the all-new Transit Connect will offer the 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four, which develops 178 horsepower in the Escape, and a 2.5-liter four that's likely similar to the base 168-hp engine also offered in the Escape.
Both engines will be fitted only with six-speed automatic transmissions, and the 2014 Ford Transit Connect will be front-wheel drive only.
Despite the desires of some fleet managers, Ford is unlikely to offer the small diesel in U.S.-market Transit Connects.
The European model will be offered with two wheelbases, but if the last model is anything to go by, North American buyers will only get the longer of the two.
Dimensions for that model--with a 121-inch wheelbase--are 190 in long and 73 in high, with 127 cubic feet of load space.
In styling, the new Transit Connect is clearly a more modern vehicle than its predecessor.
Ford notes that design features include a "signature trapezoidal grille and slim, technical headlamps at the front."
The company waxes poetic for a van in lauding its "powerful rising shoulder line" along with vertical tail lamps mounted halfway up the rear corners, which reduce the cost of minor accident repairs.
The bulkhead behind the seats has a load-through hatch, and the front passenger seat folds flat to allow the full cabin length to be used for long loads.
A front passenger seat with two places, allowing three people to travel in the new model, is an option in Europe.
The new Transit Connect also adds Load Adaptive Control as part of its electronic stability system, so that the stability-control software takes into account the vehicle's load state and adjusts the suspension response accordingly--ensuring that it remains stable under all load conditions, from empty to full.
Features on the European version of the 2014 Ford Transit Connect include the SYNC voice-activated infotainment and connectivity system, and Active City Stop, which automatically brakes the vehicle at low speeds if it senses it is about to hit something directly ahead.
The company will build European models of its new small van in Valencia, Spain, but it has not recently confirmed that it will add the 2014 Transit Connect to its Escape production line in Louisville, Kentucky.
The current Transit Connect is imported from Turkey.
Thus far, Ford has said nothing about any potential plug-in electric version of the new Transit Connect. Azure Dynamics, which converted a few hundred of the current model to all-electric power, filed for bankruptcy in March, and nothing further has been heard about the 2011 Transit Connect Electric.
Ford says the new 2014 Transit Connect van will go on sale in North America by the fourth quarter of 2013.