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Road Test: Ford Transit Custom

There is more to Ford’s new Custom than new lights and a remodelled grille, says Dan Gilkes.

SECTOR Medium van   Load Volume 6.0m3-8.3m3    POWER 105-170bhp   Gross weight 2.6-3.4 tonnes   CO2 161-169g/km

Ford Transit Custom
Ford Transit Custom

Though outwardly very similar, there have been some big changes under the skin for Ford’s market-leading Transit Custom, particularly in the cab. The designers have been fairly restrained externally, with just new lights, a three-bar grille and revised bumpers the main pointers.

Inside the cab however there is much more of interest to drivers, with an all-new instrument panel, similar to that of the latest Fiesta car. There is a choice of 4.0-inch or 8.0-inch display screens or a MyFord Dock for smartphones or sat navs. Higher trim levels benefit from Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system with voice control and smartphone linking.

There is up to 25-litres of stowage space in the front of the van, with three open bins on the upper surface of the dash and a glove box capable of holding hanging A4 files. Specifications vary, with four trim levels of Base, Trend, Limited and Sport, providing plenty of choice for buyers.

The 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine powers all variants at present, offering 105bhp, 130bhp or a range-topping 170bhp. All models drive through a six-speed manual gearbox to the front wheels, though an increasingly popular six-speed automatic transmission is available as an option on the two more powerful engines. Later this year, there will also be an ECOnetic version, based on the 105bhp engine, delivering just 148g/km of CO2.

A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model, that uses a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine as a range extender, is currently under trial in London with a range of customers and should be available commercially later next year.

Ford continues to offer Custom in two wheelbases and with two roof heights, providing four body volumes of 6.0-8.3m3. In addition, there are two lengths of double-cab-in-van model, both with the lower roof height, offering 3.5-4.3m3 of loadspace behind the second row of seats. If you need more people carrying capability, you can also choose from 8-9 seat Kombi versions on both wheelbases and with both roof heights.

Custom is packed with technology below the bodywork too, or it can be if you tick the right boxes. Standard equipment includes Pre-collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and the van is Ford’s first to be offered with Blind Spot Information with Cross Traffic Alert, helping drivers to avoid collisions when reversing. You can also have Intelligent Speed Assist, with Traffic Sign Recognition, to help prevent drivers from exceeding speed limits.

On the road the van is very refined, with almost no noise from the engine when cruising. The SelectShift automatic transmission is smooth and responsive, but manual gearbox drivers shouldn’t feel hard done by, as the shift requires little effort.

Indeed, the latest Transit Custom is a pleasure to drive and well deserving of our Van of the Year award. It ticks an awful lot of boxes for a wide range of customers and it’s little wonder that it remains one of Europe’s best sellers.

 

What we think

Don’t be fooled by the relatively conservative facelift, there is plenty to get excited about with the latest Ford Transit Custom.

 

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Written by Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.

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