Ford Transit Custom
With Transit Custom Ford has taken a market-leading van at the top of its game. It's our 2013 Van of the Year.
The Ford Transit Custom is a mid-sized van, which comes as a result of Ford separating its 1-tonne and 2-tonne Transit models. So in the same way that Volkswagen has the Transporter and the Crafter vans, or Mercedes has the Vito and the Sprinter, the Custom only goes up to just under 1.5 tonnes of payload, and there will be a completely different Transit model for weights above that. There are short (SWB) and long-wheelbase (LWB) Transit Customs, all driving through the front wheels, with a choice of three horsepower ratings from Ford’s 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engine. Whichever engine you choose, all achieve good MPG compared with the competition. There are also double-cab-in-van models, with a second row of seats behind the driver and a solid bulkhead, as well as full Kombi minibus versions that carry up to nine people. If you are after more luxury, the Tourneo Custom is a nine-seat people carrier, but those drivers looking for a tipper will have to look at the larger Transit while if you need something with more compact dimensions, there's the Ford Transit Connect. With the Ford Transit Custom there are five trim levels available – base, Trend, Limited and Sport. The Transit Custom was the first van to be awarded a maximum 5-star safety rating by Euro NCAP. To cap its achievements, the Ford Transit Custom is the Auto Express Van of the Year, the first winner of the award. Auto Express praised its safety credentials, including Ford's SYNC with emergency assistance, which helps occupants phone the emergency services in one of 26 languages. The judges also said the Transit is one of the best-driving vans, with good ride and handling.
MPG and Running Costs
The Transit Custom comes with Ford's 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engine available with 100bhp, 125bhp and 155bhp, and a six-speed manual gearbox. All models are front-wheel drive and deliver a claimed fuel consumption figure of between 39-42mpg, with emission levels of 178-189g/km of CO2. That compares well with the VW Transporter, offering 32-44mpg and CO2 emissions of 166-240g/km. As with the Volkswagen Transporter BlueMotion models, Ford customers can opt for dedicated ECOnetic Transit Custom vans in both SWB and LWB forms, or an ECOnetic Technology pack on most models in the range. The ECOnetic models use a specially calibrated 100bhp engine with auto start-stop, smart regenerative charging – where the alternator works harder when the van is braking or decelerating, using less engine power during acceleration – a gearshift indicator in the dash, a switchable speed limiter, a battery management system and aerodynamic wheel trims. The result is a claimed fuel consumption of up to 46.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 162g/km. Service intervals have been set at a market-leading two years or 30,000 miles and Transit Custom is covered by a three-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Load Space and Practicality
The Transit Custom is currently available in short and long-wheelbase and standard-roof variants, providing 5.9-6.8 cubic metres of load volume, similar to the Volkswagen Transporter but ahead of the Renault Trafic. They will be joined by a high-roof version of the LWB model, with 8.29 cubic metres of load space, early in 2014. A full-width steel bulkhead is standard on all models, even fitting behind the second row of seats in the double-cab-in-van models. This reduces noise in the cab and provides protection for the occupants against moving loads. The bulkhead has a load-through facility for longer loads to slide under the front passenger seat, allowing items up to 300cm (3m) long to be carried, even in the shorter versions of the van, compared with a maximum 280 cm in the longer version of the Vauxhall Vivaro. Short models can carry three Europallets and all Customs have an easy-clean load floor liner with tie-down rings in the floor and the lower walls. Ford offers an innovative integrated roof rack as a £350 option. Capable of carrying up to 350kg, the roof rack’s cross rails fold flat to the roof when not in use, to reduce drag and improve fuel economy. Extra-bright LED load area lighting is available for £80, providing improved visibility when working in the back of the van. Unlike the Mercedes Vito Dualiner, the second row of seats in the double-cab-in-van models cannot be folded or removed to extend the load bay, as there is a bulkhead behind them. However the nine-seat Custom Kombi has two rows of three seats that can all be folded and removed to create a full-length van, if that level of versatility is required. In the cab, the front passenger-seat cushions can be flipped up to reveal a hidden storage compartment that will easily accommodate a laptop or small toolbox, providing added security.
Reliability and Safety
The Transit Custom has been awarded a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and was the first commercial vehicle to receive a Euro NCAP Advanced reward in recognition of its optional lane keeping alert system, which vibrates the steering wheel if the van drifts across road markings without indicating. The van comes with ESP electronic stability programme, traction control and emergency brake assist, which increase the pressure on the brakes when the system senses an emergency-braking manoeuvre. The van’s indicators also flash automatically during heavy braking to warn other drivers. The Custom comes with rollover mitigation, designed to identify a potentially dangerous driving situation and activate the ESP to restore stability, and load adaptive control, which adjusts the ESP system to compensate for varying loads in the rear of the van. The van also has Driver Alert - a system that sounds an alarm if is senses the driver is losing concentration. It's too early to comment on reliability or Transit Custom problems, however, the engines and much of the driveline was carried over from the previous Transit, which has an impressive reputation for durability and reliability. The Transit Custom has remote control central door-locking as standard. For added security, the driver can open one individual door without automatically unlocking the others. The other doors stay securely locked, until you activate a switch on the driver’s door. In fact, you can use this switch to control the locking and unlocking of all the vehicle’s doors. Two different types of alarms are available as options.
Driving and Performance
The Transit Custom is a very comfortable van to drive. It's the first Transit to have an adjustable steering column – so the steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake. In combination with the eight-way adjustable driver’s seat, this should allow any size or shape of driver to get comfortable. The high riding position provides good visibility and the Custom comes with excellent mirrors that have secondary blind spot lenses fitted below. All three engine ratings deliver strong performance, though the 100bhp engine has to work hard when fully laden. The six-speed gearbox is smooth and easy to use, and the steering is light yet positive. There's no automatic or automated option as yet, though, unlike the Vito and Transporter. The Transit Custom is as good to drive as the Mercedes Vito and Volkswagen Transporter, though, and a class ahead of vans such as the Citroen Dispatch and Vauxhall Vivaro.
Cab and Interior
The previous generation Transit had one of the best cab interiors of any van, with a space for literally everything. The Transit Custom is close, but loses some of the practicality, though it retains plenty of storage cubbies and boxes. The Custom uses a similar centre console to Fiesta and Focus cars, with an audio control that resembles a mobile phone button pad. There are also plenty of buttons on the steering wheel, for audio, Bluetooth, cruise control and voice activation where fitted. The cab is comfortable and well equipped, with air-conditioning standard on Limited and Sport trims. Even Base models have an aux input, a trip computer, electric windows, two 12V charging points, passenger seat storage compartment, and courtesy headlight delay, allowing you to walk away in the dark before the lights turn off. The popular Trend specification adds front fog lights, heated electric mirrors, cruise control, a heated windscreen, auto lights and rain-sensing wipers, Ford’s SYNC audio streaming and voice control system and leather trim for the steering wheel and gear lever. The Limited trim level adds a DAB radio, heated front seats, air-conditioning and power fold doors, while the Sport Van gets a host of styling additions and part-leather interior.
(Width is body without side mirrors, overall width including mirrors is 2,290mm)
Load area dimensions
(Widths are maximum, width between wheel arches is 1,390mm)
- Power: 100bhp – 155bhp
- Weight (GVW): 2,500kg – 3,325kg
- Payload: 683kg – 1,484kgkg
- Loading height (approx, unladen) : 533mm - 589mm