Ford Transit Custom

31 Aug, 2012 6:30pm Richard Ingram

The evergreen Ford Transit is more car-like yet more practical than ever before, voted Best Van of 2013 at the Auto Express awards


The Transit is now better than ever, and it’s a worthy new addition to a line-up that has enjoyed more than two million sales in the UK since 1965. A more car-like driving experience added to decent performance and economy make it a truly relaxing choice – and that’s judging it against many traditional cars. The new Transit Custom is let down only by poor visibility and slightly awkward pedals, but looks certain to continue Ford’s commercial vehicle success.

Ford says the new Transit is the most important new model it will build in the next two years. That includes the forthcoming Mondeo and facelifted Fiesta, and shows just how serious the manufacturer is about its big-selling van.

The Transit will be sold virtually unchanged across the globe, with three variations of the tried-and-tested 2.2-litre TDCi diesel used in the outgoing model. That means 99bhp, 153bhp and the 123bhp version we drive here.

Thanks to eco tweaks such as stop-start, our short-wheelbase Transit Custom is around eight per cent more efficient than the van it replaces. So it returns class-leading 42.8mpg economy and emits 178g/km of CO2.

The impressive numbers continue into the load bay, too, with Ford claiming a maximum capacity of 5,520 litres. That’s 330 litres more than in the old SWB Transit. Plus, a clever hatch beneath the passenger seat means extra length to carry long, narrow objects.

Behind the wheel, you could almost think you’re in a Focus. The dash is near-identical, with a logical layout and solid-feeling buttons. However, this is still a van, and some of the plastics used don’t meet the usual high standards of Ford’s passenger models. There’s a commanding view out, but large A-pillars can make junctions a little tricky.

The TDCi is refined, and motorway driving is a breeze thanks to a generous 350Nm of torque. (There were no 99bhp models available during our test, but we suspect it’d feel slow.)

Despite its boxy shape, the Transit is remarkably quiet on the move. It can catch crosswinds, but the direct and well weighted steering means it feels safe. It’s not all good news, though: the high-mounted pedals quickly became an annoyance – especially considering there’s nowhere to rest your left foot.

The all-new Transit is more car-like to drive than ever, but with all practical aspects of a van improved in every way. Our top-spec Limited costs £21,245, which makes it slightly more expensive than nearly all its rivals.

But you’ll be willing to pay a premium if you’re looking for the best – and, judging from our drive, the Transit is certainly that.

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I see the Transit now has larger headlights. What is it with transport designers that makes them add blobby, oversized poached eggs to the front of so many vehicles?

When does this go on sale in the U.S? From what I see Ford has another hit on its hands.

That would be right.... Auto Express don't publish the comment because they don't like hearing the truth

The A pillar issue is potentially serious and a little surprising given the amount of research & testing done these days.
The pedals, well that doesn't sound good either, but you do need to bear in mind that many of these vans will be driven by people wearing safety footwear/rigger boots/wellies etc. Have you tried to do that in a car? The vehicle is not intended to be a car, but to be as car like one as possible whilst still being a heavy duty commercial vehicle. It will certainly sell - Ford rarely get it wrong these days (except for the A pillar possibly).
Horses for courses.......... !

Once again Auto Express wets itself over another New Ford... This despite its serious flaws.... a magazine should not be slowed to write reviews for a company it has shares in... that's only opinion but it does seem that from my point of view Auto Express is in bed with Ford as it seems Ford cannot and do not do anything wrong.....people don't listen to them they claim the Mondeo is such a fantastic car it ain't, I know I brought one on Auto Express recommendation was a big mistake... its fidgety over bumps steering over light quality ain't that good.... the same can be said for most other Fords.... don't believe me? take one for extended test drive... you'll see for yourselves what I am talking about...

This does not replace the Transit van, the Custom van will be sold along side the Transit van. So van range will go. Fiesta,connect,custom then transit....simples

Darren Fitch have had 4 Mondeos none of your comments are remotely true think you have some Ford anger issues !

Having spent 10 days and almost 1000 miles driving a double cab version recently I disagree with both your issues, I did not find the A pillars hampering visibility nor did I find the pedals too high either, in fact I enjoyed the van so much I've since ordered a double cab version myself, 10 out of 10 for the vehicle

Key specs

  • Price: £21,245
  • Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 123bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 13 seconds
  • Top speed: 98mph
  • Economy: 42.8mpg
  • CO2: 178g/km
  • Equipment: Stop-start, air-con, parking sensors
  • On sale: November