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New Ford Transit Custom Nugget 2022 review

Has Ford struck gold with its Transit Custom Nugget campervan? We hit the road to find out…

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

There’s no denying that the Transit Nugget looks expensive, at a smidgen under £80,000. But this is where a lot of camper buyers are shopping right now, and Ford’s offering does bring some novel features to the table, in a better-driving package than all of its rivals. Its layout offers solid practicality and usability, so the Nugget certainly feels worthy of consideration if you’re lining up a camper purchase for 2023.

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Major car companies with commercial-vehicle operations have been present in the campervan market for decades.

The leader of the pack remains the Volkswagen California, of course, but Mercedes continues to sell the Marco Polo. Ford is now offering an official entry too, though, in the shape of the Transit Nugget.

A joint development between Ford and motorhome conversion specialist Westfalia (the company already responsible for the Mercedes), the Nugget is offered with a choice of turbodiesel engines. Our test van gets a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit with 168bhp and 390Nm of torque, linked to a six-speed automatic gearbox. Or you can have a 129bhp version with 360Nm of torque and a manual transmission.

There are two body configurations, too. Ours is the regular vehicle, while there’s a longer layout that uses a chunk of extra rear overhang to house a basic toilet, in case you want to rival a full-sized camper’s ability to go ‘off grid’, or if you’d like just a little extra in the way of self-sufficiency at the campsite.

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On the road, the good news is that the values that continue to make the Transit a stand-out offering in the van market are just as relevant here. The more powerful engine packs enough punch for when you’re fully loaded with people and kit, while the gearbox works pretty smoothly alongside it, delivering sensible shifts at the right time.

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Ford’s trademark direct steering is present and correct here, too, and considering the amount of weight on board, the Nugget resists body roll remarkably well. You’re a long way from anything we’d describe as involvement here, but there’s still greater relaxation to be found in threading a Nugget along country roads than you’ll find in any of its key rivals. It’s reasonably happy on motorways, too, with the bluff front end creating lots of wind noise, but the engine dropping down to a background rumble.

In camping terms, the big difference between the Nugget and the usual suspects in the class is the layout. Unlike the Marco Polo and California, whose kitchens are positioned along the side of the living space, the Transit Nugget has a central seating area and then a hob-and-sink unit positioned laterally towards the rear of the cabin.

It’s an interesting solution, not least because it allows you to open both of the sliding doors, improving access and making it easier to offer al-fresco dining. You can also have a family seated around the table and, thanks to the front-hinged pop-up roof, stand and cook at the kitchen for them – instead of having to ask someone to move aside to grant you access to the frying pan when you’re rustling up a meal.

The cooking area itself includes a couple of gas hob rings, a space for food prep and a decent-sized fridge that’s deep enough for large containers of milk. There are useful cupboards at either side of the rear cabin too – and if you lift the rear hatch, you can use a socket on one of these to hook up to the water supply and create a shower.

There are two double beds for overnight accommodation; remove the central table and the main seat folds flat, while the manually operated roof section contains a bed that can be accessed via a neatly stored stepladder and a well placed foot on the kitchen counter. Compromises, then, but ones that will hardly be alien to seasoned users of compact campervans. But at £78,117, the Nugget is also in the league of more versatile motorhome rivals.

Model:Ford Transit Custom Nugget
Price:£78,117
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
Power/torque:168bhp/390Nm
Transmission:Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive 
0-62mph:N/A
Top speed:N/A
Economy/CO2:32.9mpg/226g/km
On sale:Now
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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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