Transit Customs Coming Home.
Ford has a problem. How do you make a great commercial vehicle better ? The case in point is the Ford Transit Custom, newly refurbished for 2018. When it arrived in 2012, it gave the van sector a real shot in the arm. This was a van with a payload of 1 tonne, launched to sit underneath the larger Transit which has actually outsold it’s larger sibling. First Ford added an EcoBlue diesel engine in 2016 & then at the end of 2017, came a refresh.
This update saw a front end that copied the look of the Ford Fiesta, Kuga & Focus to give the van a more upmarket look & to highlight the car-like interior to be found inside. Transit Custom payload & dimensions remain unchanged. There are L1 & L2 wheelbases, offered with standard H1 & H2 raised roof heights. There’s a standard three-seat van, plus a five-seat double cab, also available in L1 & L2 lengths. And, a mini-bus variant, the Tourneo Custom.
The L1 model offers 6.0 cubic metres of load volume, the larger LWB 6.8 cubic metres. There are also H1 & H2 standard & high-roof variants available in both body lengths, with the largest model offering 8.3 cubic metres of load space. Quiet, safer & warmer cabs can be guaranteed as there is a full-width steel bulkhead standard on all models, even in the double-cab.The bulkhead has a load-through facility for longer items to slide under the front passenger seat, so wood, guttering or pipes up to 3m long can be carried in both short & long versions. All models feature a rubber floor liner, with tie down rings in the floor & lower wall. You can also squeeze three Euro pallets in Short models.
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 items to slide under the front passenger seat, so materials up to 3m long can be carried in the shorter versions of the Transit Custom.
It’s not stretching the point to say that the interior of the Custom Sport is just like that of the Ford Focus, or other Ford models. There’s a reassuringly familiar dash board with Fords DAB radio & latest tablet touchscreen, Ford SYNC offering Emergency Assist & Bluetooth audio streaming, 2 X dashboard USB connectivity, steering wheel remote audio controls & four front speakers. Connecting my mobile was simple & those clever people at Ford have added two dashboard cup spaces, the one to the right of the steering wheel being perfectly located to put your phone in.
Spec is generous, with Sport featuring front & rear parking sensors, air con, a height & reach adjustable steering column, cruise control with adjustable speed limiter, a trip computer, heated driver & passenger seats, lift dual passenger seat cushion with under seat storage as well as storage compartments, two 2 litre bottle holders, centre dash cup holder, four top of the dash storage spaces & two 12v power points.
The steering wheel controls allow you to access the infotainment, Bluetooth handsfree & SatNav & the latest technology also offers MirrorLink, so I utilised Apple CarPlay. The new touchscreen is a nice touch, allowing the choice of screen or steering wheel to choose your function.
The cab itself is spacious & comfortable, with excellent seating. For example, the drivers seat has 8 way adjustment & the centre front seat of three offers the occupant decent leg room. There’s a plethora of safety features such as ESP, Roll over mitigation, Load Adaptive Control, Hill Start Assist & driver & passenger air bags. On the options list you can add a Lane Keeping Alert system & Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection.
The Custom Short is small enough to be nimble in town. Supermarket parking spots are easily accessible & the six-speed manual gear box is very easy to use, with the built in StopStart working well on the clutch. If you need to drive a distance, then the Custom does that with aplomb as well. Motorway miles are eaten up especially with the 168bhp engine under your right foot, which offers 405Nm’s of torque.. Our combined economy was in the mid-thirties at 36.7mpg & I did drive to Leeds & back to bring my daughter & a van full of stuff back from University for the last time, so I wasn’t always on my own in the van.
The driving position provides good visibility, with the bonus especially on the motorway of having excellent mirrors that have secondary blind spot lenses fitted with a wide angle of view, so you can get a clear look at what’s coming up beside.
What more can I say about the Transit Custom ? With it’s go-faster bonnet stripe, I really liked it. It might be a bit on the expensive side with my test model costing £31,255.83 + vat, but when your van is your business & also in some cases your office, this is a small price to pay for being able to stay legally in touch with your customers, refreshed after a comfortable journey & safe in the knowledge that it drives ‘ just like a car. ‘
What Gareth Southgate has done for England in 2018, the Transit Custom is doing for vans. 4.5/5
Body style Height Width Length
Short van 2,020mm 1,986mm 4,972mm
Long van 2,020mm 1,986mm 5,339mm
Short double-cab-in-van 2,020mm 1,986mm 4,972mm
Long double-cab-in-van 2,020mm 1,986mm 5,339mm
(Width is body without side mirrors, overall width including mirrors is 2,290mm)
Load area dimensions
Body style Height Width Length Volume
Short van 1,406mm 1,775mm 2,555mm 5.95m3
Long van 1,406mm 1,775mm 2,922mm 6.83m3
Short double-cab-in-van 1,406mm 1,775mm 1,577mm 3.47m3
Long double-cab-in-van 1,406mm 1,775mm 1,944mm 4.35m3
(Widths are maximum, width between wheel arches is 1,390mm)
Side door entry width 1030 mm
Side door load entry height 1340 mm
Rear door entry width 1400 mm
Rear door entry height 1340 mm