Ford Transit Custom Review & Buyers' Guide
Saturday 27 May 2017

Ford Transit Custom Review & Buyers' Guide

£17,495 – £24,945

Available as Van, Crew Van, Kombi | Engine options 2.2TD 100/125/155hp | Load Volume (m³) 6.0 – 6.8
Payload (kg) 600 – 1,400


Verdict

ford-transit-custom-2013-bg2-1aTransit Custom sets the standard by which all one-tonne panel vans are measured in terms of load carrying ability, on-the-road dynamics and refinement.

Is the new Transit Custom the best Transit that Ford has ever produced? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. In terms of ride, handling and indeed every aspect of its on-the-road performance it knocks spots off its predecessors and virtually all of its rivals too. No surprises then that it was voted VansA2Z's Van of the Year for 2013.

voty-2013-small-panel-votyBuild quality does not quite match the dizzying heights achieved by Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz. However it is not far off and Transit Custom is far better put together than any of its forebears. Custom only forms part of the new Transit line-up with the bigger, rather American-looking, two-tonne Transit due to appear in UK Ford dealerships during the first quarter of 2014. But it's a good start.

As things stand the front-wheel-drive Custom can be specified as a van, a Double Cab-in-Van, a Kombi or a Tourneo. One engine is available, a made-in-Dagenham 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel at 100hp, 125hp or 155hp, and married to a six-speed manual gearbox. There’s a choice of four trim levels; Base, Trend, Limited and Sport.

Load Area
ford-transit-custom-2013-bg2-2Transit Custom can be ordered in both short- and long-wheelbase guise and there’s the choice of either a standard or high roof in both cases. Load cubes range from 6.0m³ to 8.3m³ and gross payload capacities run from 683kg to 1,484kg. Even the SWB can accommodate three standard Euro-pallets and 8 x 4ft boards can be fitted in horizontally as well as vertically.


Symmetrically split side-hinged rear doors are standard and they have a trick up their sleeve. With a push of the substantial stay arms they can be locked at 90° to stop the wind blowing them open in tight loading areas and sustaining damage. Undo the stays and they can be opened to a full 180°. Load length can be extended by 530mm thanks to the optional availability of a 596 x 205mm floor-level, top-hinged hatch in the standard-fit solid steel bulkhead.

Safety
Ford SYNC with Emergency Assistance is standard on most models. It automatically summons help from the blue light brigade should you be involved in a smash serious enough to trigger an airbag. The package also allows most Bluetooth-enabled phones, USB drives and MP3 players to be operated with voice commands. Spookily, incoming text messages can be read out aloud. If a maximum number of radio stations is a priority, then opt for the Limited. A DAB radio forms part of the specification.


ford-transit-custom-2013-bg2-2aThe alphabet soup of safety systems Custom boasts should hopefully mean that things will never get to the stage where airbags start inflating. Included in the deal are ABS, load-adaptive ESP, Roll-Over Mitigation, Emergency Brake Assist, Emergency Brake Warning and Traction Control. Hill Start Assist prevents Custom from rolling backwards and connecting with the vehicle behind.

Custom's safety story does not end there, though. Other accident-prevention devices are available as options, including Driver Alert and Lane Keeping Alert. The former delivers a wake-up call if you seem to be dozing off at the wheel while the latter sounds the alarm if you appear to be wandering out of your lane on the motorway and into an adjacent one. Both devices are standard on short-wheelbase Sport Van, the model we suspect most VansA2Z visitors will aspire to own.

ECOnetic & Sport Van
ford-transit-custom-2013-sport2Under the bonnet there’s the 155hp diesel while Sport Van is distinguished externally by a full styling kit with body-coloured bumpers, mirror casings, side rubbing strips and door handles. It rides on 18in alloy wheels shod with low-profile 235/50R18 tyres and is of course graced by the signature twin bonnet stripes in a contrasting colour that have distinguished all previous Sport Vans. Turning to the cab, the interior is partially trimmed in leather and a DAB radio is included in the deal.


While the heart may say Sport Van, the head — and wallet — may conclude that the 100hp Transit Custom ECOnetic is a more sensible bet. Tuned for optimum fuel economy and low CO2 output — the former starts at a commendably low 46.3mpg according to official figures, the latter at an environmentally-friendly 162g/km, depending on model chosen — ECOnetic features Auto-Start-Stop as standard. It kills the engine automatically if the driver lazily allows it to idle in a traffic jam or at the lights, wasting diesel and polluting the atmosphere.

ford-transit-custom-2013-bg2-3aRestarting it is easy with a simple dip of the clutch and the package is said to offer fuel and CO2 emission savings of up to 10 per cent in urban driving. Other economy features include a switchable 70mph limiter, a coolant by-pass valve for quicker warm-up, optimised gearing with a six per cent longer final drive ratio, aerodynamic wheel trims and low-rolling-resistance tyres. Optional on ECOnetic are fixed speed-limiters that firmly restrict the vehicle's top speed to 56mph, 62mph or 70mph.

Fitted too is Acceleration Control, which restricts the rate of acceleration to the level achievable if the vehicle was fully laden. Ford reckons it can cut fuel usage by anywhere from four to 15 per cent. Acceleration Control is also likely to cut the number of accidents drivers have because it stops them from rocketing away from the traffic lights like lunatics. Tyre and component life should benefit too.

Behind the Wheel
ford-transit-custom-2013-bg2-3As well as an exemplary ride, pin-sharp feedback from the beautifully weighted steering and safe, predictable handling, Custom features a slick gearbox that permits pretty much seamless progress from one gear to the next. In-cab noise levels are commendably low, making for a very civilised working environment in conjunction with the supportive seats and excellent driving position; thanks in no small part to the combination of seat height and steering wheel rake/reach adjustment. The latter is a first on a Transit panel van. Storage space is more than ample and two power points are provided.


We believe that the 125hp model is in many respects the best bet, offering as it does just the right combination of strong acceleration from rest and impressive high-speed cruising performance. Opt for one in Trend trim and electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors are included in the deal, as are cruise control, rain-sensing wipers for the heated windscreen, as well as front and rear parking sensors.

Regardless of model, service intervals are recommended every two years/30,000 miles and Custom is covered by a three-year/100,000-mile warranty.

While one can mourn the end of van assembly at Ford's Southampton factory, we strongly doubt that it sounds the death knell of the Big Blue Oval's dominance of the UK van market. Given the high standard achieved by Transit Custom and the line-up of other new models gradually being rolled out, we reckon Ford will remain top dog for many years to come.

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Related Articles
Transit Custom high roof comes on-line
Versatile Custom Kombi is a flexible friend
Transit Custom scores five-star safety rating

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