FORD’S evergreen Transit has been with us for almost 50 years and it’s a model name unlikely to ever be dropped. If you remember the original van, you may also recollect the “Custom Cab” badge on the front wings. Interestingly, Ford has seen fit to bring back the Custom label on its all-new “small” Transit vans to signify its new place in the market.
Transit Customs are a recently introduced range of light vans that will appeal to retail buyers as much as fleets due to their style, civility and of course the usual trusty Transit virtues of durability and easy maintenance. The old Transit continues on sale until next year when it will be replaced by what Ford refers to as the “Two Tonne Transit” – a meaty looking, imposing van of the Mercedes Sprinter mould.
Transit spearheads a new line of commercials after admitting that it had taken its eye off the ball of late. And later this year there will be a new Transit Connect together with the return of the Courier name on a new small van to compete with Citroen’s Nemo and Peugeot’s Bipper.
No doubt about it, the super stylish Transit Custom certainly draws looks, which has to be good for your business image. If you want even more attention, then seek out the Sport models which put many style-conscious hot hatchbacks in the shade.
The cab is equally inviting, sharing many facets with the Focus and Mondeo cars, ensuring a brilliant driver environment that’s typically Transit. What’s more, its build quality feels good although some rivals do offer more useful features as standard.
Three trim levels are offered: Custom, Trend (boasting among other things, better headlights, parking sensors, cruise control, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and a washer fluid sensor), Limited (alloy wheels, heated seats, Thatcham Cat 1 Alarm, and air conditioning) and the dedicated Sport. Worthwhile options include parking sensors at £354, a power converter for 230 volts supply at only £36 and a clever integral roof rack that folds flat and costs £420.
There’s also a choice of wheelbases and double cab options but only one roof size. All come with six-speed gearboxes, tied to a 2.2-litre diesel in 100bhp, 125bhp and 155bhp tune, depending upon model.
We tried a basic Custom in emission and economy friendlier ECOnetic guise, which for many will be ideal. The handling and ride is exceptional and overall refinement beats many cars making the Custom a genuine pleasure to drive simply for the fun of it.
We’re not sure about the detuned 100bhp engine and feel that the 125bhp step up is better for heavier loads. By the same token, a brief drive in the 155bhp Sport was eye opening but there again so was the price of £28,000 – ten grand more than the base entry level Transit Custom which has most of what you need, including those great looks.
VAN Ford Transit Custom ECOnetic 290
SERVICE INTERVALS 30,000 miles/24 months
LOAD l: 1,775mm, w: (max) 2,555mm, h: 1406mm
MAX TOWING LIMIT 2,000kg
ECONOMY 42.2 mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS 178 g/km