Work­horse re­fines its role

While it feels more car-like to drive, the new Tran­sit is still as tough as ever, CHRIS RI­LEY writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

VALUE

DE­SIGN

OUR first full blown van in a while and, wow, haven’t they changed?

The Ford Tran­sit Cus­tom feels and drives more like a car than your av­er­age com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle. It’s good to see the gap nar­row­ing, par­tic­u­larly in terms of safety.

Built in Tur­key, prices start at $37,490 for the short wheel­base 290S and $39,490 for the long wheel­base 330L. Both are pow­ered by the same 2.2litre, four-cylin­der turbo diesel.

Pres­tige paint is an­other $385 and the City Pack for an ex­tra $1500 adds fog lights, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, rear cam­era with trailer hitch as­sist and an auto dim­ming rear vi­sion mir­ror with built-in re­vers­ing cam­era.

The new Tran­sit is de­signed to ap­peal to a broader range of cus­tomers, in­clud­ing trades­men and small busi­nesses. While it pro­vides a more car-like in­te­rior and driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, the new model has lost none of Tran­sit’s leg­endary tough­ness, im­pres­sive load-car­ry­ing abil­ity or im­pres­sive fuel ef­fi­ciency.

With a one tonne, two pal­let load ca­pac­ity, the short wheel­base 290S has a max­i­mum load space of 5.95 cu­bic me­tres and max­i­mum load length of 2555mm, while the 330L has 6.83 cu­bic me­tres and max­i­mum load length of 2922mm. Stan­dard in­te­grated roof racks can fold flat.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The 2.2-litre TDCi turbo diesel de­vel­ops 92kW of power at 3500 revs and 350Nm of torque from 1450 revs. In the 290S7 it de­liv­ers fuel con­sump­tion of 7.1 litres/100km, while the larger 330L uses a smidgen more at 7.3 litres/100km. The diesel is paired with a six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion.

A large 95-litre tank gives ei­ther model a range in ex­cess of 1000km.

SAFETY

Ford de­vel­oped the Tran­sit Cus­tom to meet the lat­est Euro NCAP re­quire­ments for pedes­trian pro­tec­tion and as such it has earned a five-star crash safety rat­ing.

It comes with a full com­ple­ment of safety sys­tems in­clud­ing hill launch as­sist, which stops the van from rolling back­wards for up to three seconds when you take your foot off the clutch.

DRIV­ING

We don’t drive a van for a liv­ing, but if we did we’d want it to be easy and fun to drive. The Tran­sit nails it on both points.

The high mounted gear shift falls eas­ily to hand and the cargo wall is not only safe but helps to re­duce the echo ef­fect of the load area.

Ac­cess to the load area is via a slider at the side or barn doors down the back.

For a van it also has some sur­pris­ing, even luxury, in­clu­sions such as heated seats and dig­i­tal ra­dio.

The driver-fo­cused in­stru­ment panel has a com­pre­hen­sive num­ber pad for di­alling while you can also end or ini­ti­ate phone calls with­out tak­ing your hands off the wheel.

VERDICT

Not bad as far as vans go. The fun fac­tor is the clincher. Throw in lum­bar ad­just­ment and we’d be happy as a pig in mud.

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