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