Pop­u­lar van is a ver­sa­tile load-car­rier


FORD’S TRAN­SIT CUS­TOM, A NEW EN­TRY INTO THE VAN seg­ment in 2012, quickly be­came the best-sell­ing ver­sion of the ever­green com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle name­plate.

This year, the mid-sized van gets its most sig­nif­i­cant up­grade yet.

Dur­ing the sec­ond half of the year, an au­to­matic gear­box will be added to the Cus­tom range. The Selec­tshift au­to­matic is a sixspeeder, and is sure to boost Tran­sit sales in a mar­ket that favours self-shift­ing gear­boxes..

At the same time, Ford will add the lat­est ver­sion of its Sync in-ve­hi­cle com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem to the van.

Top­ping out at just un­der two me­tres high, the Cus­tom will fit most city carparks, and its com­pact foot­print – though it shares a plat­form with the Tran­sit Cargo, it’s smaller and lighter – along with fea­tures like the fold-down roof rack, make it a ver­sa­tile load car­rier.

The SWB is 4973mm long and 1974mm high un­laden, with the roof rack flat, and can carry a 1170kg pay­load and tow 2000kg braked.

The LWB is 5340mm long, with a 2369mm height, again un­laden and with the rack down, and can carry a 1448kg pay­load and tow 2750kg.

Both ver­sions ar­rive stan­dard with a left-hand side slid­ing door and rear twin-hinged doors, but buy­ers can opt for dual side-load doors on ei­ther vari­ant, and a glazed tail­gate with wiper for the SWB.

The Tran­sit Cus­tom is pow­ered by the same 114kw/385nm 2.2-litre diesel engine that’s fit­ted to all NZ Tran­sits.

It has auto start/stop to cut fuel use in con­gested traf­fic. The mo­tor switches off au­to­mat­i­cally when the ve­hi­cle stops, then res­tarts when the clutch is de­pressed.

Ford says the Tran­sit Cus­tom is ca­pa­ble of fuel econ­omy of 6.6 or 6.9 litres/100km depend­ing on which size van is cho­sen; ei­ther will carry 80 litres of diesel and is B10 bio­fuel com­pat­i­ble.

The cabin is de­lib­er­ately de­signed to feel like a pas­sen­ger car’s. There are built-in hold­ers to carry two-litre bot­tles, roomy door pock­ets, and a com­part­ment above the dash­board which car­ries a USB port and a 12-volt power sup­ply and is within easy reach of the driver.

There’s an­other 12-volt socket in the driver’s stowage bin, a third out back, and the glove­box is roomy enough to carry A4 sus­pen­sion files.

Car-like tech fea­tures in­clude Ford Sync, an in-ve­hi­cle com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem co-de­vel­oped with Mi­crosoft that per­mits hands-free phone call­ing, and the abil­ity to re­ceive text mes­sages and play mu­sic.

Driv­ers also get one-touch pow­ered front win­dows, a leather­wrapped steer­ing wheel, air-con­di­tion­ing, and fol­low-me-home lights so that dark win­ter af­ter­noons or late ar­rivals back to base are eased by front lights that au­to­mat­i­cally switch off, but only af­ter the driver has had time to get the key out and un­lock the door.

Throw in heated mir­rors, front airbags and ABS brakes, sta­bil­ity con­trol, elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion and hill launch as­sist, a rear win­dow de­froster, a seat­belt re­minder for the driver, and a five-star NCAP rat­ing.

The cargo area fits three euro pal­lets or 5.95 cu­bic me­tres of cargo, and can hold a stack of stan­dard 2.4 me­tre by 1.2 me­tre Gib board, ei­ther ly­ing or stand­ing.

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