Anybody who doubts that Ford’s all-conquering Transit still has a tight grip on the British van-buying public’s imagination should spend a little time at the wheel of the new Transit Custom, writes Steve Banner
Stop at a filling station, and you are guaranteed that somebody in jeans and working boots will head towards you and start asking lots of questions about the new Transit Custom. Simply leave your vehicle parked outside your house and any plumber, electrician, painter/ decorator working nearby will whip out their smartphone, start photographing it and immediately send the pictures to their mates.
If Ford executives aren’t absolutely delighted by the impact the newcomer is already having, then on the evidence of our experience they certainly should be.
So what are our impressions? After 1330 miles the story so far is, by and large, a positive one.
In Trend trim – above Base but below Limited and Sport – and powered by the 125hp version of the newcomer’s 2.2-litre TDCi diesel, What Van?’s Transit Custom is far better built than any previous Transit model. It is as if Ford got hold of a VW Transporter, took it to bits to see how it was assembled and decided to put the new Transit Custom together accordingly. Okay, it doesn’t quite come up to Transporter quality levels – few vans do – but it’s not far off.
With the sharpest steering of any van of its size it handles phenomenally well, its ride is about as smooth as it is ever going to get on Britain’s battered road surfaces, the gear change is slick and quick and the 125hp engine should meet the needs of most operators. You can also have a 100hp or 155hp variant, and all three versions of the 2.2-litre are married to a six-speed manual gearbox.
Our long-wheelbase standard- roof’s 6.83m3 load area seems capable of swallowing all sorts of rubbish and is at present stuffed with everything from packaging material and a selection of old curtain tracks to an ancient and rather grubby-looking duvet. Next stop – now that an entry permit for vans carrying domestic waste has been acquired – is Ross-on-Wye tip.