Five-years after the mid-size Ford Transit Custom van arrived on New Zealand soil, its being revamped with a Euro 6 compliant 2-litre engine and a six-speed automatic.
A new chrome insert of the front of the grille will identify the Euro 6 model year 2015 Transit Custom from its Euro 5 predecessor, and the range of vehicles will also receive Ford’s new side wind stabilisation programme in addition to electronic stability control, hill launch assist, load adaptive control, and roll over mitigation.
All 2017 model year Transit Custom buyers now benefit from a new generation four-cylinder 125kW / 405Nm EcoBlue turbodiesel engine with the choice of a manual or automatic, offering up to 14% better fuel economy than the predecessor 2.2-litre engine.
The new engine uses urea-based AdBlue liquid as part of its emission reduction system and there is a separate tank for it which holds enough fluid to last between 12 to 15,000km according to Ford. It’s checked at each scheduled service, and the filler opening is conveniently located next to the diesel fuel filler.
Depending on model variant and transmission chosen – Ford quotes combined fuel efficiency figures from 6.4l/100km to 7.2l/100km.
There are four Transit Custom variants available, a short wheelbase (SWB)low roof model with full glazing, a SWB low roof model unglazed, a long-wheelbase (LWB)low roof unglazed model,and a LWB high roof unglazed model.
All 2017 Transit Custom vans have a left side opening door, and twin rear barn doors as standard. Swapping over to a glazed tailgate is a no cost option and adding the right hand side sliding door is an additional $700.
Our SWB automatic test vehicle arrived with both the hinged tailgate and the right hand side sliding door, as well as the standard steel bulkhead which features a flip-up load through area for items up to three metres in length to be comfortably slid inside the cargo area.
The cabin is well set up as a mobile office with numerous cup and bottle holders in the dashboard and an enclosed storage area directly in front of the driver, and on raising the lid it reveals a 12-volt USB power supply for cellphones and the like.
There is also more than ample storage for clipboards, map books, and so forth in the enormous cubbies within the two front doors.
Hiding bags and other valuable items out of sight is made easier by flipping up the seat cushions of the two person bench seat to reveal ample space underneath for secure storage.
Mobile telephones have grown a lot since Ford’s designers executed what is an otherwise brilliant idea, sadly the rather cute but very size-restricted cell phone holder in the dashboard will only accommodate something as large as an iPhone 5SE, anything bigger is best to stay in your pocket.
The Transit Custom continues with an earlier version of the integrated Ford Sync communications system offering voice activated control of the audio system, a bluetooth connected mobile phone, and it can read out SMS text messages as well.
The Sync screen in the middle of the dashboard isn’t big enough for a navigation system, but it does not provide a haven for the reversing camera, which also comes with front and rear parking assistance sonar.
Adding leather to the steering wheel gives a nice feel to the Transit Custom and also provides remote controls for the phone and audio functions, as well as the operation of the trip computer functions and also the operation of the cruise control.
While the air conditioning is a manual system rather than climate controlled it is very effective at clearing mist from the large windscreen or pulling the cabin temperature down on a hot sunny day.
The job of the air-conditioning unit is made easier thanks to the full steel bulkhead with a glass partition directly behind the seats for the driver and the two passengers.
The area designated for carrying cargo behind the bulkhead is able to accommodate three Euro sized pallets or six cubic metres of freight, as well as 2400mm x 1200mm sheets of wallboard or plywood.
Ford’s designers decided to position the tie down points on the side of the load space rather than the floor, which leaves the floor clear of obstructions. Ford also installed a vinyl floor lining on top of the metal floor, not only for protection and ease of cleaning, but it also allows for cardboard cartons to slide in and out of the van more easily.
Unique to the Transit Custom are three integrated folding roof racks which can carry up to 130kg but fold down when not in use, contributing not only to better fuel economy but far less wind noise they are in the raised position.
The Transit Custom SWB automatic offers a payload of 857 kg and a towing capacity of up to 2.8 tonne provided that a Ford-approved towbar package is fitted to it.
On the road and behind the steering wheel, the Transit Custom feels very car-like in its driving behaviour, and the new engine and transmission combination is a huge leap over the predecessor model.
The EcoBlue unit provides more than adequate power for swift take off regardless of whether it is heavily laden or empty, and the six-speed automatic works swiftly and effectively. It’s best not to push the accelerator pedal too quickly from rest on a wet road, because you can feel some torque steer through the wheel, even though the traction control is working overtime to minimise it.
When unladen the ride quality is naturally quite firm, as is expected of a delivery van, but it’s not uncomfortable even over the worst bumps and corrugations that Kiwi roads can sometimes provide.
While visibility from the driver’s seat forward is very good, due to the bulkhead and the lack of rear glazing, the Transit Custom suffers large blind spots, but these are mitigated by the huge side mirrors plus the reversing camera also comes into its own when manoeuvring the vehicle out of a tight space or an angled street park.
The automatic with the new 2-litre EcoBlue engine might be somewhat late to market but it was worth waiting for, most definately better late to the party than never at all.
|Model||Ford Transit Custom SWB Automatic||Price||$53,990|
|Engine||1995cc, -Cylinder, 125kW/405Nm||Drivetrain||6-speed auto|
|Fuel Use||7.2L/100km||C02 Output||0g/km|
|0-100km/h||0.00 sec||Weight||2083kg kerb weight|
|Service||3 year / 100,000km warranty||Load||5.95m3 volume, 2555m length, 1406m height|
|Vitals||2940kg GVM, 857kg payload||Vitals||1800kg towing capacity|