Professional Builder looks at the new Ford Transit Custom

Professional Builder looks at the new Ford Transit Custom

Professional Builder attends the launch of a vehicle that is acCUSTOMed to success  

If a company is already the market leader by some distance then that’s a very good place to start. Of course, that does mean, when introducing a new iteration, the onus is squarely on improving what is already a very good product, and with the new Transit Custom that’s something that’s certainly been achieved. 

The Transit Custom was first unveiled to an eager and enthusiastic public in 2012, and is, of course, the heir to a much older heritage that extends to more than half a century. Since then, the van owning experience has been transformed but there’s never been the kind of changes that we’re currently contending with. Where once the internal combustion engine (ICE) went unchallenged, we are in an era where diesel, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hybrids (PHEVs) all co-exist, which adds a new dimension to the choice and versatility that the Transit brand already champions.

For a builder, the van is very likely to be the single biggest investment in their business, so they need a good reason to update. To make the leap the replacement needs to be more productive, economical, and a greater asset to the firm. Added to those parameters should, of course, be style, because the vehicle you arrive at the job in will say a lot about you. In that respect, Ford’s flagship commercial vehicle does not disappoint. From the standard 6.5 x 16in. alloy wheels to the 2m high roof, or headlamps to twin rear opening doors, its sleek and sculpted exterior exudes authority, making a powerful and professional statement for a trade business.

Its not just about aesthetics, of course, because the form fulfils a function, with aerodynamics playing its part in efficiency gains. Better posture and productivity is gained from a slightly lowered roof. At the same time, the seating position at the steering wheel is still satisfyingly high, and a flat front aids visibility. Inside, there’s an abundance of space around the driver and his passengers. Around 30litres of additional stowage has been gained from moving the passenger air bag into the roof, in fact, with the parking brake taken off the floor to create a flatter and less impeded surface.

Ground up update

Connectivity is no longer the preserve of the tech savvy with access to data on our smartphones now demanded, and here again the Transit Custom scores highly. Thanks to a full suite of services, the location of any vehicle you own, and what it’s doing, is at your fingertips. Moreover, the FordPass Pro app has been specifically designed for operators with one van or a small fleet of up to five. With it, vehicle health can be interrogated, the van can be remotely locked, and GPS positioning is displayed.

Anyone new to Transit Custom may well be surprised by the spec that is supplied as standard, which includes an 8in. digital cluster in front of the steering wheel, and a 13in. touchscreen in the centre of the dash. There’s wireless charging, in addition to wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, all supported by a 5G modem.

Ford is in constant dialogue with its customers and the fruits of that can clearly be seen in the mobile office experience. Here, an ingeniously simple tilting steering wheel opens up multiple uses – as a workspace for a tablet or laptop, for example, or just as a flat surface on which to eat your lunch. Moreover, that’s complemented by the possibilities that the creative storage solutions support.

Indeed, wherever you care to look you’ll find that the new Transit Custom is a true, ground up update. A 100kg in weight has been taken out of the product, for instance, which can then be added to the payload. In the BEV the wheelbase has been made marginally longer to accommodate the lithium-ion battery, with greater flexibility on offer in the cabin space. Behind the wheel, improvements to handling are evident from the new independent rear suspension which, in adhering to the tarmac and around corners, really does provide a car-like performance on the road.

The Transit Custom is powered by a 2-litre EcoBlue diesel engine, with a very impressive 2.8 tonne towing capacity. Even in the PHEV a more capable power split between ICE and battery means it can tow 2.3tonne, an unrivalled figure in a hybrid, and one that is repeated in the BEV. As with the current product the diesel features a six-speed manual gearbox, with an eight-speed auto also available. There’s equally a choice of front- rear- or intelligent all-wheel drive options. The BEV features a 64Wh battery with a choice between two e-motors at 100kW or 160kW, with an anxiety-easing range of 337km. 11kW DC charging and AC charging is available as standard.

Trades in mind

Entering the all-important load space through the substantial sliding side door aperture you’ll find that a sidestep improves access to a lower floor than featured in previous models. The greatest of the two body lengths, the L2 variant willin tandem with the load through hatch under the passenger seatprovide 3.45m of length. There’s a healthy payload of up to 1,350kg, and volume from 5.8 to 6.8m3. Safety features as standard are generous, including pre-collision assist, lane keeping system, traffic sign recognition, and intelligent speed assist, whilst options include a 360° camera.

The Transit Custom has now led the one-tonne van segment since 2015, and the latest model shows no sign of relinquishing its table-topping appeal. ‘Car-like’ is a muchoverused epithet in the commercial vehicle world but it is a particularly apt description. Nor should that moniker imply that it lacks practicality – because this is a vehicle that’s Custom-made for the trades.  

For further information on the Ford Transit Custom visit The All-New Ford Transit Custom Van | Ford UK.

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