CUSTOMER-FOCUSED (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Ford's Transit Custom one-tonne mid-sized van offers an even stronger LCV proposition with smarter styling and frugal electrified engine technology. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at what's on offer.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 123
Ford's Transit has ruled the British large LCV market for around half a century, its very name synonymous with its purpose. In the past, this may have had a great deal to do with tradition and the vast choice of derivatives on offer but today's sales success is very much down to quality of product. Take this mid-sized model, the Transit Custom, now improved with the option of mild hybrid EcoBlue diesel power and the availability of a PHEV petrol plug-in variant. The 'Custom' slots into the range beneath the largest '2-tonne' model, known simply as 'Transit', and is there to take on Vito and Vivaro-sized medium-sized vans in the volume part of the LCV sector. It's a very complete commercial vehicle indeed.
Backgroundword count: 223
Think of a large-ish van and it's a pretty sure bet that you'll be thinking of this one, Ford's Transit, the self-proclaimed 'backbone of Britain'. And it's true, thousands of British businesses do indeed depend on this vehicle. So successful has it been on these shores since its original launch back in 1965 that its very name has almost passed into our language, a byword for van versatility. This Custom version hits the sales sweet spot in the medium range LCV marketplace for a vehicle not too big - and not too small. Here is Ford's answer to European market leaders like Volkswagen's Transporter, Mercedes' Vito, the Peugeot Expert, the Citroen Dispatch, the Renault Trafic and what on these shores, we know as the Vauxhall Vivaro. To deal with such tough opposition, the Blue Oval brand is offering both mild hybrid and Plug-in hybrid powertrains to Transit Custom operators, along with more advanced driver assistance features. Plus, as usual, there's an enormous range of model variants, with over 300 Transit Custom versions on offer. Not bad when you remember that there were just 75 derivatives available when the original model Transit was first launched back in 1965. As a result, whether today your large van needs are to carry packages or people, then this Ford remains an option that you simply can't ignore.
Driving Experienceword count: 215
Under the bonnet, this LCV's 2.0-litre Ford EcoBlue engine is offered in 105PS, 130PS, 170PS and 185PS power ratings, with all but the lowest-powered version available with the option of automatic transmission, a 6-speed SelectShift set-up. With this updated model, buyers of the 130PS variant also get the option of a frugally-focused mHEV mild hybrid variant. There's also a plug-in PHEV model, but that has to be had with a 1.0-litre EcoBoost 126PS petrol powerplant and single-speed automatic transmission. The EcoBlue diesel powerplant that most buyers will choose has been engineered to provide strong low-end pulling power - enough to be able to tow a braked trailer of up to 2.0 tonnes. The other thing you notice at the wheel with these engines is how relatively quiet they are, thanks in part to the 6-speed manual transmission with its long gearing. And of course the provision of a standard bulkhead across the range helps further here. The sprightly handling and performance makes it important that the brakes are up to the job - they are. You'll also want this vehicle to be manoeuvrable, hence a decently tight turning circle that varies between 11.6m (kerb-to-kerb) and 12.2m (wall-to-wall). And should you be at an uphill junction, standard Hill Launch Assist will help you get away smoothly.
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