Ford Transit Custom 2016 review

The UK’s best-selling van is back, with the eagerly awaited Transit Custom update set to tempt a new generation of buyers into basing their business on this legendary chassis. The sheer versatility of the Transit has held it as a market favourite for over 50 years, with the mid-size Transit Custom version being let loose on the market from 2012.

The latest version is released this month, and, building on the success of the 2015 model (named ‘Van of the Year’ at last year’s What Van? Awards), commercial drivers are in for another real treat.

Exterior

When practicality is the name of the game, there’s not all that much you can do to revolutionise the aesthetic of a vehicle. The evolution of the Transit Custom has been steady, but why invest resources in solving a problem that no one needs fixed?

The 2016 Transit Custom is a short wheelbase variant in the ‘Kombi’ layout, with a total length of 4.97m. A nod to progression has been made at the front of the van, with the gaping trapezoidal grille bringing it in line with the 2015 Transit and swept-back headlights providing an extra air of dynamism.

As always, there’s an option to suit almost any purpose with the Transit Custom. Body styles include the standard but ever-popular three-seat van layout, van with crew compartment for extra passengers and even a minibus option.

Interior

Versatility is hewn into the hardware of the Transit Custom, and that’s not just in the cargo compartment. The cab offers outstanding flexibility in terms of seating arrangements, with over 30 distinct variants to help you accommodate people and freight in whatever configuration you need.

In terms of interior design and accessories, Ford are taking a lead from the 2015 Focus, transferring many of the features that made this a winner as both a family and fleet vehicle. With designers sticking closely to the Focus brief, improvements to both the quality of materials and tech capabilities will be noticeable.

One minor but very welcome change to the Focus came through the replacement of plastics throughout the cabin. It may not be real fur, but the Transit Custom’s replacement polymer feels higher quality and is less prone to shake loudly at speed, an issue particularly prevalent in vans. This also has a knock-on effect for moving parts (such as the glovebox, indicators and buttons), which feel elegantly dampened rather than cheap and twitchy.

Both the capabilities and ergonomics of the tech package are upgraded too. A criticism of many of Ford’s most recent generation of vehicles was that the central console had been muddled by too many buttons and switches, neither practical nor pleasing to the eye. The new Transit Custom features an optional upgraded multimedia system with innovative SYNC Gen II infotainment unit. Assimilating most of the buttons into an 8-inch, high-res touchscreen, the system allows Bluetooth connectivity for calls and music, as well as a host of other techy additions.

Other than this, the Transit remains true to form, with a simple driver display and spacious cabin designed for the rigours of a life on the road.

On the road

On paper, the engine options on offer appear to have changed little since the last Transit Custom. Ford are again basing the Transit Custom on the rough-and-ready 2.2-litre Duratorq turbo diesel engine; a workhorse that is responsible for delivering more resources locally than almost any other engine. The van comes with a six-speed manual transmission gearbox that offers effortless flexibility however heavily the van is weighed down.

But Ford haven’t been resting on their laurels. The TDCi has been lovingly tweaked to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption to within the EU’s emissions regulations. Not only does this mean a helping hand for the environment, it can also help businesses to save a packet on carting heavy loads around the country. All this for power figures that match up closely to the previous edition, which cranked up to 92kW and 350Nm of torque.

Another trend that Ford have been keen to push with their latest vehicles has been improved seating. While the van sits more towards the practical end of the scale, drivers should notice improved lumbar support and more comfortable cushioning.

Verdict

The Ford Transit has long been trusted by everyone from leading motoring and governmental bodies to the average delivery driver and service provider for its reliability, versatility and ruggedness. These won’t be let down by the Transit Custom, which takes a tried-and-trusted base and adds a little touch of luxury.

Eco-credentials and safety (the van is the first ever commercial recipient of a 5-star NCAP rating for technology) are two other areas that will widen the appeal of this van even further – surely another instant classic.

For more information on the new Transit Custom or any of our other new cars and vans, contact the experts at your local Perrys dealership today.