Ford have given their top selling Transit Custom an impressive make-over for the year ahead, with a bold new exterior design and an all-new interior, as Van Ireland’s Garfield Harrison reports from Frankfurt in Germany.
This new Transit Custom builds on the success of the outgoing model, which became the top-selling van in its segment in 2015 and contributed towards a record sales year in 2016 in the UK. It continues to lead the market, with 86,400 sold September year-to-date.
Available to order now across Europe for customer delivery early this New Year, it is powered by Ford’s EcoBlue 2.0-litre diesel engine. With a choice of 105PS, 130PS and 170PS power ratings, the advanced new engine, say Ford, delivers significant cost of ownership and performance benefits compared to the previous 2.2-litre diesel, with fuel-efficiency improved by up to 13 per cent and low-end torque enhanced by 20 per cent.
“Transit Custom has been a runaway success since it was introduced, and this new version raises the game once more,” said Hans Schep, general manager, Commercial Vehicles, Ford of Europe. “We have listened carefully to our customers, and delivered a one-tonne van that is even more stylish, even more productive, and packed with smart features.”
Out on the open road, it feels almost, but not quite, the same as the model it replaces, but we have to agree with Hans Schep.
Some notable differences we immediately became aware of was in the steering. It feels lighter and more responsive, while engine noise has clearly been taken down a few notches – and comfort levels have been enhanced, all of which combine to give this new version an even greater ‘car-like’ quality. And dare we say it, it’s also better looking!
It has, for example, a dynamic and professional new front-end appearance that shares the same design DNA as Ford’s latest passenger cars, with a high-mounted trapezoidal grille and dynamic, slim headlamps. The latest lighting technologies are available, with high series models featuring distinctive new signature LED daytime running lights and powerful HID Xenon headlamps.
Providing an ideal mobile office environment, the new Ford Transit Custom also features
a completely new cabin packed with practical touches that will make any driver more at home during the working day.
Certainly, there is no shortage of storage areas, with up to 25 litres of space offered
in the instrument panel alone, including three convenient open bins on its upper surface with space for clipboards or mobile devices, and generous glove box stowage capable of storing hanging A4 files in the lower closed compartment.
FFurther new practical features include a fold-out cup holder beneath the gear lever, adding to the cup holders and 2-litre bottle holders at each end of the instrument panel. The door panels have also been completely redesigned for improved stowage and usability, with three large stowage spaces and a practical new grab handle integrated with the decorative door trim.
For the driver, all-new displays and control panels have been designed for enhanced ergonomics and ease of use, and high-series models feature a floating, tablet-inspired eight-inch colour touchscreen with Ford’s SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system that can be operated with pinch and swipe gestures.
SYNC 3 enables drivers to control audio, navigation and connected smartphones using simple, conversational voice commands. By pushing a button and saying “I need fuel”, “I need a coffee”, or “find an address”, drivers can locate nearby fuel stations, cafés, or the location of their next job. The system is also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
For vehicles not equipped with eight-inch or four-inch displays, the MyFord Dock in the centre of the instrument panel provides the ideal location for drivers to mount, store and charge their smartphone, MP3 player or satellite navigation system.
The new Transit Custom introduces a range of advanced new driver assistance features
that share technologies found on Ford’s latest passenger cars, and utilise sophisticated sensors, radars and cameras to provide information about the driving environment around the vehicle.
It is the first commercial vehicle to offer Intelligent Speed Assist, a feature that could help prevent drivers from exceeding speed limits, and potentially from incurring costly speeding penalties.
The system enables automatic adjustment of maximum vehicle speed to remain within legal limits, using the Traffic Sign Recognition system to detect speed limit signs. Drivers activate Intelligent Speed Assist via steering wheel controls to set a maximum vehicle speed. The system uses a windscreen-mounted camera to monitor road signs and, when
the speed limit is lower than that maximum set speed, slows the vehicle as required.
The new model is the first Ford van in Europe to offer Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, which provides two key functions for commercial vehicle users.
The Blind Spot Information System uses rear-facing radar sensors to detect when passing vehicles may have entered or are approaching the blind spot zone, and alerts the driver with a warning light in the corresponding door mirror.
A new Variable Rear Range feature provides drivers with an earlier warning if it detects that the passing vehicle is approaching with a higher closing speed. The new model also has the latest generation sensors, with increased range and improved capabilities that include the ability to detect motorcycles.
Cross Traffic Alert uses the same sensors to warn drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles or bicycles that may soon be crossing behind them, alerting them with an audible warning, a message in the instrument cluster, and a warning light in the door mirror. Activated when drivers select reverse gear the system is ideal for vans that often have restricted visibility to the rear and sides when exiting a parking space.
New Transit Custom also brings enhanced capabilities to the Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection emergency braking system introduced to the model in 2016. Equipped with the latest radar and camera technologies as fitted to the all-new Fiesta passenger car, the system is now even capable of detecting pedestrians at night when they are illuminated by the vehicle’s headlamps.
These new features add to the comprehensive suite of technologies already available for Transit Custom, including Lane Keeping Alert, Driver Alert, Auto High Beam, Rear View Camera, Adaptive Cruise Control and Side Wind Stabilisation.
The latest specification also introduces a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission – already chosen by 11 per cent of Transit Custom customers – and a unique-to-segment rear air suspension system on Kombi M1 models that delivers a supple, controlled and level
ride across a wide range of load conditions.