CommercialFleet

First drive: Ford Transit Custom Trend Ecoblue L1H1 130 van review

Ford Transit Custom
Ford

Review

Since last October, the law has required that all new vans sold must have Euro 6 engines. The only exceptions to this are a few of the odd Asian imports which were built before this date and are allowed to be sold under a special derogation until mid-2017.

We have been gradually working our way through all the new models – and this month we’ve caught up with one of our favourites, the Ford Transit Custom.

Since its appearance in 2012, this medium panel van has really been setting the sales charts alight and helped Ford to a 15% rise in its sales in 2016. In my neck of the woods – Southend, Essex – you can hardly turn a corner without seeing one.

So what exactly do these Euro 6 engines mean to van fleet operators? 

On the plus side they offer lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy, while on the minus side they have AdBlue tanks that need filling up every 6,000 miles or so and they come at a price premium of around £1,000 more than the Euro 5 models they replace.

A rough calculation indicates that, in most cases, the extra cost of the van will be recouped and more in lower fuel costs over a 100,000-mile lifecycle.

The Transit Custom was narrowly beaten by the new Volks-wagen Transporter to the title of ‘Medium Panel Van of the Year’ at this year’s Commercial Fleet Awards – but as one of the judges, I can tell you it was a close-fought thing (the Custom was highly commended). The Transit Custom is a tour de force in this sector, make no mistake.

As such, we were delighted to spend a week with this upgraded model, which is as smooth, crisp and pleasant to drive as we remembered with the Euro 5 van it replaces.

Our test model is the Trend variant, which is one up from base and offers a good fleet-like spec without going silly with items such as alloy wheels. 

The now-obligatory ABS brakes and ESP traction control are joined by, among other things, hill start assist, emergency brake assist, foglights, front and rear parking sensors, a Quickclear windscreen and power adjustable and folding wing mirrors. 

At £24,330 ex-VAT, this van is £1,060 cheaper than the rival Citroën Dispatch, although it must be noted that Ford charges £600 for air-conditioning for example, which comes as standard on the French rival. The Dispatch has a better payload, too.

With Euro 6, Ford ditched its old 2.2-litre 125PS diesel unit for a new 2.0-litre one, which gets an EcoBlue moniker thanks to its better green credentials. With 130PS on tap and a mighty 385Nm of torque, this van is a real flyer on the roads, yet still manages to return a slated 46.3mpg on the combined cycle (the old engine returned 42.2mpg). 

Mind you that figure pales into insignificance against the Citroën’s 53.3mpg – although whether either of these two figures are actually achievable in real life is a moot point.

The Transit Custom is a cracking vehicle to drive, with a stylish dash taken from the Ford range of cars, nice big side mirrors for a good view of what’s behind, super supportive, yet comfortable, seats and a digital radio with a CD slot.

Build quality is superb, right up there with the best-in-class Volkswagen Transporter, as are ride and handling, which is a testament to how far Ford’s vans have come on in the engineering stakes in the past five years.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.



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