The new Ford Transit Custom has already won numerous awards since its launch this year for its superb build quality compared to the old small Transit and the guys at Dunton in Essex have been busily rolling out new variants to cater for every possible business taste.
This model, the Tourneo, offers nine seats – and that’s nine seats with plenty of legroom, not for nine contortionists with their legs wrapped round their necks.
It’s based on a long wheelbase Transit Custom so shouldn’t be short on room, but we still can’t quite work out how Ford managed to get so much space in such a relatively small vehicle.
I reckon it must have been in touch with Dr Who’s Tardis designer. Even with all the seats up, this van has a load volume of 2.5 cubic metres – nearly as much as is offered in the smaller Transit Connect.
However, this model is not cheap. In fact, with all the extras that were loaded on, it weighed in at £29,400 (excluding VAT).
On the plus side, you get an awful lot for your money. The Tourneo comes with twin sliding side doors, carpets throughout, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers and a host of other equipment that you rarely see on a standard panel van.
As with all Ford vans, the Tourneo gets electronic stability control (ESC) as standard.
The practicality comes from the fact that you can remove all the seats, so this could be a van one day, an upmarket minibus for transporting executives another and a mixture of the two on yet another day – kind of like three vehicles rolled into one.
Under the bonnet is Ford’s familiar 2.2-litre TDCi turbodiesel unit which offers a lively 155bhp and 284lb-ft of torque.
This van carries an Econetic badge, which means it features various technology such as auto stop-start and a 70mph speed limiter to improve fuel economy.
The official figure is an impressive 43.5mpg on the combined cycle.
However, if you load this vehicle up with passengers or make free use of all that horsepower on offer, that figure is likely to suffer dramatically.
We’ve already raved about the new Transit Custom in previous issues of Fleet Van. Build quality is a quantum leap forward over the old Transit and general smoothness, ride and handling are excellent.
But the Tourneo is something else. With its full-length carpeting and quiet engine, it’s more like driving a large MPV than a van.
We were also amazed at how much legroom there is.
Middle seat passengers can almost stretch their legs right out, while there’s also more than enough room in the third row.
And with all the seats being removable, some fleets could well replace a van and a car with this single vehicle.
However, to get those seats out is nigh on impossible for one person. It’s a two-man job – and then you have to find somewhere to store them. Putting the seats back in is even trickier.
We were particularly impressed with the rear parking camera. When the van is put in reverse, part of the rear-view mirror becomes a little display showing what’s behind.
Unfortunately it was part of a premium visibility pack which comes at £1,182, meaning it would need to prevent a few accidents before it paid for itself.