As our 2013 Van of the Year, it’s probably not a massive shock to see the vehicle we’re rating so highly also grab the honours in the medium van category.
The Transit Custom is an excellent, clever and intelligently engineered new entrant that’s worthy of the market-leading position it’s inheriting.
Ford has been keen to explain how much effort has gone into the development of its new competitor, claiming the Custom will have been driven the equivalent of three million miles, including 250,000 with current customers, prior to launch. The parameters for development have been set by a year-long data-logging exercise of 600 vehicles across seven markets, and include an accelerated test of a decade of use condensed into six months, 24 hours per day. The front doors alone were slammed a quarter of a million times in testing, while sliding side door and rear doors each took 150,000 slams, compared to 84,000 on a car door development.
The Custom comes with two vehicle lengths and one height, as well as three engine options of 100, 125 and 155hp iterations of the 2.2-litre diesel unit, plus van, combi and double-cab alternatives.
Vastly improved over its predecessor, the vehicle has also enjoyed a big improvement in residual value, with Ford claiming valuation expert Cap has given the Custom a 10.5 percentage point uplift in predicted worth after three years and 60,000 miles of use, a £1975 improvement.
Over four years and 80,000 miles, Cap is predicting the Custom will be worth £1500 more than its current equivalent.
The strengths of the new Transit Custom, which will be joined by a new larger 2.0t Transit in the next 12 months, are numerous. They include what What Van? would certainly describe as a class-leading interior for quality, while there are numerous technological advancements and innovations in the cabin, load area and exterior that give the Custom the position of something of a pioneer. From voice-activated technology to LED load-area lighting, extra load length through the bulkhead and under the passenger seat, and an integrated roof rack that folds into the roof when not needed,
there are numerous areas that Ford’s rivals will be looking at with interest and seeking to engineer into their forthcoming light commercial competitors.
The well-designed load area of the SWB Transit Custom can take three euro pallets stacked a metre high, which Ford claims no rival model can manage, and the firm is also claiming class leadership for distance between the wheel arches and the height of the sliding side door, making it a vehicle of choice for businesses carrying larger loads. But they had better not be too heavy, because the Custom’s one area of significant weakness is its poor payloads. Most rivals can better the new Transit by a wide margin, so be aware.
Last year’s Highly Commended medium van is once more considered capable enough to command Highly Commended status in the category.
The VW Transporter provides a reliable and well-built workhorse, although the interior and exterior styling are both a little on the bland side,especially compared to the new Transit Custom. Ride, handling and refinement are all excellent and the range covers a wide spectrum of engine, body sizes and trims.