Hamilton explains more emphasis has been put on width with the dashboard layout, rather than having everything concentrated in the centre, as with the previous model, which did come in for some criticism for having fiddly buttons and a lack of practical places to put things.
Ford claims the instrument panel alone now offers 25 litres of storage, including three open bins on its upper surface with space for clipboards or mobile devices, and glovebox stowage capable of storing A4 files in the lower closed compartment.
A fold-out cup holder beneath the gear lever has been added to the cup holders and two-litre bottle holders at each end of the instrument panel. The door panels now house three stowage spaces, and a new grab handle has been integrated into the door trim.
Ford says this user-centric interior layout was influenced by consumer use of smart devices and tablets.
Flagship models get 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.
For vans not equipped with eight-inch or four-inch displays, the MyFord Dock in the centre of the instrument panel provides a location for drivers to mount and charge smartphones, MP3 players or satellite navigation systems. USB and 12V power sockets are found in the upper stowage bin in front of the driver, and alongside the gear lever to enable device charging.
The facelifted model is the first LCV in the brand’s line-up to get Ford’s Intelligent Speed Limiter, which allows automatic adjustment of maximum speed to remain within legal limits via the Traffic Sign Recognition system. Other new safety kit includes Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, which warns drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles about to cross behind them.
We tested the top-of-the-range Sport Van, which comes exclusively with the 170hp powertrain, in short-wheelbase/low-roof mode (L1H1) and with six-speed manual transmission. This model gets the eight-inch colour touchscreen with Sync 3, DAB, and Emergency Assistance that in fact becomes the focal point of the dashboard on the Limited trim level beneath Sport.
Drop down to Trend and you have to make do with the 4.2in screen, which is the specification where cruise control with adjustable speed limiter come on board too. In a line-up that is generally well-specified from the entry-level point, it is surprising that air-conditioning is only included on Limited and Sport derivatives, as are heated front seats.
Much of what you get with Sport that’s not included in the Limited mix is cosmetic and designed for operators – such as small business owners – who want to promote their brand and stand out from the crowd.
Such features include leather seat trimming, 18in as opposed to 16in alloys, exterior stripes, the Sport styling kit with front, lower bumper skirt, body-colour side skirts, rear bumper skirts, and front and rear wheel-arch extensions.
Of more practical use are the tyre pressure monitoring system, lane-keeping alert with driver alert and the excellent rear-view camera with trailer hitch assist. The front and rear parking sensors are added on Trend models.
Transit Custom Sport 290 170hp L1H1
Price (ex VAT) £30,900
Price range (ex VAT) £20,995-£32,000
Insurance group 33E
Service intervals 36,000mls
Load length 2,555mm
Load width (min/max) 1,390/1,775mm
Load bay height 1,406mm
Gross payload 808kg
Load volume 6.0m3
Engine size/power 1,996cc/170hp
Combined fuel economy 44.1mpg
The facelifted Transit Custom features an improved interior and retains outstanding performance and competitive practicality. Ford has once more raised the bar in the crucial medium van segment that it already dominates.