The crew van version of the UK’s best-selling van is comfortable carrying both people and cargo, as James Dallas discovers.
The Ford Transit Custom has been picking up plaudits since it set a new benchmark in the medium van sector when it came to market in 2013.
It raised the bar for innovation and driveability and, arguably, toppled the Volkswagen Transporter as the benchmark model in the sector by matching its quality and adding more dash to its exterior and interior styling.
The Custom impressed us so much that we crowned it the What Van? Van of the Year in both 2013 and 2014, making it the first model ever to win the prize two years running.
In 2016 Ford introduced new engines to the line-up in advance of the Euro6 emissions legislation that came into force in September of that year.
The newcomer on our long-term test fleet is a Transit Custom Trend Double-cab-in-Van (DCiV) long-wheelbase powered by Ford’s 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine with an output of 130hp, which is married to six-speed manual transmission.
With space for six occupants, including the driver, this bodystyle is well suited for operators needing to get a team of workers as well as their tools or a load of materials to and from site.
It is also, of course, a good option for those who need a working van during the week and a family vehicle in the evenings and at weekends.
I wasted little time in putting the van through its paces on a bank holiday camping trip in the Forest of Dean.
While we did not have bums on all the seats on this occasion, with just two adults and two children travelling, it should be noted that the middle seat in the front row provides enough space for a passenger to travel in relative comfort, mainly because the dashboard-mounted gear stick does not intrude upon legroom, which is not the case in many vans that claim to offer three front seats.
In addition, the middle seat can be raised to reveal a generously proportioned hidey-hole for tools, bags or laptops and the backrest folds down to create the now almost mandatory table with cup holders.
A nearside sliding door gives access to the rear seats, so the load area can be reached solely via the heavy tailgate. A low step up enables easy access to it, however, and on our camping weekend we loaded it up with all the necessary paraphernalia such as tents, tables, gazebo, cooking stove and sleeping bags, not to mention the dog. On the way back we filled the cargo box with all the rubbish and recycling accumulated by five families over the previous three days.
The 310 LWB is the most spacious double-cab-in-van in the Custom line-up and larger than most medium-size crew vans on the market, which usually stick to a medium-wheelbase, low-roof format. It offers a load space of 6.2m3 combined with a payload of 884kg. The 310 L2 H2 Kombi version of the Transit Custom, however, boasts an 8.3m3 load space with a payload of 841kg.
VW, meanwhile, offers a LWB, high-roof Kombi derivative of its extensive Transporter range – the 2.0 TDI 102hp five-speed manual – with a 9.3m3 load box and a payload of 1,141kg. The list of options on our test van is as long as my arm and adds more than £5,000, excluding VAT, to the model’s price, but notable items include air-conditioning, Visibility pack premium (lane keeping, rear-view camera and adaptive cruise control), stop/start and a tow bar.
Report Card: Load Space Score = 4/5
The double-cab can carry six people in relative comfort and also offers an impressive load-lugging capacity.
Options (ex VAT)
Visibility pack premium £1,334
Front manual aircon £576
Alloy wheels £480
Roof rack £379
AGM cyclic durable batteries (x2) £307
Mud and snow tread £288
Tow bar £288
Passenger airbag £192
Stop/start system £192
Rear wash wipe (transmission linked) £146
Perimeter alarm £144
Configurable unlocking £125
Extra heavy-duty alternator £115
Fixed rear window £96
Floor cover – rubber £96
Front seat pack 15 £96
230V power converter £58
Rear aux 12V socket £58
Acceleration control £48
Fixed 2nd row window £48
Smokers pack £34
Tinted glass, complete £0