The Transit Custom has reigned supreme as the UK’s most popular van since Ford introduced the nameplate for its medium van in 2012 to distinguish it from its big brother the Transit.
To get an idea of the Custom’s dominance of its sector, in 2020 it outsold the combined total of the other four top-selling medium vans – the Volkswagen Transporter, Vauxhall Vivaro, Peugeot Expert and Renault Trafic.
Its total of 43,551 registrations far surpassed the 23,506 sales of the nation’s second best-selling van, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
Customers are not spoilt for choice: the diesel-fuelled Transit Custom line-up is powered by a 2.0-litre Ecoblue engine up for grabs at 105hp, 130hp, 170hp or 185hp.
Last year Ford added the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle version to the range, which comes with an electric motor plus a battery pack that can be recharged using mains electricity.
It is backed by a range-extender petrol engine.
In 2013 Ford complemented the Transit Custom trim level option list with a Sport van, a tradition it has continued ever since, and early this year I was delighted to welcome the latest iteration of the Custom Sport DCiV (double-cab in van) to the What Van? fleet. It comes with a lively 185hp engine, which in my van is married to six-speed automatic transmission.
Light commercial vehicles are, of course, predominantly working tools. But the Custom Sport, particularly in crew van guise, bridges the gap to passenger cars in that it carries considerable desirability along with versatility and practicality.
Frustratingly, the arrival of my Sport van coincided with the implementation of another Covid-19 lockdown followed by the onset of a prolonged bout of arctic weather conditions, both of which restricted my opportunities to get behind the chunky, leather-trimmed, rake and reach-adjustable steering wheel of the van.
It did not, however, diminish its kerb appeal. The Custom Sport is a great-looking van that is likely to attract owner-drivers and SMEs, in particular, who want to create a slick, stylish image for their businesses while enjoying the experience of driving to and from their place of work. The DCiV will also appeal to families as a dual-purpose vehicle.
Car-like is an overused phrase but one that can genuinely be applied to the Custom Sport when it comes to driveability and comfort.
Visually my van is enhanced by 17in alloy wheels, metallic paint (£624, excluding VAT), Sport Van body styling kit, hood accent stripe and a coloured grille with three base bars.
Inside there are two front seats and a three-seat rear bench that is separated from the load bay by a full bulkhead, which helps the cabin to warm up quickly on cold winter days. The driver and front seat passenger also benefit from heated seats while the Quickclear heated windscreen, something Ford has long provided, means you don’t have to wait for ages for the glass to clear.
Apart from the aforementioned steering wheel, the seats also get leather trimming. The centrepiece of the cab is the floating, tablet-inspired, 8in colour touchscreen with Ford’s Sync 3 communications and entertainment system, which can be operated with pinch and swipe gestures. It houses two USB outlets and, it goes without saying, DAB radio. Sync3 is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and also offers Emergency Assist via Ford Pass Connect.
Report card: Desirability – 5/5
The Transit Custom Sport is a stylish, slick-looking van that will enhance the image of customers’ businesses.
Ford Transit Custom Sport DCiV
Official combined fuel economy 38.2mpg
Our average consumption 25.2mpg
Price range (ex VAT) £23,040-£43,925
Price (ex VAT) £35,177
Service intervals 25,000mls
Load length 1,577mm
Load width (min/max) 1,351/1,775mm
Load bay height 1,406mm
Load volume 904kg
Gross payload 3.5m3
Engine size/power 1,997cc/185hp
Gearbox 6-spd auto
Options (prices ex VAT)
Metallic paint £624
Adaptive cruise control £480
Blind spot info & Cross traffic alert £154
Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights £528
Side rear window blinds £72
Power converter £58
Rear aux power socket £58