Trying to keep cool in What Van?’s long-term Transit Custom now that the British weather has warmed up has not been without its problems, as Steve Banner reports.
Warm summer days have prompted the pressing of the Transit Custom’s aircon button with reasonable regularity, and revealed that while the button boasts a light telling you when the system is on, it is so small as to be barely visible to the naked eye. Like the rest of the heating and ventilation controls it is badly positioned some distance away from the driver, so craning one’s neck across the cab to peer at it while driving is not to be recommended.
The cold blast from the dashboard air vents is, of course, a giveaway, but the Transit Custom has a manual aircon system – an extra-cost option if you go for Trend specifications – rather than climate control, and it is not all that biddable. As a result, the driver can quickly go from not-quite-cool- enough to feeling a little bit like a lasagne that has just been dropped into a blast-freezer.
Trips to such exotic locations as Welwyn Garden City and Dunstable have been enlivened by the occasional muffled thump, as one of the sections of a big, ancient, dilapidated divan bed that has yet to be taken to the tip bumps up against the bulkhead. While the Transit Custom boasts plenty of load tie-down points, securing bulky items with a will of their own can be a challenge even if you possess enough suitable restraint traps.
Manoeuvring said bed into the 6.8m3 cargo area was made easier by the fact that the van is front- wheel drive, which means a low loading height. It comes with sensibly sized door apertures, too, which helped.
Now with 2457 miles to its name, our Transit is slowly maturing into a pleasant, relaxing van to drive, with more than enough performance from its 125hp diesel to satisfy most requirements. The handling just gets better and better, the responsive steering aids the vehicle’s manoeuvrability and the suspension seems to be getting evermore adept at delivering a comfortable ride.
Consumption remains a bit of a bugbear, though, with an average of 34mpg being at odds with a claimed combined consumption figure of almost 41mpg. This is yet more evidence, if evidence were needed, that the official mpg figures are misleading and at times over- optimistic, especially so far as commercial vehicles are concerned.