The Ford Transit Custom is a state-of-the-art mid range van and is now the product that every other contender in this segment fears.
With a much-improved cabin and car-like driving manners, it’s a great ownership proposition.
Class-leading carrying capacity and solid financials make it work on the balance sheet too.
Whether you choose your Transit Custom with long or short wheelbase, as a standard van, Double Cab or Kombi minibus or in whichever payload or trim level, it’ll come with a 2.2-litre TDCi diesel engine up-front.
There’s a choice of output though, ranging from an entry-level 100PS unit, through a 125PS mid-ranger and on to the 155PS flagship motor if your hauling needs are heavier.
Whichever of these you choose, sales statistics suggest that the bodystyle variant you’re most likely to want to match it to is the short wheelbase, low roof model, a version that should feel even more car-like to drive than its larger contemporaries.
And Ford’s engineers have certainly gone to great lengths to make this Transit feel more car-like at the wheel than ever before.
To achieve this, the Ford global one-tonne platform which underpins the Transit Custom was made much stiffer and stronger - increasing torsional stiffness by as much as 37 percent - benefiting both handling and noise levels.
Tuning of the suspension components and steering system resulted in significantly improved ride comfort too, along with the required more precise and agile handling.
Like the current Ford Focus, the Transit Custom also features the latest Electronic Stability Program technology with Torque Vectoring Control for better traction and stability.
The stiffer structure, together with a determined effort to eliminate unwanted noise and vibrations throughout the vehicle, has resulted in a quieter environment for the driver.
One of the key criteria when developing the Transit Custom was to make it a good deal more upmarket to look at.
In short, Ford wanted to launch a vehicle that people wouldn’t feel ashamed to have sitting outside their house or on their driveways.
Have they succeeded? Well certainly, this Custom is certainly a good deal less blocky in its styling than old-school Transits, with a definite hint of Ford’s trendy Kinetic design, especially around the front end.
That big trapezoidal grille and the swept back lights aren’t that different to the styling you’d see on a Focus or a Mondeo, something further emphasised by the pronounced shoulder line and the neatly sculpted wheelarches.
The result is an edgier look that’ll have broad appeal, yet one that hasn’t diluted this vehicle’s essential practicality.
So is the Transit Custom the best mid-sized van you can buy?
There’s certainly no shortage of contenders for that accolade in a class characterised by strong competitors like Volkswagen’s Transporter, Mercedes’ Vito and Vauxhall’s Vivaro.
The International Van of the Year jury though, had no doubt on the matter, pronouncing this Ford as its 2012 winner by an enormous margin.
Their consensus was that this LCV had managed to set new standards in styling, driveability and load-carrying practicality.
They also praised its car-like feel,
its safety and its low running costs.
In short, they liked it very much indeed.
Will you? We think so, yes. Before this Ford came along, buying a van in this segment meant a balance of compromise between capacity, driveability and value.
At the wheel of a Transit Custom, the need for such compromise vanishes. It’s the go-to choice in its sector.