Transit Custom first drive


Motorhub went to Munich to test the next generation, multi-fuel, Ford Transit Custom. Sitting on a brand new platform the classic one-tonne Custom is a critical van for the blue collar company. Thanks to a loyal fan base it has dominated the commercial vehicle sales charts for decades – will it keep its lead? Of course it will, and we’ll tell you why.

The new Custom looks like a Transit, has more efficient powertrains, some clever design touches and segment innovations – many as a direct result of customer feedback. A new party trick is ‘Mobile Office’ – it features an extended tilt steering wheel, that when parked, allows the driver mount a special tray on it, that is perfect for a laptop. For craftspeople with power tools you can specify an onboard ‘ProPower’ 2.3kW power outlet in the rear with the PHEV and BEV powered versions – these electrified Transits can also tow up to 2,300kgs (diesel 2.5t). Other features to note include a time-saving delivery assist system, new exit warning alerts to help protect cyclists and a clever (and class-unique) ‘MultiCab’ body style that features a two-seat, fully-trimmed second row alongside a full-length cargo space. Loading, access, versatility and overall ease of use are all enhanced. As a workhorse, new Custom has taken strides forward and the others will have to catch up. 

During our testing we drove the new standard-sized ‘Custom’ (L1H1 with a secured, low-mounted load in the back) followed by a nine-seat ’Tourneo’ passenger model – both were like driving an old friend. Custom can be powered by 2-litre diesel, a 2.5-litre petrol plug in hybrid (PHEV) or all electric BEV (EV) with a 64kWh battery and a choice of electric motor powering the rear wheels (100kW/134hp or 160kW/214hp). First up we put the van through its paces powered by the bread and butter turbodiesel ‘EcoBlue’ 2-litre four cylinder unit with 150hp on tap (diesel power options are: 111hp, 136hp auto, 150hp, 170hp auto FWD+ all-new AWD). Power is delivered to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox (auto is 8-speed). The seating position is excellent and the drive controls are light and easy to use. The new dash features a digital driver’s display and customs get a 13 inch centre screen that slightly favours the driver, it also incorporates Ford’s Sync 4. There are some nice materials (our Limited grade had a gorgeous faux-leather squared-off steering wheel) and of course there is lots of hard wearing and cost saving plastics to be found. The ride quality, albeit on smooth German roads was class leading. Under the floor the rear gets a serious makeover with a new semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension set up. Apart from facilitating the lower floor, the independent suspension significantly improves handling, steering and aids traction.

Camper PHEV

Driving the new Transit is effortless and enjoyable. Selectable drive modes are available. At times we drove it like we stole it, and yet still returned a very respectable 7.5l/100km on a mixture of urban roads and a bit of autobahn – albeit a flat route. The jewel for me is the 8-speed automatic gearbox that made driving the Custom Tourneo a more premium experience. This is the gearbox to go for if you do a lot of urban driving or you want to take better care of your drivers and make their lives easier. Don’t get me wrong the manual is nice and light but the auto is just handier in day to day use. The Tourneo will do well as a shuttle but I’m really looking forward to the factory built Custom camper versions.

The Custom is 100kgs lighter, and features a slightly longer wheelbase (up to 200mm model dependent). The load floor has been lowered slightly and there is a lower roof height (under two metres) that makes use in multi-storey car parks and underground loading bays less stressful. The side door features a new integrated access step to make entering the load compartment easier, as well as an optional power sliding side door with hands-free operation – great for solo operators. The new shape is slippery and Custom’s improved aerodynamics combine with a range of more efficient powertrains to deliver excellent fuel consumption. Customisable Custom – As most vans undergo some sort of conversion and Ford has made a way to seamlessly integrate most ad-ons to its dash. Ford Pro’s ‘Upfit Integration System’ lets converters connect the Transit Custom’s electrical system, standard in-cab touchscreen and aftermarket equipment. This removes the need to modify the dash and does away with the need to splice into wiring to fit controls. The passenger airbag is now roof mounted and this frees up the passenger’s dash area, for more storage.

Is new Custom safe? Of course it is! Transit Custom’s suite of driver assistance systems includes features like Cross Traffic Assist, Reverse Brake Assist, 360-degree camera, and Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go technology on automatic models to enable feet-off driving even in traffic jams. Thanks to Transit’s standard 5G data connectivity – Big Brother is always watching – but he is also on hand to help. Custom facilitates advanced telematics and also allows over the air software updates.

Custom with our load.

Ford says the new Custom will make businesses more productive: “Delivery drivers can make up to 200 stops and deliver 500 items per day, with every parcel against the clock. ‘Delivery Assist’ (available October 2024) can help streamline every delivery by automating some of the process to save time and improve security. When enabled, Delivery Assist activates when the driver shifts into park. Transit Custom will automatically switch on its hazard lights, close any open windows, and lock the door once the driver leaves the van. When returning, the driver can keylessly enter and start the vehicle. The hazard lights will switch off and the windows will return to their previous position.” Ford says “Every all-new Transit Custom is fully integrated with the Ford Pro platform of software and connected services including management tools from Ford Pro Telematics, the FordPass Pro app, and the FORDLiive connected uptime system.” Oh, and ‘Alexa’ is built in from the factory so you can speak your next drop’s destination in to the navigation and off you go. We didn’t get to test the new all wheel drive set up but Ford says the new system: “intelligently distributes torque between the axles via an electronically-controlled coupling, with adjustments taking less than 20 milliseconds, and is available for vehicles fitted with the automatic gearbox. Owners who require more traction but prefer a manual gearbox can specify the 136hp or 150hp outputs with a mechanical limited-slip differential for enhanced rough-road performance.”

There’s a shed load more of information on the Transit worthy of copy but we will wait until we get our hands on it in Ireland later this year. Right now the new Transit Custom is available to order with deliveries starting at the end of the year. Various versions and powertrains will be rolled out in the coming months, with the all-electric E‑Transit Custom available later next year.


About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan is a senior and highly respected motoring journalist based in Ireland. He is a frequently heard voice on motoring, transport and mobility matters and has multiple credits on national television, national print media, national and local radio and other outlets. Michael Sheridan has been a Car of the Year Judge for more 20 years (& more recently a Van of the Year judge). Michael has produced and directed many international and national motoring TV programmes and documentaries both on cars and motorcycles - including four films on the iconic Route 66. Michael Sheridan is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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