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The new Ford Transit Custom has finally hit UK shores, which means the Transit range is now split in half as a new larger model, dubbed two-tonne, arrives at the end of this year.
The new van is a giant leap forward on anything that has gone before, and is particularly impressive for interior quality and kit, as well as the innovative, clever functionality in several areas.
Standard kit on this, admittedly top-spec, Limited includes dual sliding rear doors rather than the single one found on Base and Trend levels, 16-inch alloys and the load area protection kit, all of which make it appealing for owner-drivers despite the £1440 step up from middling Trend trim. But for most operators the Trend will be the one to go for, offering auto lights and wipers, digital radio, sealed load floor, front and rear parking sensors and cruise control over the Base model, which, though £1140 cheaper, still gets Bluetooth and the clever through-load system. Opening a flap in the bulkhead allows an extra 530mm of load length and Ford claims another 93 litres of load space under the front passenger seat, but it's that length that's useful, taking the short-wheelbase version to over three metres of load length and pushing the long-wheelbase to 3452mm. The only way you'd not get the through-load system as standard is by de-speccing the dual passenger seat.
This LWB Custom costs £840 more than its shorter sibling, and that cash buys an extra 367mm of length and another 0.9m3 of load space, while losing a little on the otherwise good payload front because of the increased weight of the extra metal.
Our part-loaded Custom with the 125hp 2.2-litre TDCi diesel felt perky enough but needed some work uphill, yet overall wasn't a lot different to the 155hp model. Unless you're up at the higher end of load weight or doing major miles, it's not worth the extra £1200 for the power, although £900 to go from the 100hp entry engine to 125hp is a different matter.
The Transit also leads in its driving experience, offering good ride quality, great steering feedback and body control and a solid gear change. The only criticism is that other rivals offer better interior storage, while a couple of our test vehicles were already developing the odd rattle and squeak. Otherwise the Transit Custom is an excellent entrant that jumps straight to the top of the class.