We put a lot of miles in over the summer months, there are so many events and races that we aim to get ourselves along to it equals a lot of time on the road. Ford have just launched their new van aimed squarely at the the active user market and have kindly leant one to us for a few months to test it out. And test it we will, the Ford Transit Custom has just returned from a 2000 mile round trip in Europe taking in Switzerland, Italy and France, carrying 4 members of the IMB team along with 4 bikes, spares and gear. Over the next few months it will be heading to events in the UK and Europe to help us get the stories we need for the magazine.
We have the Transit Custom Kombi 310 LWB Trend 2.2 TDCi 6 speed manual model, it will seat up to 9 people with plenty of room for some bikes as well. The seats can all be removed allowing three of you upfront to take a ton of gear around or you can leave the rear seats in as we have to allow plenty of room for four riders and four bikes to get around with comfort.
The Ford Transit Custom is the perfect size vehicle for the rider with a family, leave the seats in and ferry the kids around all week and then sling your bike and mates in the back when you get the time to go on some MTB adventures. The added versatility of the extra seating should make it easy to swing past the person who holds the purse strings in the family unit too, it’s practical, stylish and has ample space for plenty of useful tasks, being a taxi, taking garden rubbish to the tip, and *ahem* filling with bikes at the weekend.
Upfront the cockpit is reminiscent of many of the current Ford car ranges, it’s pleasant to sit in, even the “bitch” seat is useable with the dashboard mounted gear stick. The multi functional steering wheel allows you to control the stereo, make calls, turn on the cruise control and hoot at annoying Italian motorists, which is very important when driving on the continent. One of our favourite features is the hidden dash storage inside you will find connections for USB, iPod and iPhone and a 12volt charger. Add a 12volt multiplier and you can run your tunes and your Sat Nav with minimal wires crossing the dash. Very neat and tidy. In addition to the chargers in the storage area there is a 12volt socket on the dash and also a 3 pin plug socket for more traditional electronic devices such as your laptop.
On our trip we went to Morgins, Pila, Livigno and Les Arcs, there was never a grumble from the passengers or the driver, indeed driving the Ford Transit Custom feels much more akin to driving a car than the heavy handling of some of the vans we have had in the past. There is plenty of clever electronic trickery in the heart of the beast too, driver assist features such as auto lighting, auto windscreen wipers, hill start assist and traction control allow you to concentrate on the road keep the ride smooth.
On an Eco tip the new vehicle features a modern fuel efficient engine with a variety of ECOnetic features to ensure the emissions are as low as possible and the vehicle is as lean on the gas as Kate Moss is on fish and chips. In ECO mode the revs are kept to a minimum and the speed is limited to 70mph so you can get the most miles per gallon from your journey. If you aren’t too bothered about saving the world and would prefer to get to your aunties Sunday dinner on time simply hit the ECO button and release the full power from the engine. Even with the ECO mode disengaged the vehicle is very efficient giving you a descent amount of miles to each tank. During our trip we averaged 29.1 MPG for the entire duration of the 2000 mile journey, not bad for a fully loaded van that drove up and down some seriously high mountain passes in 3 different countries!
The new Ford Transit Custom certainly made the trip a lot easier, the added seating options meant the passengers weren’t squashed, we saved a bunch of money on fuel compared to our older less efficient van and the driving experience was sublime. A lot of riders prefer a van to sling their bikes in at the end of a ride, but are also looking for something stylish and comfortable to drive. Up until now the choice has been rather limited but this new offering from Ford puts them firmly on the map in terms of satisfying the active user market.
The Ford Transit Custom is a stylish van with a solid beating heart underneath the bonnet, which incidentally we haven’t even lifted yet, I might go and have a peak now…