Road test: Ford Transit Custom Sport Van


A van on AOL Cars? What is going on? Well, as we all know, the Transit is known the world over and deserves some of your attention. We got behind the wheel of the latest version to see what all the fuss is about.

What is it?

It's hard not to love the Ford Transit. It's been a familiar sight on Britain's roads for more than 40 years and is Britain's favourite with small businesses, large businesses, the emergency services and utility companies all falling in love with the capable people and objects mover. Why is that? Well, it may have something to do with it being the first car-like van ever made. When it burst on the scene in the 1960s, the Transit was one of the first to spare a thought for the driver –in comfort, load-carrying and driver enjoyment respects. This is the latest version – controversially not built in the UK but in Turkey - but it remains a van that can come in any guise: From small Transit Connect right up to a gargantuan two-tonne version. But we've got the Custom Sport Van on test – the most Essex version available.

What's under the bonnet?

It's the Transit Custom range's most powerful engine – a 2.2-litre TDCi turbodiesel unit. With 153bhp and 385Nm of torque on tap, it shifts and even when pushed hard it doesn't get particularly noisy. It's economical too – combined mpg is a very respectable 42.2 and the Sport emits 178g/km of CO2. It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox – and it's so slick it feels as good as the 'box you get in a Fiesta.

What's the spec like?

While the engine may not have been tweaked, the exterior has. The Blue Oval made quite a name for itself with the previous version of the Transit by offering it Sport guise. Builders up and down the country loved it – and this new version is no different. It's available in black, red, white with those all-important contrasting stripes, and to add to the macho image, Sport Vans come with an extra lip to the front bumper, side skirts, wider arches, tasty alloys with fat tyre and a different rear bumper. Inside there's part-leather, Ford's clever Sync media system, a reversing camera and sat-nav. It really looks the business and prices kick off at £26,271.

Any rivals?

There aren't not too many. If you want a sporty van Volkswagen will gladly sell you one of its Transporter Sportlines but it's more than £5,000 dearer. There's also the Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport and Sport X models – the latter is more expensive and neither look as good as the Ford in our opinion.

Ford Transit Custom Sport Van

Ford Transit Custom Sport Van

What's it like to drive?

From the outside and inside, the Transit Custom looks like a van has crashed into a Ford Focus. And, funnily enough, the car-like references don't stop there. The Transit Custom Sport Van is tremendous fun to drive. The steering is nicely-weighted, precise and offers some great feedback, and the handling is tight and accurate (when the van is unladen) and the engine punchy and refined. Apart from the high driving position, you'd think you were in a large Ford not a van. The only bad thing is the slightly harsh ride – but that's the pay-off for oversized alloys.

The AOL Cars verdict

It's unusual to find a van with such a sense of humour – and only Ford could really offer this so successfully. The Sport is a van that delivers all you'd want from a vehicle like this but throws a bit of desirability into the mix as well. It's not for the shy or retiring though – and probably wouldn't work if you want to give off a highly-professional image of your company. But if this doesn't matter, the Sport Van is probably one of the best vans around. Really.

The knowledge

Model: Ford Transit Custom Sport Van
Price: £26,271
Engine: 2.2-litre, turbocharged diesel
Power: 153bhp, 385Nm
Max speed: 98mph
0-60mph: 12.4 seconds
MPG: 42.2mpg
Emissions: 178g/km