The jobs I have to do – Ford Transit Custom

In Car Reviews, Ford by Neil Lyndon

“All cars should be like this,” I thought, as I sat behind the wheel of the new Ford Transit Custom. Everything in this cab has been meticulously thought out, without a trace of flummery, for the driver’s benefit.

Neil Lyndon reviews the Ford Transit Custom.
First of all, take the seating position. It’s like a bus or a lorry. You sit in exactly the position the osteopath would recommend if this seat is going to be your place of work for eight hours a day. Your back is as upright as a tree and firmly supported at the base of the spine. The cushions are comfortable without being at all squishy. The eight-way adjustable seat lets you find a position that puts the steering wheel precisely where your hands would find it with eyes closed if you rested both elbows just in front of a perpendicular with your shoulders. The armrest is fully adjustable to achieve that effect.

What’s not to like? This is one seriously brilliant vehicle. Especially when we get round to the thing it does best – which is to lug stuff.
The pedals are almost directly under your knees so there’s no stretching to place your feet on them. You could drive a continuous 10 hours in this vehicle and never get a twinge of shin splints. You’d get out at the end ready for more tomorrow.

A panel van, by its very nature, affords no rear three-quarter visibility at all, but the socking great wing mirrors on the Transit could double as a solar observatory for the panoramic view they give behind.

The cup-holders are equally uncompromising. To the right of the steering wheel, exactly where the driver can find it without extending a muscle, is a cavernous pot of a cup-holder that could take a pint glass or one of those jumbo containers of soft drinks you get at the cinema. Other cup and bottle holders are dotted around the door panels and fascia for the benefit of the driver and the two passengers who can occupy the bench seat.

As for cubby-holes, there are as many storage slots in this cabin as you would find in a Himalayan mountaineer’s backpack. There must be half a dozen places where you could lose a copy of The Sun. Just in front of the driver, to the left of the steering-wheel, is a little slot which holds a mobile phone perfectly upright and firm enough so that you could dial on the move, and behave just like every other Transit driver on the road.

What’s not to like? This is one seriously brilliant vehicle. Especially when we get round to the thing it does best – which is to lug stuff.

My God, the quantity of tut you can pile into this Transit is beyond belief. I’ve had hi-fi boxes and busted laundry baskets and worn-out tyres and stuff too mouldy to identify piling up behind the bins at our place for months so that the entrance to our house has come to resemble nothing so much as a fly-tipping cul-de-sac. The loan of the Transit at last presented a perfect opportunity to shift the lot to the dump. Any other vehicle that boasts about its carrying capacity – such as a Range Rover, for instance – would have needed four or five trips to move it all. The Transit swallowed the whole load with two-thirds of its space gaping for more. The payload is 1117kg. Loadspace capacity is 5.4 metres. That’s like an Antonov freight plane.

Which is roughly how this skip on wheels drives, too. The best thing that can be said about the performance and the driving dynamics of the Transit is that they force you to negotiate corners as cautiously as a hedgehog. I rather enjoyed seeing the length of the tailback of cars that built up behind me when I was driving the Transit on country roads: no way was I going to try to go any faster.

There’s another quality that Transit distinctly lacks: it has zero pick-up appeal.
If you drive around in a Transit, you are making an open declaration that you have no interest in attracting women. I discovered this about 20 years ago when I was wooing the woman who is now my wife. On our earliest outings, she studiedly took no notice of the different test cars in which I turned up. A BMW 3 Series Convertible? No interest. A Porsche 911 Turbo? Not a flicker.

Then, one night, I turned up at her house to pick her up in a Transit. “Are you expecting me to go out in this?” she sniffed. “If you’d warned me, I would have worn overalls.”

She didn’t once get into the Transit I borrowed last week.

The pleasure was all mine.

Van reviewed: Ford Transit Custom – £20,481 on the road, £22,231 as tested Combined Fuel Economy 44.8mpg CO2 emissions 287g/km Max Power 100PS Maximum Torque 310Nm Engine 2.2-litre TDCI Transmission 6-speed manual

  • Lack of flummery

  • Visibility

  • Load ability

  • Pick-up appeal

About the author

Neil Lyndon


Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK's national stage for 40 years, writing for every "quality" newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 - the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.

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