Ford Transit Custom
Apart from my already stated bias toward the Ford because it has a properly spelt name, I do have to admit to being rather impressed with the little Transit when it first lobbed onto the Australian market.
In fact I’m more perplexed that Ford doesn’t sell more of them.
The Transit name was once a huge presence on the Aussie lcv market, yet in sales terms these days it’s not exactly setting the world on fire.
The Transit Custom uses a 2.2 litre turbo-diesel engine that makes 92kW and a decent 350Nm from 1450rpm.
Like its other European competitor the Trafic, the Ford is only available in 6-speed manual form. And like the Renault, the Transit is also front-wheel-drive.
Our SWB Custom had 5.95 cubic metres of room in the back and could carry a payload of 1,032kg.
It will also tow a maximum braked trailer load of 2,500kg.
The Transit is available with only one sliding door on the left, and is equipped with barn doors at the back.
There’s enough room for an Aussie pallet between the wheel arches but as with the competition, not through the side door.
The Ford comes with a pretty decent array of standard kit, including 6-airbags, the full suite of electronic stability gizmos to stop you crashing and trailer sway control. Again, to stop you crashing your trailer.
Our test vehicle was fitted with the $1500.00 City pack which adds parking sensors and a reverse camera to the parcel carter.
Another nifty standard feature is the flip up roof racks which are rated to 130kg.
And like the Renault there’s also a flip up flap in the cargo bay bulkhead to allow long items to be loaded though into the storage bin under the passenger seat. This means that long skinny objects up to 3 metres long can be poked through the bulkhead.
On stepping into the Transit, you are greeted by an interior that will be familiar to anyone who has sat in a new Ford vehicle.
Controls and layout are all Ford global family and have a car-like feel to the layout. The Transit also uses Ford’s Sync multi-media system, which will also call 000 in the advent of a severe accident.
A lidded storage tray with 12-volt outlet sits above the analogue instrument cluster.
A handy cup holder sits beside it within easy reach and a good-sized bottle holder sits off to right of the steering column.
The middle seat also flips down into quite a usable console. There’s lots of smart, usable storage in the Transit.
The 2.2-litre turbo diesel has the lowest power output of all the vans in this comparison yet driving them all back to back you’d be hard pressed to notice it.
Peak torque comes on tap at a relatively low 1450-2000rpm which has the little Ford pulling quite well from a standstill loaded or empty.
The 6-speed manual has an easy shift that’s light in the hand.
On the open road or around town the Transit is a very pleasant little vehicle to drive.
The Duratorq engine is a smooth and reasonably quiet powerplant that delivers grunt in a smooth usable way.
In fact the Transit is really quite a zippy little number.
The Ford Transit Custom has a list price of $37,490, add another $1500 for the City Pack. The Transit is also covered by Ford’s 3-year, 100,000km warranty.
Engine: 2.2-litre 4 cylinder turbo-diesel.
Power: 92kW/ 350Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Capacity: 5.95 cubic metres
Picking a winner
If space isn’t your final frontier then it’s hard to go past the iLoad as a business proposition.
The availability of a torque converter auto widens the appeal of the Hyundai for fleet customers, and what it lacks in flair it makes up for in understated functionality.
Image aside, it really is an enjoyable little van to drive.
The Toyota HiAce is a perplexing vehicle, it really does feel ancient in comparison to the others.
Yet it remains the biggest selling van in this market segment, with the iLoad a close second.
I can only put this down to the Toyota’s image of durability and reliability as it really is outclassed by virtually all others from behind the wheel.
Trying to pick the better van between the Transit and the Trafic, however, is a tougher ask.
It’s like trying to decide which is the healthiest glazed donut.
Both vehicles are virtually neck a neck on drivability and appointments.
The Transit gets brownie points on the standard safety kit front.
But from a business perspective the Renault has a pretty attractive warranty 200,000km over three years versus Ford’s 100,000km over the same period.
Plus Renault’s claimed fuel figures are marginally better that the Ford’s, 6.2l/100km versus Ford’s 7.1l/100km.
Both the Ford and the Renault are seriously hamstrung by the lack of a full automatic transmission.
While Europe’s preference for stick shift vehicles remains, it’s not likely that we’ll see an auto in either of these vans anytime soon. Both manual transmissions, however, are excellent to operate.
The iLoad’s long warranty and capped price servicing regime also make it an attractive proposition. Most commercial operators however, will burn up warranty kilometres before they reach the 5-year warranty expiration. And it’s a great van to operate.
If you can handle the lack of space in the back and are after an auto this is your machine.
A long wheelbase iLoad, if it existed, would be a huge boon to Hyundai locally. But if you want more space then I’d recommend reacquainting yourself with a gearstick.
Out of this bunch, both the Transit and the Trafic are excellent vans to drive with levels of equipment, comfort and safety equivalent to most family cars.