We put a lot of miles in over the summer months, there are so many events and beaches 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 active user market and have kindly leant one to us for a few months to test it out. And test it we have, the Ford Transit Custom has been clocking up the miles and taking us to test locations and events all over Europe this summer. If you want to see it in the flesh come and say hello at the Scottish Windfest this weekend…
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 kites and surfboards as well, we’ve even managed to get a couple of 10ft SUP boards in the back! 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 kiters and all their gear to get around with comfort.
The Ford Transit Custom is the perfect size vehicle for the kiter with a family, leave the seats in and ferry the kids around all week and then sling your kites and mates in the back when you get the time to go on some surfing adventures. The added versatility of the extra seating should make it easy to swing past the decision maker in the family unit, 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 kites and kids 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.
Over the summer we have driven to beaches all over the UK and in France too, there has 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. The parking sensors are brilliant and something that really comes in useful with a LWB vehicle like this, it makes it so much easier to manoeuvre into tight spots.
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 a hippy on his way to a climate convention. 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 the beach in order to catch the tide 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 the summer we averaged 30.9 MPG over numerous journeys, both long and short, not bad for a fully loaded van that hasn’t been hanging about…
The new Ford Transit Custom has certainly made the summer 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 kiters prefer a van to sling their gear in at the end of a session, 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.
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time with the Ford Transit Custom, and hope we can make it a regular part of the team next year. We fill it up with wet and slaty kite gear, and it laps it up and keeps us comfortable too. The savings on fuel have been tangible, and in this economic climate that isn’t something to be sniffed at!