Ford’s best-selling van range the Transit Custom has been upgraded with a new design along with engine power performance changes and some improved performance features.

There are electric versions on the way while there are four diesel engine variants built around a 2.0 turbo-diesel engine (rated either 110, 120, 136 & 150bhp) that is clean and powerful enough to deliver up to 2.8 tonnes in towing rating.

Ford has linked up with Volkswagen for the new Transit Custom in a similar way that the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok are connected.

The result of this Ford and Volkswagen van manufacturing partnership is that Ford will produce both vans with the new Volkswagen Transporter, due later this year.

Ford Transit Custom 2024

Both vans will be built at the Ford Otosan factory in Turkey. The aim of the partnership between Ford and Volkswagen is to lower costs, enabling the mid-size van to better compete in a crowded segment.

This is despite the fact that they both are close to the top of the European market in this van segment.

The first impression of the Ford Transit Custom is that it has more modern styling from the outside and appears to be wider. On closer examination, there is little difference relative to the previous generation model, which will still be available for another while.

Ford Transit Custom 2024

For this reason, I’ve compared both in the table below so that you can make an assessment of the changes. The most obvious change relates to the styling while there are improvements in engine performance, fuel economy and towing ability. The new van is marginally more spacious in terms of dimensions, while the overall capacity on a like for like comparison remains the same at 6.8 cubic metres.

Vans are for working, whether it’s on the farm or in agribusiness. The Trend 300 L2 version of the Transit Custom that I drove is a mid-range model and there are plenty of variants and options to choose from. For this reason, I’ve looked at a comparison from the previous model, which is a little outdated when you see them side by side.

From a driving perspective, this new Transit Custom is a very comfortable van to work and live in. There are some new features that make driving easier, including a bigger and more angled display screen. The screen has some updated features and it’s easy to get comfortable with it.

There is a new steering wheel, called a ‘squircle’-shaped design that makes for easier cross-cab access and is comfortable to use. The cabin floor is flat and there is a new electric handbrake included, giving less clutter.

Ford Transit Custom 2024

Seat adjustment was good and combine that with large mirrors that are easy to adjust and you’re out on the road and comfortable with the new van. The van is available with six drive modes to choose from (Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery Road, Tow/Haul and Trail). Ford claims that this tailors throttle response to steering and gear-change behaviour. Each drive mode is claimed to be uniquely tuned to make driving easier, while these features were more subtle than obvious.

There will be automatic drive versions on the way, and they can be specified with a mechanical limited slip differential option that claims to improve vehicle handling by automatically transferring engine torque in low-grip conditions to the wheel with the most traction. This feature could be more useful for those pulling trailers, especially in poor road and field conditions. None of these features were on the test van.

The test van came powered by a 2.0 litre turbo-diesel engine that delivered road performance with slight increase in both engine power and torque compared to the model that it replaces. High gear driving was fine on the motorways, but too high for some of the more challenging rural roads with steep hills ahead. Fuel economy is only marginally better, and while the rated figure is 7.2l/100km or 13.9km/litre my 900km test drive yielded a figure that was 20% lower.

This new van has a 2.5 tonnes towing capacity, while the larger models can go as high as 2.8 tonnes. The previous model, still on the Ford price list, is more impressive at 2.8 tonnes, so why the change?

The load space in the L2 version is rated at 6.8 cubic metres, unchanged from the previous model. That’s despite the fact that the load area is marginally longer and so too is the width between the wheel arches. It appears that the load area is slightly lower and hence the unchanged overall capacity figure.

There are lots of clever ideas in terms of the van’s software and connectivity tools. How much of these will be used by the day-to-day van driver or the farmer who opts for a van in place of a more expensive 4x4 commercial, is hard to gauge. For reasons of comfort and ease of driving, this new Ford Transit Custom has plenty to offer, while in strict performance terms there is little extra to offer.

Entry prices for the like-for-like L2 grade van with little in terms of extras, shows a significant price increase. The entry price at €38,105 is €7,000 more expensive in the Republic of Ireland and that’s a hefty price lift by any comparison. Northern Ireland prices start at £37,600 for the same specification van.

Understanding van specifications and hence prices is no longer simple arithmetic, but what’s clear with the new Transit Custom price is that prices are on the increase. While the aim of the Ford and Volkswagen partnership with Transit Custom and Volkswagen Transporter is to lower costs, it doesn’t appear to be about lowering prices to the customer.

New Land Cruiser

gets closer

Ford Transit Custom 2024

Toyota dealers in Ireland got a preview of the new Land Cruiser last week, but there are no prices being quoted just yet. Toyota Ireland expects to have the 2024 Land Cruiser available by the end of 2024 and has confirmed that a model of the new version will be in Ireland for Ploughing 2024. That’s something to look forward to.