After five years, popular Ford van gets new nose, interior, engine and technology

After five years, popular Ford van gets new nose, interior, engine and technology

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Ford of Europe has updated its popular Transit Custom van line, launched in 2012, with changes including a new interior inspired by the latest Fiesta and reflecting recently announced changes to the EcoSport SUV.

The outgoing model became the top selling van in its segment in 2015 and contributed towards a record sales year in 2016 in the UK, and continues to lead the market this year with 86,400 sold September year to date.

Delivery of the updated model line starts early 2018.

Powered by the automaker's EcoBlue two-litre diesel engine, the van has been re-engineered with new features and capabilities including a new ECOnetic variant delivering improved fuel efficiency and 148g/km CO2 emissions.

New technology includes Intelligent Speed Assist.

"Transit Custom has been a runaway success since it was introduced, and this new version raises the game once more," said Hans Schep, general manager, commercial vehicles, Ford of Europe. "We have listened carefully to our customers and delivered a one-tonne van that is even more stylish, even more productive, and packed with smart features."

A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version will be built from 2019. It targets a zero emission range of about 30 miles with the EcoBoost one litre petrol engine as a range extender. Trials with fleet customers in London begin in December.

Ford announced in August an increase in production capacity for Transit, Transit Custom and Tourneo Custom models to satisfy growing customer demand. The $52 million investment at the Ford Otosan joint venture in Turkey will expand production at the Kocaeli manufacturing site by 40,000 units to 330,000 vehicles per year.

Available for the 300 Series short wheelbase van, the new ECOnetic has the 105PS diesel engine with a unique calibration and auto stop start, low rolling resistance tyres, acceleration control and a fixed 62mph speed limiter.

The front end has been restyled with a high mounted trapezoidal grille and slim headlamps. The latest lighting technologies are available, with high series models featuring distinctive new LED daytime running lights and HID Xenon headlamps.

The cabin interior is completely new, with an instrument panel based on the Fiesta's. Ford calls it "an attractive, user centric layout that is influenced by consumer interactions with smart devices and tablets".

The new design provides claimed class leading interior stowage, with up to 25 litres of space in the instrument panel alone, including three open bins on its upper surface with space for clipboards or mobile devices and glove box stowage capable of storing hanging A4 files in the lower closed compartment.

Further new features include a fold-out cup holder beneath the gear lever, adding to the cup holders and two litre bottle holders at each end of the instrument panel. The door panels have also been completely redesigned for improved stowage and usability, with three large stowage spaces and a new grab handle integrated with the decorative door trim.

For the driver, new displays and control panels have been designed for enhanced ergonomics and ease of use, and high-series models feature a floating, tablet inspired, eight inch colour touchscreen with SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system that can be operated with pinch and swipe gestures.

For vehicles not equipped with eight-inch or four-inch displays, the MyFord Dock in the centre of the instrument panel provides a location for drivers to mount, store and charge their smartphone, MP3 player or satellite navigation system. USB and 12-volt power sockets are located in the upper stowage bin in front of the driver, and alongside the gear lever, for easy device charging.

New seat designs feature revised foam padding and geometry for optimised support, while trim materials have been completely renewed throughout the cabin, with a focus on outstanding quality, durability and appearance.

Advanced technology and driver assistance features

Ford says the Transit Custom is the first commercial vehicle to offer Intelligent Speed Assist which enables automatic adjustment of maximum vehicle speed to remain within legal limits, using Traffic Sign Recognition system to detect speed limit signs. Drivers activate Intelligent Speed Assist via steering wheel controls to set a maximum vehicle speed. The system uses a windscreen-mounted camera to monitor road signs and, when the speed limit is lower than that maximum set speed, slows the vehicle as required.

The new model is the first Ford van in Europe to offer Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert. The Transit Custom introduces a new Variable Rear Range feature, which provides drivers with an earlier warning if it detects that the passing vehicle is approaching with a higher closing speed. The new model also has the latest generation sensors, with increased range and improved capabilities that include the ability to detect motorcycles.

Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection emergency braking system introduced in 2016 is now capable of detecting pedestrians at night when they are illuminated by the vehicle's headlamps.

Lane Keeping Alert, Driver Alert, Auto High Beam, Rear View Camera, Adaptive Cruise Control and Side Wind Stabilisation carry over.

The latest specification also introduces a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and a claimed unique to segment rear air suspension system on Kombi M1 models.

Customers can also specify a new Upfitter Interface Module, which allows aftermarket conversions and accessories to access data from the vehicle's electrical systems so that they can be operated and controlled more efficiently using real time vehicle data.

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