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    Ford Transit Custom 2021 review: Sport 320S SWB GVM test


    Daily driver score

    3.9/5

    Tradies score

    3.9/5
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    The Ford Transit is a light commercial vehicle that has always had a good reputation as a work van.

    The Custom Sport 320S* is a nice looking variant in the Transit line-up that builds on the range's rep. (* In this case, the ‘320’ stands for 3200kg gross vehicle mass (GVM) – even though this vehicle's GVM is actually listed as 3100kg. The ‘S’ stands for short-wheelbase.)

    This van is engineered to carry a load onboard, perform as a mobile office, and still offer enhanced drivability. So, how does it perform with a decent load onboard?

    Read on.

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    Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

    The Ford Transit Custom Sport 320S SWB (short wheelbase, low roof) has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBlue turbo-diesel engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and is front-wheel drive.

    Price as tested, at time of writing, was $49,590.

    Standard features include an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, partial leather seat trim, 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated driver and passenger seats, Sports interior trim (gloss black IP insert, chrome vent surrounds), telescopic and tilt adjustable steering column, four-speaker sound system and more.

    In Sport guise the van has body-coloured bumper/rear bumper/bodyside moulding. (image: Marcus Craft) In Sport guise the van has body-coloured bumper/rear bumper/bodyside moulding. (image: Marcus Craft)

    Driver-assist tech includes AEB (with pedestrian detection), blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, tyre pressure monitoring, side wind stabilisation, trailer sway control and more.

    The exterior is frozen white paint (no additional cost), and it has 17-inch machined alloy wheels with a steel spare.

    Other exterior paint options are Orange Glow and Blue Metallic (no additional cost for either), while Magnetic, Agate Black, and Moondust Silver are all prestige colours and as such incur an additional charge of $650.

    Standard features include an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. (image: Marcus Craft) Standard features include an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. (image: Marcus Craft)

    Is there anything interesting about its design?

    In Sport guise the van has body-coloured bumper/rear bumper/bodyside moulding, body-coloured mirrors, sports body kit (front/rear), and its eye-catching body stripe/sport decals.

    This low-roof, short-wheelbase variant has a pleasingly streamlined appearance, especially when compared to some bulkier, long-wheelbase stablemates, and its low-key cool exterior helps it draw an admiring glance or two, especially from other van drivers.

    Its low-key cool exterior helps it draw an admiring glance or two. (image: Marcus Craft) Its low-key cool exterior helps it draw an admiring glance or two. (image: Marcus Craft)

    What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

    How practical is the space inside?

    This variant is 4973mm long, 2272mm wide and 2000mm high. Kerb weight is listed as 2054kg.

    The interior for driver and passenger is designed for long work days: the partial leather trim seats are comfortable, the plastic dash and other surfaces are durable, storage spaces are numerous and easy to access, and the touchscreen unit is simple enough to operate while you're on the move.

    There are two USB ports, three 12V Sockets (interior and rear cargo area), as well as glove box, dash-top storage shelves and recesses, two cupholders, a two-litre bottle holder in each door, door storage pockets, and under-seat stowage compartment on the passenger side.

    This van has a listed maximum payload of 1046kg, a braked towing capacity of 1800kg and a gross vehicle mass of 3100kg. (image: Marcus Craft) This van has a listed maximum payload of 1046kg, a braked towing capacity of 1800kg and a gross vehicle mass of 3100kg. (image: Marcus Craft)

    Load space dimensions are listed as 2554mm long (from the rear door to the bulkhead, at floor level), 3037mm long (that includes the load-through hatch in the bulkhead), 1775mm wide, 1392mm wide (between the wheel arches), and 1406mm high (from load floor to roof).

    The six-cubic-metre load area is well-fitted out for work duties with a kerbside load door, 180°-opening rear twin barn door with window, eight tie-down points, protective wood panelling on the interior walls and doors, load-floor lining, and a load-area compartment LED light.

    If you need to carry around gear that is longer than the van's load space (say, for instance, long lengths of timber, metal or even pipes), you can use the van's three roof racks (130kg-capacity) which can be flipped upright from their flat, stowed-away position and then locked into place to cop their burden.

    The load space is 1406mm high (from load floor to roof). (image: Marcus Craft) The load space is 1406mm high (from load floor to roof). (image: Marcus Craft)

    What's it like as a daily driver?

    When you climb into a Ford Transit, especially the Sport variant, it's easy to feel right at home because this is a user-friendly and, more importantly, comfortable van. Those factors help to make long work days in the driver's seat easier to accomplish, more so than if you were in labouring around in anyone's traditional idea of a light commercial vehicle.

    However, there's nothing of a game-changing set-up here, this van is simply a very successful combination of an unfussed engine and auto, smooth and settled ride, and the kind of quietly confident composure you might expect in a bigger vehicle.

    With a leather-wrapped telescopic- and tilt-adjustable steering wheel, and a 10-way power-adjustable heated driver's seat, replete with an arm-rest, it's supremely easy to dial-in your driving position in readiness for a long day on the road.

    It comes with heated driver and passenger seats. (image: Marcus Craft) It comes with heated driver and passenger seats. (image: Marcus Craft)

    Steering is appealingly light for hard-working hands that may have to load, unload and shift goods all day, and for a work van with an 11.8m turning circle, it always feels like a smooth easy steerer.

    Visibility is generally  good, except for  compromised rear vision. Let me explain: this style of van has a centre window in the bulkhead allowing the driver to see, via the rear view mirror, back through the load space and through the windows in the rear barn doors to the road and traffic behind it. However, where those doors meet/close together is right in the driver's line of sight. If you've ever driven this style of van, this compromised rear visibility won't really annoy you, but if you're new to the van world you'll certainly notice it. That rear-vision strife is somewhat negated by two big wing mirrors (each with a wide-angled lens in its bottom third) as those afford the driver a bit more vision along the side and a little bit to the rear of the van.

    The Sport includes eye-catching body stripe/sport decals. (image: Marcus Craft) The Sport includes eye-catching body stripe/sport decals. (image: Marcus Craft)

    What's it like for tradie use?

    This van has a listed maximum payload of 1046kg, a braked towing capacity of 1800kg and a gross vehicle mass of 3100kg.

    Our mates at IWP Training in Wollongong forklifted a 750kg weight into the van, via its 180-degree-opening rear barn doors, for us.

    As mentioned this van has a 1046kg payload, so even with 750kg in the load space, as well as the driver (me) and a bit of gear in the cabin (vehicle-recovery gear, first-aid kit, tool box etc), we were still about 150kg shy of the 320S's 3100kg GVM limit: kerb weight (2054kg) plus payload (approximately 900kg) equals 2954kg. (Remember: the key to hauling a load and/or towing legally and safely is to always keep well under your vehicle's load capacities.)

    With the load in, about three-quarters of it forward of the rear axle, the rear leaf springs compressed 40mm and the front suspension compressed 20mm.

    Our mates at IWP Training in Wollongong forklifted a 750kg weight into the van, via its 180-degree-opening rear barn doors, for us. (image: Marcus Craft) Our mates at IWP Training in Wollongong forklifted a 750kg weight into the van, via its 180-degree-opening rear barn doors, for us. (image: Marcus Craft)

    Once the van was underway, the weight barely registered.

    All of the elements that make the Ford Transit such a nice daily driver unladen are carried over when you have a considerable burden in the rear.

    The steering retains that well weighted feel, the engine and transmission are very clever, ride and handling remain composed and predictable – and all those elements combine to generally make for a stress-free driving experience.

    Engine braking is a little bit on the harsh side – only ever on steep up- or downhill sections – but it is a smaller capacity engine, so that characteristic – being forced to rev hard under load – is easy to forgive.

    The suspension – a MacPherson strut front and rear leaf-spring set-up on a solid beam axle – is quite basic, but works well, keeping everything stable and composed in a consistent way.

    This short-wheelbase variant tends to chirp front rubber under enthusiastic throttle and it’s also more likely to experience any kind of weight-transfer shift, or slight fore and aft motion with a decent load onboard. It's not a terrible characteristic but it is noticeable – this variant is simply not quite as pinned down as one of its long wheel-base stablemates.

    All of the elements that make the Ford Transit such a nice daily driver unladen are carried over when you have a considerable burden in the rear. (image: Marcus Craft) All of the elements that make the Ford Transit such a nice daily driver unladen are carried over when you have a considerable burden in the rear. (image: Marcus Craft)

    How much fuel does it consume?

    This van has an official fuel-consumption of 7.2L/100km – that’s on a combined cycle.

    Our fuel-consumption figure on test, which takes into account our loaded loop, was 7.4L/100km.

    It has a 72-litre fuel tank and a 21-litre AdBlue tank.

    What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

    The Ford Transit Custom Sport has a five-star ANCAP safety rating from Ford Transit testing in 2012.

    It has six airbags (driver, front passenger, front side curtain and front side seat) as well as driver-assist tech including AEB (with pedestrian detection), blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, tyre pressure monitoring, side wind stabilisation, trailer sway control and more.

    What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

    The 2021.25MY Transit Custom line-up of light commercial vehicles has a five-year / unlimited kilometre warranty.

    Maintenance is scheduled for every 12 months/30,000km and the first four services (four years/120,000km) are capped at $399 a pop.

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    The Ford Transit Custom Sport 320S has a rock-solid reputation as a work vehicle, and in Sport guise it is even better. No wonder it won our TradieGuide Van of the Year.

    Sure, the platform is ageing a bit, but this van does its job so well that, even when it's put under plenty of pressure, it manages to maintain its comfortable composure.

    As a light commercial vehicle, this van is such an impressive combination of ergonomics, functionality and convenience that it makes a damn good total package.

    $49,090

    Based on new car retail price

    VIEW PRICING & SPECS

    Daily driver score

    3.9/5

    Tradies score

    3.9/5
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    Price Guide

    $49,090

    Based on new car retail price

    Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.