Road Test and Review – Ford Transit Custom MS-RT
The Ford Transit Custom has, since its introduction back in 2012 regularly been the best selling van in the UK, and at times the most popular vehicle sold in total, including cars. Refreshed in 2018, it retains style combined with practicality, and is the van of choice for many fleets as well as the small business owner.
For a number of years now, Pontypool based company MS-RT have used creativity inspired by their 30 years of motorsport heritage to produce their own version of the Custom. Initially only available from a number of selected Ford dealers, the van is now an official Ford product, and can be purchased from any Transit dealer. With strong visual impact combined with a customised cab interior, the van is aimed at image conscious small businesses together with the leisure user who may previously have been inclined towards the Volkswagen Transporter Sportline.
The base van is a Transit Custom in either single or double cab form, broadly as tested here back in 2018. It arrives at MS-RT in the already high Limited trim level together with some options. Included are the latest Sync 3 entertainment system with satellite navigation, dual side loading doors, loadspace lighting, parking sensors, reversing camera, heated windscreen, heated seats and upgraded Bi-Xenon headlights with integrated daytime running lights. The van comes with the highest engine output available, currently a 170PS version of the Ford 2.0 litre EcoBlue unit, although the test van had the now discontinued 185PS option. 6-speed manual or automatic gearboxes are offered.
Externally, the MS-RT conversion includes a full front bumper and grille replacement with integrated factory fog lamps, extreme front diffuser, wide body arch extensions, sills, rear diffuser and rear spoiler. A twin sports exhaust system and MS-RT exterior branding together with custom made 18” anthracite alloy wheels complete the makeover.
In the cab, the leather and suede seats are embossed with the MS-RT logo, and the customised steering wheel features carbon fibre inlays. MS-RT logos feature on the dash, and on the floor mats. The test van had the optional Maxhaust exhaust soundbox fitted.
The van supplied was in double cab, L2 form and in this configuration provides a perfect solution for those who wish to use the van as a work and leisure vehicle, or even purely as stylish transport for a family who get involved in camping, cycling or other outdoor activities.
Finished in a vivid blue (other, equally bold colour options are available) the Custom MS-RT turned heads wherever it went. The visual aspect is stunning enough but, for those who wish to ‘engage’ with the public at a higher level, switching on the Maxhaust soundbox (by holding down the cruise control ‘cancel’ button for 4 seconds) generally has the desired effect, particularly when turned up to maximum via the smartphone app…
I’ve covered the driving aspects of the Custom previously in a number of tests, but, it remains an absolute dream to drive. It’s extremely comfortable and ‘just feels right’. Steering, handling and ride are more akin to a large car than a commercial vehicle and there is an air of quality in everything it does. Noise and vibration are minimal, and performance from the 185PS engine was, as you’d expect, more than adequate. Although the 6-speed auto box behaved perfectly, competitor vehicles offering 8 or 9 ratios are now smoother in operation than this Ford unit.
It’s not cheap, the price as tested being over £52,000 + VAT. But, with excellent residual values due to a thriving second hand market being undersupplied, the total cost of ownership should be reasonable. For those who want arguably the best medium van on the market but who are prepared to pay a substantial premium for a stunning visual perception the Custom MS-RT must tick all the boxes. Although totally impartial, I’ve loved the Custom ever since I drove a pre-production prototype in Europe over 10 years ago and this conversion is the icing on a very desirable cake. It’s one of the very few test vehicles I’ve not wanted to give back…