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Ford Australia is finally rolling out an automatic transmission option on front-wheel drive versions of its Transit and Transit Custom vans, addressing a major impediment to local sales success.

The updated Transits also get a new 2.0-litre EcoBlue turbo-diesel engine in place of the old 2.2, with more power and torque but lower fuel use emissions, meeting Euro 6 requirements.

The revised 2.0-litre diesel engine makes 96kW and 385Nm in the Transit Custom (up 4kW/35Nm over the outgoing Euro 5 2.2) but cuts fuel use by 11 per cent. In the larger Transit FWD 350L models it makes 125kW/405Nm (up 11kW/20Nm).

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Gearboxes include the familiar six-speed manual or the new six-speed torque-converter auto for an extra $2800.

Auto sales are growing in Australia, and for many brands form the majority of sales. Companies with manual-only Euro vans, such as Ford (Transit) and Renault (Trafic, which now has an auto coming), have therefore been missing out.

“This expansion positions Transit Custom to compete in 85 per cent of the medium van segment compared to 34 per cent, giving van consumers even greater choice,” Ford claims.

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The Transit 350E and 470E rear-drive models, plus the RWD bus and cab chassis models, will retain the old 2.2 engine and manual-only gearbox for the time being, however.

Ford Australia has also been able to extend service intervals to 12-months or 30,000km — up 15,000km — to reduce downtime. This complements the extended three-year/200,000km factory warranty.

The new 2.0L EcoBlue Ford Transit and Transit Custom vehicles are also fitted as standard with a crosswind assist system that applies braking on one side to negate wind gusts against the slab-sided van. Mercedes has a similar system on the Vito.

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Other running changes for the ‘MY17.25’ Transit include a new optional City Nav Pack that adds Sync 3 to the 350L FWD model, bringing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along. No other Transit variants offer Sync 3 at this stage, though.

Furthermore, all Transit Custom and Transit models benefit from a larger reversing camera display that’s now located on the audio screen rather than the rear-view mirror.

Additionally, the standard Multi-Function Display screen size of the Transit and Transit Custom featuring the new 2.0L EcoBlue engine will be upgraded to a 4.0-inch TFT colour screen. The 2.2-fitted models keep the old setup.

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Ford Australia also claims that you’ll be able to order the Transit and Transit Custom in up to 100 different colours. Renault has seen great success locally with its bright green Trafic.

The updated Transit can be ordered now, but full stock doesn’t arrive until June. This means now might be a good time to get a deal on runout 2.2 stock, by the way.

Base pricing for the new 2.0 is up by $1700, as detailed below, with the range now kicking off at $39,690 before on-road costs.

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Transit Custom sales are up by about 12 per cent this year to 276 units, or 5.6 per cent market share. This puts it behind the Toyota HiAce, Hyundai iLoad, Renault Trafic and Volkswagen Transporter, but ahead of the Mercedes-Benz Vito.

The larger Transit models are easily outsold by the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Renault Master.

 

2017 Ford Transit pricing (before on-road costs):

Transit Custom 290S FWD 2.0 manual $39,690
Transit Custom 290S FWD 2.0 auto $42,440
Transit Custom 340L FWD 2.0 manual $41,690
Transit Custom 340L FWD 2.0 auto $44,440

Transit 350L RWD 2.2 manual $47,860
Transit 350L FWD 2.0 auto $51,380
Transit 350E RWD 2.2 manual $51,180
Transit 470E RWD 2.2 manual $54,180

Transit Single Cab Chassis 470E RWD 2.2 manual $52,680
Transit Bus RWD 2.2 manual $57,680

MORE: Transit Custom news, reviews, comparisons and videos
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