Ford’s Transit van is an icon in Britain, mainland Europe and many other parts of the world but has been absent from South Africa for 39 years – now it’s back, the latest model dealing a whole new hand in the game of moving goods and services.It and its eight-seater sister bus, the Transit Tourneo Custom, were launched this week in Gauteng, though the commercial was not on show or available to be driven. Nevertheless, comprehensive information and images of the vehicle were supplied.AMBIENTE SPEC - AND A SPORTFor sure the Transit, mainstay of tradesmen, builders, delivery companies and even bank-robbers as getaway wheels, will find a lot of takers in South Africa with the latest tech – a 2.2 TDCi Duratorq diesel engine under the bonnet of the five variants available – one of them a Sport model.Image galleryEach is delivered as standard to Ambiente spec level – a name familiar to anybody who knows anything about Ford products – but orderable options include metallic paint (R1150), an audio entertainment pack that includes cruise control (R5050) and an airbag for the front passenger (R1370).Here’s the tuning list for the Transit Custom...The 74kW model has 310Nm of torque from 1300rpm, the 92kW 350Nm from 1450rpm and the Sport gets the only 114kW version with 385Nm coming on song at 1600rpm. Ford lists sub-7.3 litres/100km for each along with 192g/km of CO2 emissions while the Sport, surprisingly, is capable of 6.6/100 with only 174g/km of CO2 leaving the tail pipe....and the base price list:2.2 TDCi Ambiente Low swb – R302 7002.2 TDCi Ambiente Hi swb CVT – R306 4002.2 TDCi Ambiente low lwb – R309 7002.2 TDCi Ambiente Hi lwb – R317 4002.2 TDCi Sport swb – R364 600Ford SA says the all-new Transit Custom has created a completely new generation of one-ton commercial vehicles "offering businesses an unmatched combination of style, driver appeal and functionality" with "a stylish and modern exterior, car-like interior and outstanding driving dynamics."'STYLISH, MODERN VAN'Gavin Golightly, Ford SA’s marketing manager, added: “The Transit has reached legendary status in Europe for its durability and versatility while remaining efficient and affordable to run.“It’s a stylish, modern van that customers will be proud to have in their driveway yet it’s up for the tasks required in this segment. We’ve given the vehicle a stylish, modern appearance that will be appreciated by businesses of all sizes.”The van shares its running gear and chassis with the Tourneo bus, which means two body sizes: a short-wheelbase (well, short if you call an overall body length of 4.97m short) and a long-wheelbase that’s 5.34m long overall. The six cubic metres (6.8 in the lwb) load-bay, accessed by a sliding door each side and a giant vertically split tail door, can take three standard pallets crossways.Ford says the size and ease of access offers more space and more convenience than any of its rivals. There’s also a load-through hatch in the cabin bulkhead to accommodate ladders, piping, gutters, whatever, of up to three metres in length to be loaded.Longer loads can be taken by the (optional) three-arch roof rack that fits “seamlessly” into the roof panelling and, Ford says, unburdened the van will still fit into most parking garages.DRIVING AIDSThere’s a floor-liner and a number of tie-down hooks and, depending on order, the Transit can be licensed for 600-1400kg payloads.As I said, I didn’t get to drive a unit, but if the ride quality of the Tourneo bus is a guide, then the transport boss is going to have some happy drivers – helped further by the smart stowage for bottles, phones and papers and a multi-way adjustable driving seat.Possible model-specific driving aids include Ford’s SYNC voice-activated phone connectivity, lane-keeping alerts, auto-dipping headlights and hill-start assistance – not, of course, that any decent driver would need it.There’s also electronic stability and traction control and – another comfort for the driver – the Transit Custom has a five-star EuroNCAP collision protection rating.Though the latest Transit is brand-new on the market, it’s already travelled a fair way: durability testing, Ford says, covered the equivalent of 55-million km, including at least 400 000 with Transit customers.FOUR-YEAR WARRANTY“Key components and systems were tested to the limit,” the automaker added. “For example, the front doors went through 250 000 slam cycles - three times more punishing than Ford’s equivalent car test.”The Transit Custom is delivered with a four-year or 120 000km comprehensive warranty.Service intervals are 15 000km and a service plan is an option.