Ford SA is about to move into the van/minibus market, with the launch of the new Transit Custom one-tonne van and Tourneo Custom eight-seater minibus in the first quarter of 2013.
This is a whole new generation of Transits, having nothing in common with the box-like Transit of the 1960s and '70s.
The front treatment is ultra-modern, with smooth steeply sloping lines curving down to a familiar Focus/Fiesta grille, set way higher than it is on the cars, making the new Transit look more like a high-speed train than a van.
The rest of it is, frankly, a box.
There is just so much a stylist, no matter how talented, can do with a van.
Both Transit and Tourneo versions will be available in short and long-wheelbase format, all powered by 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi turbodiesels, which may lack the sheer punch and evocative soundtrack of the erstwhile three-litre Essex V6 but will also lack its notorious thirst.
Although many enjoyed the basic functionalism of the old Transit's cab, that was probably the best thing you could say about it.
The new Transit has a modern, driver-focused cockpit with lots of clever nooks and crannies to stash the remote gate-openers, gizmos, gadgets and, above all, paperwork that seem to afflict all commercial drivers in the computer age.
Never underestimate the importance of being able to see exactly where the front of your truck is.
It also has a huge glass area and what Ford coyly calls “a wide range of driver assistance technologies”.
The Tourneo Custom, whether in short or long-wheelbase flavour, seats up to eight in three rows. Its high-opening tailgate allows easy access for stowing big travel bags, while the second and third rows can be folded, stowed, shifted and even turned round in more than 30 configurations, depending on exactly what your passengers are going to be doing back there (quiet, Cyril!).
South African-spec Transit and Tourneo Customs will be built at Ford's Otosan plant in Kocaeli, Turkey.