Ford Transit Custom Nugget review

Category: Camper van

Ford camper van is good value but not quite as plush as the VW California

Ford Transit Custom Nugget
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget front cornering
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior dashboard
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior bed
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior infotainment
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget front left static
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget front left static
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget left static
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget rear door open
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget bike rack
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior kitchen
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior bed
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget front cornering
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior dashboard
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior bed
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior infotainment
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget front left static
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget front left static
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget left static
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget rear door open
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget bike rack
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior kitchen
  • Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior bed
Transit Nugget
Star rating


What Car? says...

Today we’re going to talk about nuggets. Now, don’t get excited, because for all that the word evokes tender, crunchy, deep-fried deliciousness, we’re here to discuss a different kind of nugget. The Ford Transit Custom Nugget camper van.

It’s an odd name, granted, but the underlying concept is far from abnormal. Take one Ford Transit Custom van, subject it to a conversion by the renowned camper van gurus at Westfalia, then sell it through Ford dealers with a full manufacturer warranty.

Makes for a fairly mouthwatering proposition, doesn’t it? And it only gets better from there, because the Nugget is available in a choice of two body lengths.

The standard-wheelbase L1 model is five metres long, while the long-wheelbase L2 measures 5.3 metres (and comes with a washbasin and toilet).

Nuggets come with a choice of golden breadcrumbs or crispy batter… sorry, our minds were elsewhere. All Nuggets get a 2.0-litre diesel engine with various power outputs (128bhp, 148bhp or 168bhp), and you can have a manual or automatic gearbox.

You can add ketchup to your Transit Custom Nugget if you want to – and remove it again easily because most of the fixtures and fittings are wipe-clean.

And whether you’re the type of person who keeps it in the fridge or cupboard, you’ll be well catered for, as the Nugget gets a fairly high spec, with a full kitchenette. Indeed, it needs to, given that there are some fairly luxurious rivals in the campervan market.

The most obvious is the VW California – which has become the most default camper for many families – as well as the larger VW Grand California.

There’s also the Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo as well as manufacturer-approved conversions of the Renault Trafic and the Vauxhall Vivaro – though admittedly none shares the Nugget's appetising name.

So do you fancy a side order of Nugget? Read on through our review to find out for yourself. We’ll cover what it’s like to drive, how practical it is, and how much it’ll cost you. The only thing you won’t get is a taste test. 

Read more: How we test vans


If you’re after a camper van with the peace of mind that full manufacturer backing brings, the Ford Transit Custom Nugget is worth considering, especially if you have kids. Given the level of equipment you get, its starting price is competitive before you’ve even considered heavy discounting from Ford, including on PCP finance. However, its layout won’t work for everyone and it’s nowhere near as good to drive as a VW California, let alone our favourite camper, the Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo.

  • Keen discounts from Ford
  • Punchy EcoBlue 185 engine
  • One of the few fully equipped five-seat campers
  • Slow-witted automatic gearbox
  • Mercedes Marco Polo has a classier interior
  • Ride and handling

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

All Ford Transit Custom Nuggets are powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine, but there’s a choice of two power outputs. Opening the range is the EcoBlue 130 with 128bhp, which is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox that proves pleasant in use. Ford doesn’t provide a 0-62mph time, but let’s just say you’ll be changing down from sixth to fifth to get up particularly steep hills on the motorway.

Ford Transit Nugget image
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If you’re the kind of camper who's always mindful of the crockery in the cupboards, we’d say the entry-level engine is sufficient. If you’ve replaced your china with plastic to avoid breakages when cornering, the EcoBlue 185 offers more than ample performance for spirited driving (as far as mobile homes go).

With 182bhp, it surprises many car drivers with how promptly it can scoot up to motorway speeds without fuss. We managed 0-60mph in a surprisingly sprightly 12.2sec and it pulls strongly from low revs.

If anything, it’s a bit much when you’re accelerating from a standstill, and a heavy right foot will easily spin the front tyres when you launch smartly from a junction to make the most of a brief gap in traffic. It’s certainly punchier than the Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo V220d, although even the entry-level 2.0 TDI 150 VW California is a little quicker than the top-spec Nugget.

The optional six-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly, if slowly, and is rather hesitant in its responses. It’s less jerky than the California’s 'box, but the Marco Polo has the most silken and responsive automatic in this class.

The Nugget is softer sprung than the stiff California, but still twangs over particularly nasty ruts and bumps, and fidgets over even smooth-looking surfaces. Undulating roads highlight rather loose body control that is liable to make weak-stomached passengers feel rather queasy. We’d point you towards the Marco Polo as the best for comfort while retaining reasonable controls.

Well-weighted and precise steering helps make it easy to guide the Nugget around bends, although there’s far more lean than its nearest rivals, and it feels more raggedy when pushed than both. If tidy handling is important to you, you need a California.

The Nugget’s diesel engines sound a little coarse when worked hard (although not quite as rowdy as a California’s) but are quiet at a cruise. That hush highlights a bit of wind whistle around the big mirrors and over the roof, as well as some road roar from the tyres, but you’ll experience similar in the California. The Marco Polo is the best of the three for peace and quiet.

Ford Transit Custom Nugget front cornering


The interior layout, fit and finish

The steering wheel in the Ford Transit Custom Nugget has reach and rake adjustment while the seat comes with lumbar support and height adjustment, as well as the usual backrest angle settings. Whatever you do, though, the angle of the steering wheel and the feeling that you’re sitting over the pedals leaves you in no doubt that you’re in a van.

The seats remain comfortable after a few hours behind the wheel, and at journey’s end they can be rotated through 180 degrees to face the living area. As with rival camper vans, it can feel like a bit of a faff to do that, but we’re sure it’ll become easier as you get used to spinning them without clashing with the interior furnishings.

In typical van fashion, you sit upright for a commanding view of the road that has you towering over most SUVs. The huge windscreen’s pillars don’t interfere with your view at junctions and the side windows are big too. The view out of the back isn’t so good because the high rear window is partially obscured by the cupboards to the sides and the kitchen units. 

Thankfully, front and rear parking sensors are standard and a rear camera is optional. You also get a heated windscreen as well as automatic lights and wipers, and bright Xenon headlights are optional.

The dashboard is solidly constructed, with chrome trim parts and a leather steering wheel to help lift things. The hard, shiny, scratchy plastics, and the van switches and controls are a million miles from the car-based controls and soft-touch plastics you’ll find in the Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo, while the VW California has hard plastics that are much more pleasantly textured.

All Nuggets come with an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system with a DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB port all standard, as are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sat-nav and a second USB port up front are both optional.

The display, which is mounted helpfully high on the dashboard, doesn’t have the glitziest graphics but it is responsive and the menus are easy to navigate, with good-sized icons. A California in Coast or Ocean trim has a touchscreen that is just as easy to use, has just as many features and looks a bit better.

Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The Ford Transit Custom Nugget's front-seat occupants get plenty of head and leg room, along with plenty of room between them, so walking through into the back is easy.

There are lots of handy storage spaces dotted around the interior, including some big cupholders, open and lidded cubbies on the top of the dash, as well as big door bins. The Nugget soundly trumps the Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo for oddment storage.

Those in the back get treated to a three-seater bench that’s on runners with a big drawer beneath it for storing all manner of kit. You’ll find a similar bench in the Marco Polo but that only has seating for two. The VW California has a two-person rear bench if you opt for a model with a kitchen.

If you push the Nugget’s bench backwards (a far more cumbersome process than in the Marco Polo), you get lots of leg and head room, although a middle passenger might feel a little squished.

The bench’s tricks don’t stop there. You can fold it flat to turn it into a fairly comfortable double bed, although you might want to throw a mattress topper on it for longer stays. It’s a shame the mechanism is far clunkier than the California’s, let alone the Marco Polo’s electric folding seats, and your feet have to slot into a recess under the kitchen units. That makes the lower bed in the Marco Polo and California preferable.

As with the Marco Polo and California, the Nugget has a roof that tilts up to reveal another double bed, and it’s a bit wider and comfier than the one below. Unlike the Marco Polo California, you can’t have an electrically operated roof.

To get into the top bed, you clip a ladder on to the kitchen units for far easier access than the two rivals. If you don’t need the bed, it can be clipped to the raising roof and lifted out of the way for more head room.

While it’s the front of the California’s roof that tilts up, in the Nugget it’s the rear. That gives you plenty of head room when you're cooking in the kitchen, which is at the rear of the vehicle. It also makes it easy to walk through to the table that folds out between the front and rear seats.

The kitchen itself is in an L shape, with a hob, sink and fridge, plus plenty of cupboards and drawers. Despite its compact size, cooking a meal shouldn’t be too much of a chore, and can be done well away from children in the ‘living room’. If only adults are going to be on board, we actually prefer the conventional layout of the other two camper vans.

The Nugget has a table between the rear seats and the fronts. Unfortunately, it doesn’t simply fold out of a unit – it has to be pulled out of a hidey-hole and clamped into the floor, making it a trickier operation. You also get a folding table and a couple of chairs for al-fresco meals, as you do with the Marco Polo and California. Unlike those rivals, though, you can get a toilet and washbasin in your Nugget if you opt for the longer variant.

Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior bed

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The Ford Transit Custom Nugget’s starting price is a little higher than basic versions of the Mercedes-Benz V-Class Marco Polo and VW California but those entry-level models don’t include most of the camping gear the Nugget includes as standard. You’re also likely to find big discounts on the Nugget that won’t be matched by those rivals, especially if you’re looking at PCP finance.

The Nugget’s fuel economy isn’t quite as good in our experience, at least if you choose the popular automatic gearbox. In our tests it managed just 29.5mpg while the Marco Polo and California were capable of more than 30mpg.

CO2 emissions are on the high side compared with a typical 2.0-litre diesel car – this is basically a big, heavy van, after all – with emissions comparable with the Marco Polo and California. When it comes to depreciation, the Nugget loses value at around the same rate as the Marco Polo while the California holds on to its value a little better.

Standard equipment includes 16in alloy wheels, cruise control, heated front seats and electric front windows. That’s on top of the visibility aids, infotainment system and extensive camping kit we mentioned earlier.

The Ford Transit Custom that the Nugget is based on received a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. It was found to provide better protection from injuries in the event of a crash than the VW Transporter van (the basis of the California), but not the V-Class. Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is optional in conjunction with adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring is available.

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Ford Transit Custom Nugget interior infotainment


  • Like-for-like, the Transit Custom Nugget is priced roughly on a par with the VW California which means it’ll set you back more than £70,000.

  • Yes – there are ISOFIX attachments in each of the two rear seats.

  • Yes – cruise control comes as standard on every Nugget.