Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
All Ford Transit 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, which is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox that proved pleasant in use.
If you’re the kind of camper that’s always mindful of the crockery in the cupboards, we’d say the entry-level engine is sufficient. If you’ve already replaced all of your china with plastic to quell your fears of a dishware-related catastrophe when cornering, the EcoBlue 185 offers more than ample performance for spirited driving, as far as mobile homes go.
It certainly surprises a few dim-witted car drivers by how promptly it can scoot up to motorway speeds without fuss should the need arise. If anything it’s a bit much when you’re accelerating from a standstill, a heavy right foot will easily spin the front tyres when you launch smartly from a junction in a bid to make the most of a brief gap in traffic.
The optional six-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly, if slowly, and is rather hesitant in its responses. The Volkswagen California’s far more alert automatic is sharper in its responses and just as smooth on the move, and its top diesel engine is even more potent.
The Nugget has the edge on ride comfort, though, with a softer edge than the firm California. It still twangs a bit over particularly nasty ruts and bumps, but it takes the edge off more effectively. Despite this apparent softness, the Nugget still does a pretty good job of controlling its not inconsiderable weight over undulating roads and corners pretty tidily for such a hefty thing, albeit with a fair bit of body lean. Well-weighted and precise steering helps make it easy to guide the Nugget around bends, while its usefully tight turning circle will be appreciated in urban environments.
The Nugget’s diesel engines aren’t too intrusive when worked hard and are quiet at a cruise. That fact does highlight a bit of wind whistle, though, around the big mirrors and over the roof, as well as some road roar from the tyres, but experience a similar thing in the California, too.
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