Ford’s newest camper model is here and it’s loud and proud. Can the oddly named Nugget provide stiff competition to the Volkswagen California, or is it just another in a long line of van-converted mobile homes?
Some say the Ford custom campervan will always play second fiddle to the VW models, but the Nugget may start to change minds due to its size and comfort. This may not be a new van but this generation is very different from its predecessors.
When writing this review, we will do our best to not compare the Nugget to the VW California, but at times it is hard not to as they are both front runners in this market and direct competitors.
The Transit Custom Nugget is quite costly, starting at £63,334 on the road or £66,424 with all the bells and whistles, and there are other brands out there that produce something similar for around £8-£10k less. When it comes to what you get for your money, you are going to see the extra value the Nugget provides, making that additional spend very much worth it.
The minibus-based camper has a lot of great features, both inside and out, and a few small elements that were not amazing. The design and build quality is exceptional and throughout the van you will see just how solid all of Ford’s camper components are. Let’s have a delve into what you can expect from the Nugget.
The Nugget’s appearance does not scream out ‘leisure vehicle’, which is a good thing as it works perfectly as both a touring and day-to-day camper. What you do see when you look at it is a very smart, well-designed van that is much in line with the modern look of everyday cars, trucks and 4x4s.
On the exterior, the Nugget benefits from a new modern facelift and grille, which make it look smart and sporty.
The UK version of the Nugget features two sliding side doors that, when opened, make the van airy, bright and very easy for a family of four to hop in and out. There are times where you have just one side door on a camper and you find yourself lining up in an orderly fashion to enter and exit the vehicle – not the best when you have the kids with you.
You will find the awning on the driver’s side of the van, pretty normal for UK campers, as well as the two awning poles. Once set up you can see just how trendy-looking this new Ford is. Dare we say it is better looking than the California?
Around the exterior chassis, there are front and rear parking sensors and a perimeter alarm. We found the perimeter sensors to be a tad over-sensitive and at times they seemed to go off when crawling through slow traffic. This was off-putting and when driving at speed could make you jump a bit as they seem to alert out of nowhere.
One part of this new model that we really like is just how different the layout is for a camper of this size. Ford has very much moved away from the traditional campervan layout and has made fantastic use of a bench seat and rear kitchen set up.
Having the kitchen at the rear means that the bench seat slides down into a double bed without having to use the two cab seats. The long-wheelbase provides so much space inside that you feel very separate from the different areas onboard.
The separation of the cooking and living area means that the two rear barn doors give you the ease of access to the kitchen, with its 40-litre fridge and storage lockers. You can prepare and cook your food without being in the middle of the van and having to manoeuvre around the family.
The front cab does not feel like a transit van – think more modern 4×4. The only drawback we found was just how fiddly the swivel seats are. Depending on your chosen seating position when driving, you may have to totally rearrange the seating to be able to spin the chairs. We can see this annoying a few people.
When the sun goes down the LED interior lighting keeps the van well lit, especially with the fully directional spot lamps.
Internal power points are plentiful: three 340V and 300W sockets, two 12V plugs and then two USB ports. You will not have any issues with charging gadgets while using the kettle and toaster.
In the cab, you have a large screen to control media, maps, radio and music. As always the Apple CarPlay came in handy for both maps and music.
Day and night living
As mentioned above, the rear kitchen frees up a ton of space in the middle of the van. With the two front cab seats spun round and the dining table set up, you can comfortably seat four and still move around the entirety of the van.
Like most camper owners, you’re probably not going to be spending the whole day in the van, as they tend to be for more exploration trips than lazy ones. Despite that trend, you can spend a lot of downtime in the Nugget as the space is there to do so.
This is a four-berth model with two beds that require being set up. Once you are pitched you are more than likely to pop the roof up straight away so the upper double bed will be ready come the evening.
The second double bed is made up from the bench seat and takes no time at all to set up, once you’ve figured it out.
Here is where the Nugget really excels. Ford Transits are made for driving and transporting, so it is no surprise that the 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine and six-speed automatic transmission makes easy work of carrying the extra weight of the touring gear.
Add to that extra luggage, water, food and people, and there’s still no driving issue. You also enjoy great fuel consumption. On average you will get approximately 31.7 miles per gallon and at its lowest around 23.7mpg. This will of course change depending on the laden weight.
We have been testing a lot of automatic campers and motorhomes in 2020. Is this due to the high demand for autos or is this the industry deciding this is the future of touring? Either way, we enjoyed the automatic gearbox and we welcome more vehicles adopting this option.
A manual transmission does have its advantages at times, but during the 50+ hours we drove the Nugget, we did not find an occasion where we’d rather have a gear stick and clutch pedal.
The acceleration was not the best but with all your kit packed and family on board, you are not going to be putting your foot down like an F1 racer.
The Nugget (we still can’t quite decide if we like the name) is a solid campervan that provides an excellent layout and almost flawless driving experience.
The two side doors and rear barn doors make the usage of the van great and is something other manufacturers should look to introduce.
We cannot help but compare it to the VW, but they are quite different, while at the same time having a lot of similarities. The VW was a better drive, but we will put that down to vehicle weight, and the Nugget had a better onboard layout and storage options.
Overall the Nugget is a fantastic choice and should make UK staycations easier for newcomers. When it comes to more seasoned campervan users, it may be hard for them to choose between Ford and Volkswagen.