Ford finally launched its own Nugget campervan into the UK at the Motorhome and Caravan Show 2019. Based on the Transit Custom medium van, the Nugget is a direct rival to the Volkswagen California and the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo. Now in 2020 it’s added a long-wheelbase version to the range, which comes complete with an on-board toilet…
This gives the long Ford Nugget a clear point of difference between itself and those direct rivals.
The Ford Transit Custom Nugget? Really?
Yes, the name is a little… unusual, isn’t it? Not quite as sexy sounding as California, nor as adventurous as Marco Polo. It is a long-established moniker for Ford Transit-based campervan conversions, though, and is particularly well known in Germany.
Who builds the Ford Transit Custom Nugget?
The Nugget is built by campervan conversion specialist Westfalia – a name most camper enthusiasts will likely recognise.
So while you’ll be able to buy one direct from a Ford dealer, the Nugget is not Ford’s own work in the same way that the California is designed and engineered by Volkswagen.
How does it compare with the California?
In as much as both are based on medium-sized vans, have sleeping space for four and an on-board kitchen, the VW and the new Ford are similar basic concepts.
However, the Transit Custom Nugget has twin sliding side doors and a slightly different ‘three-room’ interior arrangement versus the Transporter-based California – most obvious in the position of the kitchen area.
The Nugget has this right at the back of the van, whereas the California places it in the middle, though both kitchens come complete with two-burner gas hobs, a refrigerator and a sink.
Both also have an interior seating area that does triple duty as travel seats on the move, dining room and lower sleeping space, plus additional sleeping for two more people in the pop-up area on the roof.
The inner roof can be raised for additional head-room inside on both campervans, although as you can see the Ford’s roof pop-ups in the opposite direction – concentrating the added space above the kitchen as it does in the VW.
Any particularly fancy features?
We’re intrigued by the folding handbrake, designed to increase room in the cabin. The front seats swivel to face the living area of the van, but you probably expected that already.
In the lower sleeping area the bed extends under the sink, and folds flat using the typical rock’n’roll configuration.
This is a slightly more awkward arrangement than the one VW uses, and reduces kitchen storage, but it does mean that you’re not forced to use the front seats in the bed make-up as you are in some third-party conversions. That’s definitely favourable for a flatter, more comfortable sleeping area.
Perhaps more excitingly, the Nugget has an onboard FordPass Connect modem that gives up to 10 devices mobile Wi-Fi connectivity.
This is intended to appeal directly to ‘digital nomads’ who travel and work full time from their vans. We can’t help thinking that such people might want a van with a bit more of a bathroom than the outdoor shower attachment that’s all the Nugget offers, however – although you could level the same criticism at most vans of this size.
You do get plenty of driver assistance tech, though, including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, cross-traffic alert, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, lane-keeping assist, automatic parking and blindspot monitors that take attached trailers into account.
There’s also a rear parking camera. The infotainment system is based around the familiar Ford Sync 3, which includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen, sat-nav and voice control. An upgraded sound system is available as an option.
What does the long-wheelbase Nugget offer?
More space is a given, and in a small campervan every single inch matters. But it’s what that space is used for that really makes a difference, and in this case Ford’s chosen to equip the long Nugget (named the Nugget Plus in continental markets) with its own mobile loo.
That’s right – instead of a Porta-Potti, the long Nugget features a dedicated area with a built-in cassette toilet, just like you’d find on a larger motorhome. A foldaway washbasin sits above for brushing teeth or washing faces, freeing up the kitchen sink for, well, kitchen duties, and folding privacy screens allow passengers to make use of the facilities without being in full view of the other occupants of the ‘van.
In reality, this toilet area is still only truly suitable for emergencies – with only a pop-top roof, the rest of the van isn’t protected from, er, emissions that may come from within. Ford suggests it offers greater convenience on longer trips or when travelling with young children.
Single motorhomers (or very loving couples) may also be able to make use of it. Either that, or reserve it exclusively for emergency wees.
What engine powers the Transit Custom Nugget?
The Nugget uses the same 2.0-litre EcoBlue turbodiesel engine as the rest of the Transit Custom range – although the camper is restricted to two of the four possible power outputs: 130hp or 185hp.
These are the latest versions of this engine, with improved fuel economy and plenty of low-down torque to get a fully loaded campervan moving.
A six-speed manual gearbox is fitted, with a six-speed automatic optional on the 185hp version.
How much does the Transit Custom Nugget camper cost?
Nugget prices start at £59,605 (on the road, including VAT) for the 130hp short-wheelbase L1 model, rising to £61,049 for the 185hp camper with manual gearbox or £63,334 with the automatic.
Pricing for the new long-wheelbase L2 Nugget Plus model haven’t been announced yet, but orderbooks open in November 2020 ahead of first deliveries in early 2021.
We’ll bring you more soon.