The Ford Nugget could appeal to those who want to a campervan to double-up as a main means of transport as it has five travel berths and is excellent to drive. Nick Harding assesses its other qualities.
The Ford Transit Nugget is one of a growing band of campervans that specifically bears the name of the base vehicle manufacturer (like Volkswagen’s California and Mercedes’ Marco Polo). Although the Nugget name has actually been around for some time, Ford has now decided to sell it directly through its own dealer network, with 17 venues signed up so far.
Prices start at £59,010 and increase to £62,736 if you go for automatic transmission, which also entails an engine upgrade to 182bhp, as per the variant on test here. There are further added options on this test model, including metallic paint (£780), towbar (£390), ICE Pack (£912, comprising Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, DAB radio, 8in colour touchscreen, satellite navigation etc), and Visibility Pack (£1,008, giving you a rear view camera, lane keeping alert and electric folding mirrors).
Build quality – 86%
The standard of craftsmanship on show in the Nugget is up there with the very best. That’s no surprise considering the conversion work is done by Westfalia, which has been a leading light in this sector for decades. It’s all very modern and automotive-looking, thanks to alloy furniture edging and plastic mouldings.
The elevating roof is great quality, featuring heavy-duty canvas and zips and opening panels to three sides. Front hinges lift the whole section providing most standing space where you need it – when you’re in the kitchen. A sensible locking clip and grab handle for the roof makes it easy to push up and pull back down again, although you still need to tuck in the canvas as you lower the roof. It helps to be tall enough to reach the strap, too.
One minor negative is that the tailgate seems a bit flimsy when you’re closing it, and you need to be aware that the overall height is some 6cm over the standard car park barrier height of 2m. A longer version, the high-top Nugget Plus, is also due and includes a plumbed-in cassette toilet.
Driving – 86%
Five travel berths as standard is a key Nugget plus, as is the provision of sliding doors on both sides.
Overall, the Transit Custom is an impressive campervan base. It’s the 320SB Low variant here, with Ford ensuring the Nugget is particularly well equipped. The cab doesn’t just look car-like – it boasts a generous specification, right through to heated seats, Quickclear windscreen and more.
It’s a lovely vehicle to drive – the 128bhp engine with six-speed manual gearbox is standard, but the 182bhp with automatic transmission version completes the transformation from van to luxury campervan.
Daytime – 78%
The Nugget floorplan puts all the seating at the front – swivel cab seats (helped by a drop-down handbrake) and sliding rear seat – with an L-shaped kitchen area at the rear. It’s clever and, by and large, works as far as space to manoeuvre is concerned. It did feel quite dark inside at times but keeping the lights on and/or unzipping the roof panels helped combat that. Of more concern is the shortage of storage space. Apart from the bench seat base and fixed pockets in the sliding doors, there’s none in the seating area. At the back, there’s a series of lockers plus a small cutlery drawer.
A diesel-powered heater has a cosy 400W maximum output, while the fresh and waste water tanks both have a capacity of 42 litres. There’s space for just one 2.8kg butane gas cylinder. Your electrical appliances are catered for with three mains sockets, two 12V outlets and two USB ports.
The Nugget also comes with two folding chairs and a table for outdoor use. Be warned, the chairs take up rather a lot of room in the large recess under the kitchen, where you’ll also find a section of mattress.
Night-time – 70%
Commendably, you get the option of two 6ft-plus double beds of considerable comfort here. The roof bed is my favourite, mainly because it pulls down (as well as out, slightly) to give you a 6ft 7in x 4ft 6in mattress, that’s well supported and ventilated on Froli plastic springs. There’s a small ladder stowed in the largest locker if you want to make your way up to bed as elegantly as possible.
The other double (6ft 3in x 4ft 3in) can be made from the downstairs seating. It involves moving the cab seats as far forward as possible then pulling out the rear seat base, lowering the backrest and pulling up a section to slot into the base. One factor to consider is the lack of floor space when this bed is made up.
There are curtains all round for night-time blackout as well as insulation panels for the cab windows.
Kitchen – 67%
The Nugget’s kitchen might be in an unusual location for a campervan, but the facilities provide no surprises. There’s a typical two-burner hob, complemented by a circular sink in matching stainless steel and a top-loading 40-litre compressor fridge. Worktop space is limited to the area between the sink and hob.
A handy bank of inset shelving is situated between the kitchen and the rear seat – ideal for stowing mugs, tea towels and more. There are also mains and 12V sockets here, while the hob has a handy splashguard.
A 12V/230V hot water system as standard is something of a surprise in a campervan, but I’m not convinced it’s essential – I would rather have the extra storage space.
Washroom – N/A
There is no washroom as such but Ford does supply an external shower as standard. It’s ideal washing down pets, footwear etc.
Details – 77%
You will appreciate touches such as the additional plug-in reading light, excellent LED lighting (spot lights and strips) and more. Even the awning is standard (in an Anthracite or Silver finish).
When you add in base vehicle features including front and rear parking sensors, 16in alloy wheels, perimeter alarm and tyre pressure monitoring system, it’s pretty clear the Nugget is better equipped than many of its modern-day peers.
Verdict – 77%
Can Ford score in the campervan sector? Why not? A growing band of specialist campervan producers are adding the Transit Custom to their portfolio and it’s not hard to see why. The Nugget, though, is Ford’s very own and there’s no doubt it brings something different to the sector.