Ford has launched a new Tourneo Connect, which it hopes will appeal to those who place function over form. Despite it being based on a commercial vehicle, Ford has made it feel far more car-like than van-like.
In the Metal:
Modern MPVs are more practical than ever before, but in some cases they just don't go far enough in terms of carry capacity. Ford is one of several manufacturers who have turned to their commercial vehicle range and adapted models for civilian needs. The new Tourneo Connect is based on the Transit Connect - Ford's smallest commercial vehicle (not counting the Focus or Fiesta vans) - and the work it has done in altering it to suit the typically higher expectations of family use is to be commended.
In Zetec specification, which is likely to be the most popular choice, it looks very smart, and thanks to a front grille that features the familiar Ford face, it looks just like part of the family. The slender headlights take the boxy look off the front while the tall windscreen offers great visibility of the road ahead. Large front doors allow for easy ingress and egress while the dashboard has a real car-like feel to it. The sliding doors on each side give users the greatest possible space for access, as well as the ability to load large objects thanks to the generous apertures, while the enormous boot lid is relatively light considering its size, and the very low loading lip of the boot floor will be welcomed by many.
One of the first things that you become aware of when driving the Tourneo Connect is how quiet it is on the road. Perhaps coming from commercial vehicle lineage, people might not have the highest of expectations when getting in it, but this Ford should leave most pleasantly surprised. The noise insulation right up to motorway speeds is among the best in the segment.
Ford's 1.0-litre petrol EcoBoost engine is very-well suited to the Tourneo Connect, although most buyers are likely to opt for the 1.6-litre diesel engine, which comes in three different power outputs. The 95hp version tested here is mooted as the popular choice. It pulls well away from a stop and despite only having a five-speed gearbox (the six-speed unit is reserved for the range-topping 115hp version) it doesn't get too loud on the motorway.
From the driver's perspective visibility is one of the Tourneo's strongest points, with big glass areas backed up by some generously-sized door mirrors, giving an excellent rear-ward view. These should give those not used to driving a larger vehicle a degree of extra confidence. The tall roof height does allow for a lot of space, but the rear-view mirror is placed high too, meaning you really do have to look upwards, away from the road, in order to use it.
What most will take away from the Tourneo Connect is that it performs in a much more car-like fashion than one would expect and is a vehicle that deserves to be driven first before ruling it in or out of a buying process.
What you get for your Money:
The Tourneo Connect line-up starts at €23,850. Style, Zetec and Titanium trim levels are offered in Ireland, and there's a seven-seat Grand Tourneo Connect too from €25,100. Engine options range from the 75hp 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol unit (only available in the five-seat model) to 75-, 95- and 115hp derivatives of Ford's 1.6-litre TDCi diesel engine. Only the seven-seat Grand Tourneo Connect can be specified with the most powerful engine.
As the Tourneo Connect is evolved from a commercial vehicle there is plenty of storage and stowage throughout the car. From door cards that are all capable of holding large 1.5-litre drinks bottles to airplane-style overhead storage lockers, the Ford has enough cargo-carrying solutions to make you almost forget where you left it all.
Ford isn't likely to savage sales of its own already-popular MPVs, but what the Tourneo Connect does manage is to considerably raise the bar when it comes to its own specific area of the market. The overall finish in terms of quality, materials used and of course the drive puts it well ahead of its rivals.