By Wayne Gorrett, Bavaria, Germany
The 2014 Ford Tourneo Connect is a life-style oriented MPV,
based on the Transit Connect commercial vehicle.
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At launch, it will be accompanied by the cavernous seven-seat Grand Tourneo Connect. Both have dual sliding rear doors and flexible seating configurations. Both are available to order now, for delivery later this year.
Manufactured at Ford’s Valencia plant, the Tourneo Connect represents Ford’s belated entry to the budget MPV market, currently dominated by the Citroen Berlingo Multispace, it’s DNA sibling the Peugeot Partner Tepee and Volkswagen’s Caddy Life.
Ford’s marketing chaps point out that ‘whether tackling the school run or taking the family mountain biking, the Tourneo Connect MPVs are great for today’s busy lifestyles’. No real argument there to be honest. However, one does wonder from where within that demographic are the number of buyers to come to meet the anticipated 24% growth the sector for the Blue Oval brand alone.
While a slice of that growth will undoubtedly be met by those families living ‘the busy lifestyle’, significant numbers will likely derive from the business sector. With engine and transmission options that make attractive business numbers, coupled with flexible seating capabilities and practical, cavernous space for a wide variety of human and luggage uses, it makes a genuine case for the private taxi sector, business and Motability leasing.
What’s the range and prices like?
Pretty good. As with other budget MPVs in this class, it’s all about the maximum space and versatility for the smallest affordable outlay. The Tourneo Connect scores well in all three areas.
The five-seat Tourneo Connect is available in three grades – Style, Zetec and Titanium. Prices start from £14,245 for the Style 1.0-litre 100PS EcoBoost six-speed manual petrol with stop/start, offering 50.4 official mpg and the range tops out at a reasonable £18,895 for the Titanium 1.6-litre six-speed petrol automatic.
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The seven-seat Grand Tourneo Connect is also available in Style, Zetec and Titanium grades, with prices starting at £16,985 for the Style 1.6 95PS diesel five-speed. The Grand Tourneo range peaks with the Titanium 1.6 diesel offering 115PS through a six-speed manual gearbox.
How does it drive?
The predicted best-seller – Ford’s very tried and equally tested 1.6 diesel engine – is available in both the five- and seven-seat variants in two different states of tune – 95PS And 115PS. I drove both cars with this engine and it exceeded my expectations with the difference of 20PS barely noticeable between the two under normal driving conditions.
On the road, the Tourneo Connect offers a very comfortable, refined and oddly quiet ride. As may be expected from a car (nee van) of this nature, there is an almost acceptable degree of roll and float through the corners but the car never feels unnerving or disconnected in any way. Also, as an errant rural Bavarian cyclist gave good cause to prove, the all-round disc brakes offer exceptional performance when required to do so, in a composed and safe way.
The steering is well weighted for its class and offers a greater degree of ‘feel’ than expected. Drivers familiar with current Ford products will feel right at home as essential controls fall easily to hand.
What’s it like inside?
Depending on chosen specification, it’s largely utilitarian. The front of the cabin is looking a little dated of late and the now common V-shaped centre layout is not to everyone’s taste, mine included.
All rear seats in both five- and seven-seat guise fold to allow a large level load area and, if required to be, is plenty big enough for two grown-ups to comfortably sleep in. Head and leg-room are excellent throughout both five- and seven-seat models.
Space and seating versatility win the day here because there’s plenty of it. Both rear doors slide open and closed, allowing exceptional entry and egress particularly when parked in our typically narrow bays, while the tailgate is carport-like when open. Having the lowest load sill in its class completes the truly extraordinary space and functional benefit package of the Tourneo Connect range.
There’s a host of smart storage areas including overhead lockers above the rear seats and luggage area. A glass panoramic roof is standard on the Titanium variant.
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What’s to like?
• Fuel economy is good on both models and the 1.6 diesel manual with a choice of 95PS or 115PS returns an official 58.9mpg with 134g/km CO2 emissions, falling into Band E, with £125 road tax – at least for the time being.
• All models of Tourneo Connect are fitted with Active City Stop, Ford’s automatic emergency braking system as standard, along with Ford SYNC.
• Rear suspension and driving dynamics are improved with the introduction of torsion beam, replacing the previous leaf-spring arrangement.
• Ford’s award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine joins the powerplant line-up, along with the Dagenham-built 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel.
• A refined automatic gearbox is available too when choosing the Bridgend-built 150PS 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. I drove it for a long spell and it performed surprisingly well.
• Space and functionality are the buzzwords on the 17-model Tourneo Connect range, along with price and efficiencies.
What’s not to like?
• Not a lot really and certainly nothing that would scupper a deal.
• With Scrooge-like undertones, Ford offers NO air-conditioning as standard on entry-level Style grades. If you want it, you will need to find £720 for the manual version. Frankly, I’d rather just open one of the two (electric) front windows.
• The oversized box of electronic sensors mounted behind the rear-view mirror is a major distraction for the driver and the rear-view mirror is set quite high, requiring the driver to actually look (eyes off the road ahead) in its direction, rather than offer up a cursory glance.
• Some seat-folding parts are flimsy resulting in two failures during a pre-drive ‘discovery’ session.
If you prefer substance over style and functionality over form then yes, the Ford Tourneo Connect range is worthy of further attention. From an everyday car perspective, the 1.6-litre diesel offers the better numbers all-round. According to Ford, that diesel opinion would be shared by a further 89 percent of anticipated buyers.
At the end of the five test drive routes around southern Bavaria, and having driven both five- and seven-seat models across four engine and gearbox types, I had grown more than a little fond of the new Tourneo Connect.