Ford's Tourneo Connect offers families a multi-purpose vehicle that goes large on practicality. Jonathan Crouch reports
Ten Second Review
The Ford Tourneo Connect is a clever and well-engineered people mover that's offered in normal five-seat or long-wheelbase seven-seat Grand Tourneo Connect guises and these days gets the frugality of Ford's latest 1.5 TDCi diesel engine. If you like the idea of a rugged, tough commercial-sourced MPV but want a few creature comforts at the same time, here's the perfect compromise.
Think people mover vehicles and you'll probably think of cars like the Ford C-MAX, the Renault Scenic and the Vauxhall Zafira. Increasingly though, customers looking for true practicality are often finding models like these a little too polished or, to put it bluntly, not something that you'd be willing to pile a wet dog into. It never used to be that way. The first generation of these cars were resolutely practical things. Today, while they still retain the space and the clever folding seats, the ambience is one of club class travel rather than rugged practicality.
That's where cars like the Ford Tourneo Connect come in. A gap opens beneath these increasingly glitzy MPVs for something a bit more blue-collar, something that doesn't mind rolling up its sleeves once in a while. This genre of car was popularised by models like the Citroen Berlingo Multispace and the Peugeot Partner Combi. Now Ford has muscled in with the five-seat Tourneo Connect and the seven-seat Grand Tourneo Connect. The French aren't going to like this one bit.
Ford offers a decent range of engine options in its Tourneo Connect line-up but for many, the search will begin and end with the multi-award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol powerplant that's offered with the five-seater model. This is a cracking little engine that offers a real fizzy power delivery, its turbocharger helping the tiny three-cylinder unit to a respectable 100PS. The only potential issue here is that this version might end up feeling a little breathless if you're regularly driving with the vehicle fully loaded, in which case you might prefer the powerful Bridgend-built 150PS 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol variant. This also has the benefit of being offered with a six-speed automatic gearbox.
Some buyers of course, will countenance nothing but a diesel. To satisfy them, there are two versions of the 1.5-litre TDCi engine with a choice of 100 and 120PS power outputs. The former gets a five-speed manual box, the latter a six-speed. Go for the Grand Tourneo Connect and it's offered solely with diesel power. There's a Powershift automatic option for those who want it.
The Tourneo Connect is reasonably quick off the mark when fitted with the 150PS petrol engine, getting to 62mph from a standstill in 11.4 seconds on the way to 104mph. Anything else is a bit more leisurely.
Design and Build
More than anything else, it's the Tourneo Connect's roofline that hints at its commercial vehicle origins because most of the exterior detailing is as slick as you'd expect from other Ford passenger cars. The front end features Ford's familiar 'Kinetic Design' look with a big trapezoid grille and swept back headlights. The flanks don't have a whole lot of shape in them, but that's excusable if sliding rear doors are fitted. Whether you choose the five or seven-seater, the abiding impression is one of solidity and space, headroom most notably.
Every rear seat has integral head restraints and, of course, three-point seatbelts. Split 60/40, the seat backs also fold and tumble and can be removed, allowing you to maximise the cargo space. In the Grand Tourneo Connect, rear seats can be folded flat into the footwell for maximum luggage space and there's an optional third row of seats split 50/50 which can also be folded flat. Outer second row rear seats have ISOFIX anchorage points, making it easy to fit the latest removable child seats. The Tourneo Connect has been designed to make the most of its internal space with storage boxes on both the driver and passenger sides of the dashboard, 1.5-litre holders in the front doors, floor stowage and even 'aircraft style' overhead lockers.
Market and Model
Both the Tourneo Connect and the Grand Tourneo Connect are offered in three trim levels - Style, Zetec and Titanium. Prices kick off at just over £14,000 for the entry-level 1.0T petrol Tourneo Connect, with the diesels requiring a budget starting from around the £15,000 mark. Should you prefer the longer car, you'll pay from around £17,000 for the Grand with the 100PS diesel in Style trim. Need more power? Then you'll have to dig a bit deeper and upgrade to Zetec spec as well, which will set you back a sum total well over £19,000.
This makes the Tourneo Connect a little pricier than a Citroen Berlingo Multispace, which retails in petrol form between £13,000 and £17,000 - but considerably cheaper than Ford's more car-like C-MAX compact MPV. Against seven-seat rivals, the Grand Tourneo Connect looks very competitive.
Equipment levels are reasonably generous, with even the entry-level Style coming with a digital radio, a USB-in socket, Bluetooth, wheel-mounted stereo controls, electronic stability control, and remote central locking. Step up to the Zetec and you get air conditioning, a heated windscreen and mirrors, an eight-way adjustable driver's seat and the clever Ford SYNC 2 connectivity system for connecting in all manner of electronic devices, a set-up that also includes an emergency assist feature to help summon assistance in an accident. Those looking for some really car-like refinements will be drawn to the range-topping Tourneo Connect Titanium which is supplied with cruise control, static cornering lights, parking sensors, alloy wheels, a panoramic roof, dual zone air con, seat back tray tables and integral roof rails. Options include Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Keeping Aid.
Cost of Ownership
The Tourneo Connect scores extremely well on virtually any efficiency or cost of operation metric you can throw at it. Just about the only caveat worth mentioning is that the 1.0T petrol engine probably won't make anything like its quoted 50.4mpg combined fuel economy figure if market experience of this unit in some of Ford's other models is anything to go by. This petrol variant's CO2 figure is 129g/km.
If you're really concerned with economy, it'll be better to plump for one of the diesels. The 100PS powerplant gets a combined 65.7mpg and emits just 111g/km thanks to Ford's Auto-Start-Stop system.
Ford has had to walk a fairly narrow path with the Tourneo Connect. It needed to build a vehicle that was a notch above existing commercial-based MPVs but which was still rugged enough that owners wouldn't get too precious about throwing mud-encrusted dogs and children into the back. The seven seat Grand Tourneo Connect looks especially attractive as it can be run in five or seven seat guises, the former offering a huge amount of luggage space.
With a versatile interior that's not too clever for its own good and a sensible array of engines, the Tourneo Connect initially appears a guaranteed hit. In the past, Ford has often been strangely reticent to give its commercial-sourced passenger products the promotional push they deserve and if that's the case, the Tourneo Connect might well become the best MPV the mass market has never heard of.