Ford Tourneo Connect review – Telegraph

18 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Ford Tourneo Connect review – Telegraph
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The Ford Tourneo Connect is little more than a van with windows, but is it a good MPV?

Can we call a spade a bleedin’ shovel here? The Ford Tourneo Connect is basically a gussied-up crew bus, a car-derived van (CDV), with windows and seats.

A crew bus’s natural habitat is the motorway fast lane at silly o’clock in the morning, its seats accommodating the shock troops of construction, their stout shoulders emblazoned with names such as Murphy, Docwra and Wimpey. Is that a copy of The Sun on the dashboard, a vacuum flask perhaps? Of dual-zone climate control, soft-touch dashboards and engine-noise suppression, there is little sign.

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Ford’s Tourneo first appeared in 1995 as an eight-seat minibus version of the full-sized Transit van. A smaller Tourneo Connect was introduced in 2002, based on the original Focus floorpan with a leaf-sprung solid rear axle in place of the Focus’s control-blade independent rear.

This replacement Tourneo Connect is based on Ford’s global C-segment platform, that also underpins the latest Focus, C-Max and Kuga. There’s a five-seat standard version (which is expected to account for 85 per cent of sales) and a 15.7in longer, seven-seat, long-wheelbase Grand Tourneo Connect version.

Four engines are offered: the three-cylinder, 1.0-litre 100bhp Ecoboost petrol, a 1.6-litre 148bhp petrol with automatic gearbox and the 1.6-litre CDTi turbodiesel in 94 or 113bhp outputs, with five- and six-speed gearboxes respectively. An optional Fuel Economy (FE) pack for the 94bhp model costs £360 it adds a start-stop system and self-closing radiator grille, which reduces CO2 emissions by 10g/km.

Car-derived or not, look underneath and you immediately see where this vehicle came from. Flat pieces of bare metal, welded together, with acres of space around the twist-beam rear suspension. There’s not a lot of beauty about the componentry, it just does the job.

The MacPherson-strut front suspension might be from the Focus/C-Max, but the Tourneo doesn’t have that car’s directional stability. There’s an immediate fizzing through the controls on the diesel models, especially under hard acceleration.

The ride is busy, mainly at the rear, although there’s a fair bit of tugging at the steering under acceleration and a strong self-centring action. Body roll is noticeable and the handling is mainly about understeer, although the nose points quickly back into the corner if you lift off, mitigated soon after by the stability programme electronics. The brakes are strong, with good feedback.

Petrol or diesel, a charitable description of the performance is modest. Publicity photos show the Tourneo towing a trailer, which seems pretty fanciful; at times we were flat to the floor merely keeping up with German traffic. There’s not a stitch of spare capacity in the driveline and you quickly learn to meanly conserve momentum like Scrooge the delivery driver.

In the process you gain a profound familiarity with the gearbox. The petrol five-speed is lighter, with an easier shift action than the diesel’s five- or six-speed.

The petrol unit doesn’t mind being revved as much as the diesel, which gets pretty vocal near the red line. Forget the published fuel consumption if you push either engine. After a run up the German autobahn, the diesel’s overall thirst had fallen to 35.7mpg against its EU Combined figure of 61.4mpg.

In the cabin the immediate impression is of gently clanging doors and body panels, which sound off on bumps and road vibrations. There’s acres of hard plastic, nicely moulded and finished, with no sharp edges, but still a long way from passenger-car standards.

The instrumentation and switches are from the Focus and are simple and easy to see and operate. The big door mirrors, with convex lower elements, are brilliant, but create wind noise at speed. The seats are comfortable, but not altogether supportive and the gearlever sits on the dashboard like that in a Honda Jazz. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and height and on our Zetec-trim example the driver’s seat adjusted for height.

The result is a comfy driving position slightly above that of a passenger car, but lower than an SUV.

Space on a budget is why you buy a vehicle like this and in that respect the SWB, with its fully removable seats, is more flexible than the seven-seater, which has seats that cantilever into the floor. Even so, both vehicles offer more than 2,410 litres of space when all except the driver and passenger’s seats are removed or folded. There’s also a useful roof shelf above the front seats.

The Tourneo is a charabanc for those that need the seating capacity, the flat-floor space, or the hose-out interior think model aeroplanes, dogs, sailing, or rugby sevens teams.

Also, for all its faults, like most commercial vehicles the Tourneo is strangely rewarding to drive, requiring anticipation, reading the road, the correct gear and conservation of momentum. In short, never, ever lift off. It’s the kind of vehicle that parents borrow to deliver their children to university and return pronouncing it such fun to drive, even though they won’t be trading in the Merc any time soon.

Ford Tourneo 1.6 TDCi Zetec

Engine/transmission: 1,560cc turbodiesel engine, five-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive

Price/on sale: £14,245 to £18,895 (£16,985 to £20,235 Grand Tourneo Connect), as tested £16,755/now

Power/torque: 94bhp @ 3,600rpm/170lb ft @ 1,500rpm

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Topspeed: 99mph

Acceleration: 0-62mph in 14.7sec

Fuel economy: 57.6mpg/61.4mpg (EU Urban/Combined). On test 35.7mpg

CO2 emissions: 120g/km

VED band: D (£0 first year, £105 thereafter)

Verdict: No one would mistake this for anything other than basic transport, but it’s nicely engineered and handles reasonably

Telegraph rating: Three out of five stars

Citroën Berlingo Multispace 1.6HDi XTR 90, from £16,380

Well established and much-loved van-based MPV, with quite good equipment for the money, but so-so ride. The Family Pack option upgrades it from a five to seven-seater, for an extra £845.

Fiat Doblo 1.6 MultiJet 105 My Life, from £16,760

Spectacularly ugly, but drives better than it has a right to, even if it is rather noisy. Legroom in the rear seats isn’t that generous and the sizeable tailgate is heavy to lift, but the boot is huge.

Kia Carens 1.7 CRDi. from £19,295

Based on a car (the Cee’d) rather than a van and comparatively sleek and sophisticated as a result. Seven seats as standard, and currently offered with an Early Buyer Reward that knocks £1,000 off the list price.

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