Tourneo delivers on price and practicality
Tourneo range answers increasing demand for more affordable seven-seater transport
The Tourneo Connect: it looks like a van and drives like one as well – and that’s a big part of its charm
Date Reviewed: April 8, 2014
There was a time when you could spot the bobbing heads of children sitting on bags of cement through the back windows of old Renault 4 former P&T vans. These were the affordable people carriers of their era; transporting children in a way that was totally illegal, incredibly unsafe, but surprisingly common.
School runs were very different affairs back then, with hatchbacks living up to their “five-door” format as the boot was regarded as an ideal spot for longer-legged youths. Legend has it that Garda stops often uncovered the occasional Hiace van with a couch in the back, laden with offspring of the driver.
Then came the people carrier. We look back with horror at the way children were transported back then, dicing with death at every turn. These days there’s a dedicated seat and belt for everyone and lower road death figures to mark our advances.
Yet for all attempts to stylise the image or beef up the performance, the reality about people carriers is still hard to miss: they’re posh vans. Out went the bags of cement or worn couch and in went windows, proper seats and Isofix fittings.
Admittedly, most of the modern people carriers these days are based on a car firm’s family hatchback or saloon models, sharing the same electronics, engines and some of the design, but that only seems to add to the cost.
What we have here is a recognition of the roots of people carriers by the blue oval brand. Ford built the Tourneo range on the back of its commercial division. The meeting of commercial and car divisions is symptomatic of an improvement in the quality of commercial vehicles along with increasing demands for ever more affordable seven-seater transport by the motoring public.
There’s nothing sophisticated about the Tourneo Connect offering. It looks like a van and drives like one as well – and that’s a big part of its charm.
And, in truth, the underpinnings are actually the same as those in the Focus, C-MAX and new Kuga. It’s not as much fun to drive as those but it isn’t a world apart. Ford has earned a lot of respect over the years for its ability to get the best handling out of its cars and even the Tourneo does well in this regard.
Three Tourneos are on offer: the small Courier that’s due in Ireland later this year; the Connect five- or seven-seater; and the Custom, effectively an eight-seater minibus.
Within the Connect range, two variants are on offer, a roomy five-seater with sizeable luggage space or a seven-seater that has a limited amount of luggage room when all seats are in use.
Our test car was the fully-fledged seven-seater Grand Tourneo and you can quickly see why this car works for families. Not only do you get to haul kith and kin about, but fold down the seats and you have a practical small van able to swallow Ikea flatpacks without complaint.
The third row of seats slide back and forth to allow customers the choice of extra leg room or more space for belongings. It has 2,620 litres of luggage space with the two rear seat rows folded down. In other words, it turns into a van.
It also boasts a five-star rating by independent crash test authority Euro NCAP. The Connect features the full array of safety features one expects from a modern family car, including driver, passenger and side airbags at the front, and curtain airbags in the front and rear.
Options also include the Active City Stop, designed to help motorists avoid low-speed collisions with stationary or slower moving traffic in front; and Ford’s voice-activated, in-car connectivity system, SYNC.
The 1.6-litre 95bhp diesel engine pulls this along at a stoic pace. A 0-100km/h time of 15.1 seconds leaves overtaking something of a luxury, but in general I didn’t find it too short of stamina for what it is. Looks alone would leave no doubt that this is no hot hatch, so you don’t make a fool of yourself trying to do things it clearly isn’t able to.
Ford has always done a good job of mixing family practicality with decent driving characteristics. Both the C-Max and the S-Max are benchmarks in the people carrying segment.
For all the ability of these vehicles, the Tourneo delivers more in terms of price and practicality. It doesn’t sparkle in terms of ride and handling refinement, but it does have those big sliding rear doors and a price tag starting close to €25,000. Even if we are emerging from recession, families are still watching their spending.
If you have enough mouths to feed to warrant a seven- seater , then it’s unlikely
that dynamic cornering or sporty looks gets much of a look-in when you go to buy a car.
And if practically is more important than pace or panache, then the Tourneo does seem to do the trick.
Ford Grand Tourneo Connect Kombi Style: The lowdown
1.6 TDCi 95bhp with 5-speed manual transmission
4.6 l/100km (61.4 mpg)
€26,300 (five-seater starts at €24,100)