Ford Tourneo Connect review

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Ford's Tourneo Connect offers MPV motoring in compact form with a distinctly Germanic flavour. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

Most of us have squeezed children or pets into a car before, but Ford's rejuvenated Tourneo Connect compact MPV can comfortably take much more. From kite-surfing equipment to the school run, this is a car that aims to help families get a little more out of life. And in creating it, the Blue Oval brand has received more than a little help from Volkswagen.

Background

The Blue Oval brand has long ploughed its own furrow when it comes to its commercial vehicle range, but that's changed with a more recent partnership with Volkswagen that will see all future Blue Oval brand van models paired with their VW counterparts. Which means that the third generation Ford Transit Connect has been designed to share all its engineering with the current fifth generation Volkswagen Caddy. Which in turn also means that the People Carrier version of that Ford, this Tourneo Connect model, had to be a Blue Oval brand version of the MPV model that VW markets to family passenger car customers as the Caddy - or Caddy Life.

If you followed all of that, it'll explain why the Ford Tourneo Connect model line we examine here looks so similar to its Wolfsburg competitor, especially in profile - and beneath the bonnet. Let's take a look.

Driving Experience

Ford hasn't just borrowed a Volkswagen chassis here but also engines too, though to disguise the fact, the Blue Oval's given the units concerned its own 'EcoBoost' and 'EcoBlue' branding. Ultimately, what it all boils down to is that you get the same powerplant choice that would be available to you with a comparable Volkswagen Caddy MPV. This means Tourneo Connect customers get to choose from either a 1.5 litre EcoBoost turbo petrol unit (with 114PS) or the alternative 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel, available in 112PS or 122PS outputs. All models feature six-speed manual transmission as standard, with the alternative of a seven-speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles and a 'Sport' mode. Choose that auto and your car can also be specified with Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centring, which provides assisted driving for accelerator, braking and steering functions to reduce stress on highways or in stop and start traffic.

Volkswagen isn't (currently) offering 4WD on Caddy MPVs but Ford has decided to make it available here - for the first time in a Tourneo Connect. The system automatically distributes torque between the wheels depending on driving conditions and surfaces, helping drivers maintain progress in more challenging conditions. All-wheel drive is available on models fitted with the 2.0-litre 122PS EcoBlue diesel engine and the six-speed manual gearbox and don't compromise interior space or loading height. Engine under-shield protection is available to support customers who frequently drive on rough surfaces.

Design and Build

There's a choice of two body lengths here, a short wheelbase L1 model with the option of three seating rows and the long wheelbase Grand Tourneo Connect L2 variant that features them standard and is obviously much better suited for the transport of seven folk. The previous version of this model looked very much like a van with windows, but this design has much more of a passenger car vibe, its more sculpted exterior offering a sportier, more lifestyle-orientated look. Particularly if you go for the crossover-style 'Active' version, which gets two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels, a silvered skid plate, a honeycomb-style front grille and body mouldings around the bumpers, wheel arches and door sills.

Inside, Ford has borrowed and re-skinned Volkswagen's infotainment technology, with the choice of a central SYNC screen in 8.25 or 10-inch sizes, depending on your choice of trim. Large sliding side doors on each side of the vehicle help children and elderly occupants move in and out in restricted spaces where conventional doors may not be able to open fully. Convenience is enhanced by plentiful cup holders, cubbies and charging ports, while the available panoramic glass roof and dual zone climate control help make the cabin airy and more comfortable on long road trips. With the second and third row seating removed, the Tourneo Connect offers up to 3.1m3 of load volume in L2 Grand Tourneo Connect models - and 2.6m3 in L1 models. Carrying longer items or bulky leisure equipment is facilitated by maximum load lengths of 2,265mm behind the first row of seats, 1,452mm behind the second, and 629mm behind the third for L2 Grand Tourneo Connect variants (it's 1,913mm, 1100mm and 317mm for L1 variants).

Market and Model

Tourneo Connect pricing sits in the £25,000 to £32,000 bracket, so there's a really useful saving here against the identically-engineered Volkswagen version of this model, even if you compare against the more basic Caddy rather than the more MPV-like Caddy Life, both models that roll down the same Polish VW production line as this Ford. Combustion-engined van-based compact MPV competitors are thin on the ground since the Stellantis Group models in this segment went all-electric. There's really only the pricier Mercedes T-Class.

Spec advice? Well it's worth finding the extra £800 Ford wants to progress from the L1 body shape to the longer Grand Tourneo L2 body style. There's a premium of around £800 to go from the 114PS 1.5-litre petrol engine to the 122PS 2.0-litre diesel and both engines can be had with 7-speed auto transmission for around £900 more. 4WD's an option on the top diesel unit too.

There are four trim levels available, starting with base 'Trend' spec, identifiable by a gloss black grille surround and wheel trims. Move up to 'Titanium' level and you get satin chrome detailing, privacy glass and 16-inch alloy wheels. The 'Sport' model features bonnet stripes, a more dynamic lower front bumper and 17-inch dark alloy wheels. But the version you probably ideally want is the SUV-inspired 'Active' model we have here, which gets crossover-style metallic-effect skid plates and additional body mouldings around the wheel arches, sills and bumpers, along with unique 17-inch wheels.

Cost of Ownership

The engines are all Volkswagen-sourced, which means they're fundamentally efficient. Most customers will probably want the 122PS version of the 2.0 TDI diesel here, which in EcoBlue manual form manages up to 57.6mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions from 128g/km. It's 55.4mpg and 136g/km for the auto. For the 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol, the figures are 44.1mpg and 146g/km for the manual and 42.2mpg and 152g/km for the auto. Those are for the L1 body shape: think in terms of losing around 5% on those figures if you choose the slightly heavier Grand Tourneo L2 body shape.

Auto Start-Stop technology is standard across the range as you'd expect. And the diesel engine features the VW Group-pioneered 'twin-dosing' system that injects AdBlue upstream of two selective catalytic converters to help reduce nitrogen oxides. This Tourneo Connect comes with the usual Ford three year/60,000 mile warranty and a year of roadside assistance. You could pay more to extend this cover to either five years and 100,000 miles or eight years and 100,000 miles. Most owners will want to take out the 'Ford Protect Service Plan Plus' programme, which allows customers to spread the cost of routine maintenance. Service intervals are spread quite far apart - every 18,600 miles or every two years, whichever comes first. Insurance groupings start from 11E for the petrol model; for the 2.0-litre 122PS diesel, it's from group 12E.

Summary

There's no doubt that this is a much more car-like compact People Carrier than the previous generation Tourneo Connect. Ford has taken what's good about Volkswagen engineering here - primarily the Caddy model's MQB platform - but added its own spin on it. And there should be more affordable pricing than you get with a Caddy MPV.

If previously, you'd never even have considered a van-based People Carrier, this one's worth approaching with an open mind. Models of this sort have always specialised in offering everything you need and nothing you don't. This one though, sugars that concept a small but significant amount. And as a result, sense and sensibility just got that little more desirable.

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