Ford Tourneo Custom review

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Ford's Tourneo Custom MPV reinvents itself in this new generation form. Jonathan Crouch reports

Ten Second Review

Ford's new generation Tourneo Custom is a smart-looking, well-equipped and economical super-large People Carrier that can seat eight or nine. Though still based on the Transit Custom van, it's now far more sophisticated and car-like - and there are both PHEV and EV options too. If you've progressed beyond the normal seven-seater MPV and need something uber-spacious for family or business, this contender's now well worth a look.

Background

Welcome to a new kind of Ford large People Carrier. For decades, the brand has offered big car-like MPVs - the S-MAX and the Galaxy. And a big van-like MPV - the Tourneo Custom. Going forward, it'll only be the Tourneo Custom that remains, which means it needs to be a very different proposition to its predecessor. It is.

This model is based, as before, on the Transit Custom van, the latest version of which is Ford's take on the new generation Volkswagen Transporter LCV, Ford and Volkswagen now sharing commercial vehicle designs. Which also means that this Tourneo Custom shares its design with the MPV you'd think would be its most obvious rival, the Volkswagen Transporter Shuttle. Anyway, enough of that: what of the product itself? Well as we'll see, it's now more car-like, as you would expect. And to reflect the prevailing zeitgeist, there's a full-electric version too, selling alongside a Plug-in Hybrid petrol variant and a conventional diesel powerplant. Standard and long wheelbase versions are offered and you'll choose between eight and nine-seat cabin layouts. Which is more versatile than any Galaxy or S-MAX could ever manage. Sounds promising.

Driving Experience

The headlines here are all about the new full-electric E-Tourneo Custom model, but for the time being, most sales will still be of the conventional 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine carried over from this model's predecessor. There's a choice of three power outputs for the black pump-fuelled models - 136PS, 150PS and 170PS; and a choice of 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic gearboxes. The 136PS and 170PS models can also be had with All-Wheel Drive in auto form; and manual gearbox 136PS and 150PS can alternatively be ordered with a mechanical limited-slip differential for extra winter traction. Diesel towing capacity is 2,500kgs.

Ford would also like combustion engine customers to consider the petrol Plug-in Hybrid option. Surprisingly, this PHEV powertrain isn't a borrowed Volkswagen unit but a development of the set-up that a handful of customers chose in the previous generation version of this model. This sees a 2.5-litre petrol engine replace the old 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit, with an electric motor powered by a larger 11.8kWh battery which, when fully charged, is expected to be able to take this MPV up to 31 miles without troubling fossil fuel.

As for the aforementioned all-electric E-Tourneo Custom, well that gets a 215bhp electric motor powered by a 74kWh battery offering a range of up to 230 miles. The motor drives the front wheels and there's a brake regeneration system that promises 'one pedal' driving so that you'll hardly ever need to use the brake when you come off the throttle. The E-Tourneo Custom can tow up to 2.0-tonnes as well, considerably more than direct rivals.

Design and Build

Ford's attempts to make the previous generation Tourneo Custom look less 'minibus-like' fell rather flat but this Volkswagen-influenced version is a different proposition entirely. The stance is more confident, there's increased visual width both front and rear and it can look genuinely smart when optioned up in 'Active' trim with big alloy rims, wheel arch cladding and side steps. As before, there's a lengthier long wheelbase body shape option too. And the E-Tourneo Custom gets its own unique front grille.

You'll want to know about the seating permutations. Diesel and PHEV versions can offer up to nine seats, courtesy of a two-person passenger seat at the front which the EV version can't have. There are always six seats at the rear, with all three middle row positions offering ISOFIX child seat fastenings. The addition of floor rails makes it easier to change seating layouts and all six rear chairs slide, fold or can be removed completely (at which point you'll realise that they're lighter than before). The middle ones can also be turned around to face those at the rear. And you can optionally access the back of the vehicle via power-operated side doors. Up-front, there's a big 13.0-inch central touchscreen running the brand's latest SYNC4 software. Along with a clever 'tilting' steering wheel that can be folded flat into a table.

Market and Model

Expect a slight rise in pricing compared to the previous generation model, which started from around £45,000. Once you've got the variant that you want, it's likely that you'll need a budget of around £50,000 or above - and more of course for the PHEV and full-electric versions. The vehicle is being sold by 'Ford Pro', the Blue Oval brand's commercial vehicle division and there's a choice of short or long wheelbase body shapes. You'll need to budget for a premium with the diesel models if you want the optional 8-speed automatic gearbox: auto transmission is standard with the PHEV drivetrain.

There are three main trim levels - luxury-orientated 'Titanium X', SUV-inspired 'Active' and racier-looking 'Sport' models. Expect to find equipment features on plusher models like 19-inch alloy wheels, synthetic leather upholstery and matrix LED lighting. A panoramic glass roof is an option, as are power-operated sliding doors (which can be operated with a kicking motion if you're approaching laden down with bags). In addition, you can fit a 14-speaker B&O Sound system, 3-zone climate control and multiple USB ports. Choose an electric or a PHEV version and your Tourneo Custom can also feature vehicle-to-load power sockets up-front, allowing you to tap into the vehicle's battery in order to power devices up to 2.3kW, like lap tops or kettles.

Cost of Ownership

Obviously, the cleanest and most efficient version of this model is the E-Tourneo Custom, which as we told you in our 'Driving' section has a 74kWh battery with a driving range of up to 230 miles. Charging takes just under 8 hours from an 11kW source, while DC public charging can take the battery from 15 to 80% capacity in 41 minutes. Ford has designed the charge profile to 'frontload' the energy, which allows a 125kW fast charge to add 23 miles of range in just 5 minutes for quick top-ups. Better still, the 'one pedal' brake regen driving system can keep the battery topped up as you journey on. In our 'Driving' section, we also told you about the PHEV petrol/electric version which has an 11.8kWh battery offering 31 miles of EV range.

Even the EcoBlue diesel variants have some degree of electrification, Ford's mild hybrid system, which uses a belt-driven integrated starter/generator (BISG) to replaces the usual alternator, enabling recovery and storage of energy during vehicle decelerations, and charging a 48-volt lithium-ion air-cooled battery pack. The BISG also acts as a motor, using the stored energy to provide torque assistance to the engine under normal driving and acceleration, as well as running the vehicle's electrical ancillaries. The EcoBlue diesel's Auto Start-Stop technology operates in many situations, including when the vehicle is stationary in gear, and when the vehicle is coasting to a stop. The driver can adjust the coasting speed at which Auto Start-Stop operates, between 7mph and 12mph.

Summary

This is such a different kind of Tourneo Custom that you wonder why Ford didn't use it to reinvent the now-abandoned Galaxy MPV model line. Much will depend on whether folk who previously owned Galaxy and S-MAX models find this new generation design car-like enough to graduate on to. We certainly think this Tourneo Custom is good enough to convert them. And if you're looking at the all-electric version, it's an all-round better product than the badge-engineered Stellantis Group design sold by Vauxhall, Citroen and Peugeot.

You might still feel there's a whiff of 'minibus' about this big Ford and if so, you'll be more interested in models in this class like Volkswagen's Multivan. But for other customers, that bus-like vibe will be all part of this Tourneo Custom's appeal. It's moved on, but it's still very much a practical People Mover. Exactly as it should be.

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