Ford’s Tourneo Connect is a treat to drive

001-off-my-wheelsBrian Joss –

A long time ago when the gap year I took turned out to be much longer than that we bought a battered and bruised Ford Transit, but it was good enough to tootle around Europe, staying at campsites – none of us could afford the luxury of an hotel – and when necessarily sleeping in it.

Now it’s 2015 and the Transit Connect and the Ford Tourneo MPV which were launched in South Africa recently are a far cry from that venerable Transit which did yeoman service until it was eventually stolen in London. However, that’s a story for another day.

Ford’s new Tourneo Connect: a great people mover that ticks all the boxes. Picture: Quickpic
Ford’s new Tourneo Connect: a great people mover that ticks all the boxes. Picture: Quickpic

The Tourneo Connect can double up as a cargo carrier simply by flattening the seats. It doesn’t take long and it’s a snap to do.  The front passenger seat also folds flat which will allow you carry items up to three metres long. The MPV has 2 620 litres of luggage space with the two rear seat rows folded down. The third-row seats incorporate an integral floor cover which can be expanded to provide a flat load platform for the rear compartment. The 60/40 split rear seats can be folded flat, tumbled forward or removed completely to provide 2 410 litres of luggage space behind the front seats .Or 1 205 two-litre bottles of Coke.

However, it is as a people mover that the Connect comes into its own. The test vehicle was the 1.6 EcoBoost Titanium which is mated  to a six-speed automatic transmission. For the technically minded, the four cylinder turbo petrol engine delivers 110 kW at 5 700 rpm and 240 N.m at 1 759 rpm, with a top speed of 176 km/h, according to Ford.

Average consumption, Ford said, is 8 litres/100km* and CO2 emissions of 184 g/km*.

My figures for fuel use in a town and country cycle were closer to 9 litres/100km  and that included being stuck in gridlocked traffic because of road works and  driving along some of the more twisty passes in and around the Western Cape.  It has an 80 litre fuel tank and with some judicious driving and a light foot you could travel about 900 kilometres.

The Tourneo Connect attracted a lot of attention from the “kyk daars” especially as they are not a familiar sight on our roads. But I predict you’ll soon see more of them. Lots of people stopped to look and ask me about it while I was waiting at Cape Town International to collect passengers. And that’s not surprising. It is a stylish looking vehicle with sliding doors on both sides, which means you don’t have to get out on the wrong side of the road.

Some features include a reverse camera and parking sensors all round, airbags and the alphabet soup of safety features: traction and stability control.

I really enjoyed driving the Tourneo. As with all Ford products the handling is superb. Unusually for a vehicle of this kind,  it drives and handles like a car. Sometimes people who buy bakkies or “buses” are disappointed when they find the ride hard and uncomfortable. Not so with the Ford Tourneo: it’s smooth and sucks up all the bumps and humps in the road. It is a peppy engine with a lot of vooma when you need it to overtake. The automatic transmission worked well and there was no sign of hunting and there is plenty of feedback from the power steering, controls are on the steering wheel, and a tyre pressure monitoring system is fitted to all models. The five seat configuration is standard but if you want seven seats it’s available as an optional extra.

Driver comfort is excellent: the seats give plenty of support while visibility is good all round. The Titanium is fitted with a panoramic glass roof and an electrically powered sunshield. There is a centre armrest and an overhead storage bin. Leg and headroom is more than ample for everyone. I was just a little disappointed with the interior: especially the instrument cluster, which looks a bit old and doesn’t quite match the classiness of the rest of the Tourneo. There is a host of stowage areas: a hidden box above the instrument cluster which includes a 12V socket for mobiles or music players, a lockable glove box, a centre console with the ubiquitous cup holders and you can put 1.5 litre bottles in the front door bins.

The Tourneo is pretty agile for its weight (3 500kg) and with its small turning circle it is a cinch to park.

Ford developed and tested many of the key features using 3-D virtual reality prototypes at its Computer Automated Virtual Environment (3-D Cave) in Cologne, Germany. Engineers wore 3-D glasses and sat in a prototype car interior to test and refine the opening height of the tailgate, improve visibility for driver and back passengers, and to reduce the reflections from interior parts in the windscreen and side glass. The Transit and Tourneo models which are part of the manufacturer’s global product strategy are produced in Valencia, Spain.
The question i always ask myself after testing a vehicle is: would I buy one? In this case the Ford Tourneo gets a resounding yes. It’s the ideal family transport, either to use on your daily commute, to take the kids to school with all the kit for their extra-murals and to go on a long trip. And of course, it’s a pleasure to drive.

BLOB) The Ford Tourneo Connect costs from R367 900. It comes standard with a 60 000km service plan and a four-year 120 000km comprehensive warranty. Service intervals are at 20 000km on the EcoBoost petrol models.

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