PVs and minibuses rarely get complimented on their looks. Function dictates form in this segment and, at best, designers are able to only soften the box-like shape a little. The Ford Tourneo Connect – a short-wheelbase version of the seven-seater Grand Tourneo Connect – is an example of this, and wears Ford’s signature gaping grille and rear-swooping lamps together with the generic MPV squared-off rear end and a massive hatch.
The interior is a cosy space with top-class comfort, especially in the design of the driver’s seat that includes a good degree of height adjustment complemented by ample steering wheel rake and reach adjustment.
Above the instrument binnacle there is a panoramic view thanks to a huge (nearly square) windscreen and large side mirrors incorporate a separate section for a kerb view. Park sensors make reversing easier, but one needs to be mindful of the position of the front end when parking because the chin spoiler protrudes far and can scrape over a standard-sized kerb.
The oversized sun visors are welcome, but tend to be usable in only two positions, either straight down, where they block half of your visibility, or snapped right to the screen. When flipped to the side windows, the sun remains a problem due to a lack of an extension, which is an easy design fix that would improve visibility and therefore enhance safety. One other criticism of the interior – and something we’ve levelled at its sibling Kuga as well – is that the dash is rather fussy with too many audio buttons, and the infotainment displays are small by modern standards. There is a glut of buttons on the steering wheel too, which are awkward to use.
There’s plenty of cabin storage space with overhead bins above the front seats, as well as a lidded second section between front and rear seats. The front passenger seat also folds flat to reveal a large tray surface.
Gas struts lighten the effort needed to lift the rear seats. One quality issue on our test vehicle that proved problematic was the rear hatch, which was difficult to operate. When the “beep” indicator signalled that the door was open, we could not open it – once it even unlocked itself while we were driving – and the only way to close it was to give it a shove, which sometimes worked, other times not.
The big question is whether Ford’s acclaimed three-cylinder 998 cm3 Ecoboost that does duty in a variety of smaller Blue Oval models can cut it in a bigger vehicle like the Tourneo. It’s the only engine available for this model and we can report that even in this large body, which weighs 1 659 kg, it does a reasonable job. While 74 kW sounds low, the 170 N.m of torque provides acceptable acceleration, although you do tend to drive foot-flat to keep the bus on the boil. There is some turbo lag before the vanes get up to boost speed, which means you the need to slip the clutch on pullaway to avoid stalling, and we experienced some low-speed clutch judder. The 0-100 km/h time was a leisurely 14,49 seconds, but the six-speed manual gearbox is a delight with quick, positive shifts, although fifth and sixth ratios cannot always be used due to the tall gearing.
With a full complement of adult passengers on board the Connect will struggle to keep up with traffic, but ferrying children should not present a problem. More power would be required for prolonged load lugging, but at least altitude shouldn’t be an additional problem thanks to the compensating effect of the turbo. Steering has spot-on weighting and feel, and the suspension, with MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear, delivers a supple ride quality, at least by the standards of a van-based MPV.
Ford claims a fuel consumption figure of 5,6 L/100 km, though this figure is unlikely to matched in real-world driving conditions. However, even with our more realistic fuel consumption index figure of 6,72 L/100 km, given the Tourneo’s 61-litre fuel tank, you should get a driving range of over 900 km.
An ESP system comes as standard together with tyre pressure monitoring. Also included are hill-hold, torque vectoring control and trailer sway assist. Front, side and curtain airbags complete the safety package. A three-year/60 000 km service plan is included with service intervals pegged at 20 000 km.
What we have here is a spacious family vehicle that sports lots of headroom and a boot large enough for everyone’s luggage or sporting paraphernalia. Access is tops with large front doors, dual sliding side doors and a low load sill. The spare wheel is mounted under the body. In terms of its powerplant, the Tourneo’s little Ecoboost unit is on the edge of its capability in this MPV, but acceptable for a family with small kids. A larger engine would be a better bet if it was required to transport five adults.