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.
Ford has long ploughed its own furrow when it comes to its commercial vehicle range, but that's about to change. The company's partnership with Volkswagen will see all future Blue Oval brand van models paired with their VW counterparts. Which means that the next Ford Transit Connect will share all its engineering with the current fifth generation Volkswagen Caddy. Which in turn means that the People Carrier version of that Ford, the Tourneo Connect model, must be a Blue Oval version of the MPV model 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.
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 sevenspeed 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 sixspeed manual gearbox and does not compromise interior space or loading height. Engine under-shield protection is available to support customers who frequently drive on rough surfaces.
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 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, there's Ford's latest 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 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 variants (it's 1,913mm, 1100mm and 317mm for L1 variants).
We don't yet have prices for this rejuvenated Tourneo Connect, but we can expect it to undercut its Volkswagen Caddy MPV cousin, which for guidance, starts at around £26,000 for a short wheelbase five-seat model, with prices stretching up to around the £30,000 mark for the kind of decently specified version most families would want. 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', 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. Inside, it's possible to specify a digital cluster instrument display in place of the usual traditional dials - that's standard on 'Sport' models and optional with 'Titanium' and 'Active' variants. Most derivatives will come with the larger 10-inch SYNC central touchscreen - apart from 'Trend' spec, which gets an 8.25-inch middle monitor. If you've got the bigger display, it'll feature a FordPass connect modem to help you stay connected while on the road. And available Online Navigation, which uses cloud data to offer live traffic report updates and details on alternative routes, nearby fuel stations, online map updates and parking details along your journey. There's also a FordPass smartphone app so you can remotely interact with your car.
The EcoBoost petrol and EcoBlue diesel engines in use here have been optimised for fuel efficiency, the most economical 2.0 EcoBlue diesel 102PS manual model managing up to 58.8mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions from 126g/km. You can replicate those same figures with the 122PS version of this diesel unit. If you go for the 2.0-litre EcoBlue 122PS automatic, you're looking at up to 55.3mpg and up to 134g/km. That same top diesel engine with all-wheel drive returns up to 53.2mpg and up to 139g/km. As for the 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol model, well with that you're looking at up to 44.8mpg and up to 144g/km as a manual; or up to 42.8mpg and up to 150g/km as an automatic. Auto Start-Stop technology is standard across the range as you'd expect. And both diesel engines feature the VW Group-pioneered 'twin-dosing' system that injects AdBlue upstream of two selective catalytic converters to help reduce nitrogen oxides, and are also compatible with Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) and Gas to Liquids (GTL) alternative fuels. 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.
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.