What is it?
The Ford Grand Tourneo Connect is the latest entrant into the boxy, basic MPV market, thus far dominated by van-derived models such as the Citroën Berlingo Multispace.
The Tourneo Connect is different, because it is based on the same platform as the Focus, C-Max and Kuga – even in Transit Connect panel van models.
Although the nameplate might sound new, it in fact replaces a slow-selling model that has been on sale since 2002. Last year that model sold just 80 units. Ford expects the new Tourneo Connect to shift some 3000 in a full year.
New for 2014 though is the Grand moniker. At around £2000 more than the standard Tourneo Connect, you get an extra 400mm in length. Like the standard Tourneo Connect, the Grand is a five seater and you’ll need to tick the £240 box on the options list for that third row.
Ford is upfront about who’ll buy it too. Although it expects to find favour with families seeking a little more practicality than the fractionally smaller Grand C-Max offers, it says a significant number will find their way onto the roads as taxis or converted to allow wheelchair access.
What's it like?
Nothing like you’d expect. Van-derived people carriers like the Berlingo Multispace and Fiat Doblo Family are generally crude and unsophisticated. The Ford Grand Tourneo Connect is neither of those things, thanks to that passenger car platform.
Mechanical refinement is class-leading, a point emphasised by a drive of the Transit Connect, which shorn of some of the Tourneo’s soundproofing was noisy and rattly on the move. Unsurprisingly it lacks the dynamic flair of the C-Max, with steering that isn’t as sharp and a chassis setup that prefers not to be rushed.
Perhaps that’s a good thing. Neither of the 1.6-litre Duratorq diesels offer sparkling performance. The high-output 114bhp version tested here (a 94bhp version is also offered – and expected to be the big seller) take more than 14 seconds to reach 62mph But, again, that refinement comes into play – while it takes a while to wind on the pace, its not like thrashing a van.
Given the target market, little of that will be as important as its ease of use. The dash is neatly designed, and although it is probably best described as hardwearing, there are plenty of passenger car touches and good equipment levels. There’s plenty of room, as you’d expect for driver and passenger, and thanks to good all-round visibility, is easy to thread through tight gaps. Ford says its commercial vehicles, and by extension this, are now designed “around the driver”, and it shows.
There are two sliding doors affording excellent access to the rear. Ford says the 839mm opening width is the best in class. Legroom and, predictably, headroom is excellent. The second row of seats splits and folds 60:40, but the lack of three individual seats seems slightly odd. Folding and replacing the seats isn’t as intuitive as Ford’s best MPVs, and requires a fair bit of manhandling.