If it looks like a van, it goes like a van and its doors slide like a van, it must drive like… actually, it drives surprisingly well. Since Ford’s dynamic reinvention during the mid-1990s, we’ve become accustomed to its cars steering, riding and handling a certain way. A pleasing way.
And what’s particularly gratifying about getting into a Grand Tourneo Connect is that, within the first 50 yards, you can tell that it has been developed with the same ethos in mind.
It steers nearly as well as a Fiesta or a Focus, with linearity, accuracy and just the kind of torque build-up off of straight-ahead – the steering’s weight change, to you and me – that makes it seem like you can actually feel the turning forces building up in the front wheels.
This is the kind of tuning that is key to making a Ford feel the way that it does, and despite a roof that sits 1852mm from the ground, the Grand Tourneo Connect has been granted the same kind of attention. So it rides rather like a Ford, allowing control of its body movements to take some priority over the low-speed ride – although this is largely fine, too, because it’s on 55-profile tyres.
All of which is a pleasant surprise for what is a van at heart. Obviously, you can’t have everything. There is a 1785kg kerb weight and that high centre of gravity to contend with and, as plenty of Scottish engineers over the years have told us, there is no quibbling with the laws of physics. But Ford has done a better job here than, we suspect, most manufacturers would bother attempting.
Its braking distances are sound, although there’s considerable dive when you slam on the anchors. It’ll haul itself to rest in 49.6 metres from 70mph and in 2.9sec from 60mph in the dry, where 50 metres and 3.0sec are the yardsticks at which things start to bother us.
Likewise, it’s okay in the wet: a 3.2sec stopping time from 60mph and a distance of 55.1 metres. Handling is predictable. Stability control is standard and the traction control can be disabled while leaving the rest of the stability control in place.
That’s as it ought to be, allowing the car enough slip to extricate itself on low-friction surfaces but keeping the safety net intact elsewhere. In a high-speed emergency lane change, it feels like there’s no risk of a topple – and the stability control works deftly.