Being totally slab-sided and square-cornered, the Connect offers huge cabin space. Passenger room is on a par with a large executive saloon in most respects, but headroom is even more abundant than that. Sliding rear doors make accessing the back seats easier in tight spaces; the front passenger seatback folds to accommodate extra-long loads.
The only disappointment is that the back seats don’t slide fore and aft – but they do tumble forwards to clear the way for really bulky loads. With everything folded, this car can carry 2410 litres of luggage. ‘Cargo’, more likely. It’s huge – the kind of car to just throw things into. Bikes, dogs, lounge furniture – you name it.
The compromises you’ll have to accept for that kind of space and value for money are on desirability, quality and rolling refinement. You’ll have noticed the first of those already – and frankly, you’ll either be willing to accept tooling around in something that looks so much like a van, or you won’t.
The Connect’s cabin, though entirely robust and functional, is only satisfactory on material quality. Some of the fittings and switches look and feel a bit basic. Not cheap – but certainly cheaper than you’d get on a proper passenger car. But relative to what you’ll find on a Doblo or Berlingo, they’re much more respectable.
To drive, the Connect is quietly impressive in lots of ways. It rides bumps in slightly stiff-legged fashion, and pogos a bit when the surface gets really bad - though would doubtless settle down the more load you put in it.
That apart, the car’s quite refined and handles perfectly well. The steering’s got good weight and directness, and feels consistent at all times. The body’s well controlled, remaining upright even when you’re cornering quickly. Grip levels are quite high and well-balanced; the car’s ever-stable but never inert or dull to drive. Ride apart, the Connect feels every inch the modern Ford passenger car.
And choosing a Connect with a 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine wouldn’t be the maddest thing you’ve ever done, either. The turbo triple is unexpectedly quiet, and while it doesn’t give the Connect much outright pace, it’s flexible and obliging throughout the rev range. You’ll need all six speeds on that gearbox in you want to hurry the car along – and with a heavy load aboard and climbing hard, you might want for a bit of low-end torque.
But times like that are few and far between. Mostly, the Ecoboost engine just makes the Connect strangely zesty, well-mannered – and reasonably frugal (mid-40s-mpg on our mixed test drive).