The Ford Tourneo Connect is one of a growing breed of van-derived cars designed for maximum space, cargo capacity – five or seven seats is the usual choice – and fun, in a utilitarian way. You may remember the days when they used to make vans out of Ford Escorts, for example, but now manufacturers have had to put the increasingly demanding side of commercial vehicles first, maximizing space and adding extra conveniences for delivery drivers and the like. .
The “civilized” Renault Kangoo and Citroen Berlingo were a couple of early entries, and the class got more accomplished and, frankly, the “cars” bigger and bigger over the years. The industry calls them “recreational activity vehicles” or LAVs (I’m not kidding), but for obvious reasons, that abbreviation doesn’t feature much in the marketing literature.
There are quite a few around now, including a whole family of electric-only Stellantis models – the latest Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life, plus a diesel-engined Toyota sibling. The Renault Kangoo and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz T-Class are also siblings, while this new Ford Tourneo is a rebadged VW Caddy. The other five- to seven-seat compact on the market is the Dacia Jogger, more like a car and exceptional value.
Well, let’s go back to the Tourneo. Inside, there’s no mistaking its van origins. This is good because it is extremely spacious and versatile. There are storage spaces everywhere, even on the roof, and an immense sense of space. You can specify a five- or seven-seat version, each on long or shorter wheelbases, and you can flip, fold and remove the rear rows of seats to fit, all quite easily. The laws of physics have not been abolished, so more passenger space equals less luggage space and vice versa. However, the very long seven-seat version I tested should suit even the largest families. With its cheery, durable blue-and-gray fabric upholstery, it looked just like a mobile playroom.
Ford Tourneo Connect active
Price: £33,296 (as tested, from £28,409)
Displacement: 2.0l diesel, 7 speed automatic, FWD
Power Output (PS): 122
Maximum Speed (mph): 106
0 to 60 (seconds): 13.3
Fuel Consumption (mpg): 52.9
CO2 emissions (WLTP, g/km): 140
On the outside, they’ve done their best with looks and the car doesn’t sit too high in the air. The tinted windows, smart alloys, and bright blue paint job on mine made it look almost classy. Plus points for practicality are the sliding side doors (both sides), useful for tight corners. On the downside, the tailgate needs quite a bit of space, even if it offers good coverage in the rain. Because of this and its overall length of 4,853mm it’s a bit of a pain to park – around 15ft, a little shorter than a BMW 5 Series and slightly over the standard UK parking space. Double folding doors would be better.
The diesel engine is willing and economical, and the seven-speed automatic is smooth enough, but there’s not much else to praise, and it doesn’t really invite the enthusiast to put it to the test (nor should it be). A better choice is the 1.5-litre petrol engine, given current consumer hostility towards diesel, not helped by VW’s Dieselgate scandal. You’ll get outstanding economy with both, even with a full load of seven adults plus clobber.
There’s the usual suite of driver assistance features, accessed via buttons on the steering wheel. Extra luxury comes with the Active version, including full connectivity via a 6-inch touchscreen. However, that unit is a bit of a VW that isn’t that user-friendly, with its touch-sensitive slide controls for heating and radio volume being difficult to use. I also found one of the sliding doors a bit reluctant to close. Traditionally, vans live short, heavily used lives and cover huge miles in short periods of time. So they’re hardy, but not necessarily designed for the kind of longer ownership period that many private buyers prefer; Still, it’s a great car for the money.