MOTORMOUTH: Good connection: Ford’s 2015 Grand Tourneo Connect 1.6 EcoBoost a/t
Beautiful where it counts
There’s nothing quite like a panelvan. It keeps your cargo dry while hiding it from prying eyes and it’s easy to load and unload. Going a step further, it follows that MPVs should really be more like vans – tall enough to load comfortably, have sliding back doors and be built for carrying “stuff” in the first place. Ford believes it has a solution based on Transit Connect, its International Van of the Year for 2014.
Derived from Ford Focus, it’s compact and hard-working. Its first generation was introduced in 2002 to replace the old Escort- and Fiesta-based Courier van ranges that ceased production that year. Tourneo Connect, our test MPV, is basically a Transit Connect with added windows and rear seats.
It comes in four models with three different engines, a pair of gearboxes and two body lengths. Short wheelbase versions, 1.0-litre EcoBoost Ambiente or Trend, are fitted with six-speed manual transmissions. Long wheelbase (400 mm longer) Grand Tourneo Connect offers a choice of 1.6 diesel engine with six-speed manual ‘box or 1.6 turbopetrol with six-speed automatic.
You may, if you wish, add an optional pair of seats to the original five-chair configuration – but only if you buy a LWB version with either of the bigger engines. These seats adjust forward and backward over about 10 centimetres to make the “boot” area bigger or knee room more generous. They can, like those in the second row, be folded flat.
Our test car was a LWB Grand Tourneo Connect with 1.6 EcoBoost petrol engine and automatic gearbox. Options fitted to it included the third row of chairs at R1820 and a Titanium Pack (front parking sensors and backup camera) for R4610.
Its workhorse roots showed in the tailgate that opens down to bumper level; spare wheel slung under the body; those sliding side doors (great for loading carry cots); removable second- and third row seats – you can get a bike in there with front wheel on – and its high roof.
Then there’s the full-width shelf above the windscreen, where driver and crew stored paperwork but you could dump mail, notebook or handbag; cloth seats with mechanical adjusters; two-part wing mirrors with extra-wide coverage in the lower halves and the van-like gear lever atop its tower. It even looks more formed for function than sculpted for sexiness.
Don’t dismiss it as too workmanlike – there are more than sufficient car-centric features to make it decently liveable. Comfortable, civilian suspension is one. Then there’s well-spaced gearing via the smooth automatic ‘box, a perky turbocharged engine, four airbags, a boatload of electronic braking and handling aids, disc brakes at both ends, a big sky roof to flood the interior with sunlight, fog lamps front and rear, cruise control, onboard computer, a six-speaker sound system with input plugs and Bluetooth, SYNC with 3.5-inch dot matrix display, satellite controls on the steering wheel, dual channel air conditioning, a wide-angle mirror for checking on the kids and, frankly, more cup holders and 12-volt sockets than you’ll ever need.
Storage to appease your inner pack rat includes dropboxes alongside the third row of seats, door bins all around, two seatback pockets, a tray in the rear armrest and a loose-lid stash in the second-row footwell. It’s about right for a slender novel or a tablet. There’s also an open tray in the central console, a decent cubby, a sunspecs holder and a hidden cache, with power socket, under the instrument cowling. That’s for dad’s cellphone.
There are a couple of things to watch out for: While the back gate practically opens itself, with gas struts doing most of the work, it demands firm closing. The tail lights go off when you have it right. Second, when lifting folded chairs back up, be sure to click them firmly into place or the seatbacks won’t flip upright again.
Finally, we reckon this car is like the person your mother wanted you to marry; somewhat plain to look at but practical, kind and helpful on the inside – where it counts.
Test unit from Ford SA press fleet
Price: R359 900 basic, R366 330 as tested
Engine: 1596 cc, four-cylinder, DOHC, direct injection turbopetrol
Power: 110 kW at 5700 rpm
Torque: 240 Nm between 1400 and 4000 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: About 11.1 seconds
Maximum: 176 km/h
Real life fuel consumption: About 10.1 l/100 km
Tank: 61 litres
Luggage: 1287 – 2620 litres, loaded to roof
Warranty: 4 years/120 000 km; with 3 years roadside assistance
Service plan: 3 years/60 000 km; at 20 000 km intervals
Pics by Quickpic NB: Manual version shown