A price to be paid for this 'people mover's' practicality
Van-based Tourneo has five or seven seats and handy sliding doors
ONLY the other evening at a perfectly civil 'do' I was accosted by a few people asking: "When are you going to write about something we can afford?"
Timely, I hope, was the coincidence of those comments and my first drive in the new Ford Tourneo Connect.
Put crudely this is what they call a 'people mover' based on a van.
That is a little unfair because they say it was planned as both a commercial and a passenger vehicle. It was also well decked out for comfort and there was a lot of the technological stuff you find in true passenger cars.
Yet my question from the moment I sat in was: Would you buy one of these for €24,000 or so? Or would you buy a conventional people carrier and spend a few thousand euro more?
There are two versions: a five-seater and a seven-seater called Grand Tourneo. The former looks decent enough; the latter has stretch marks and I didn't like it much.
I drove everything put in front of me and you can take your pick from the accompanying lineup and prices. They did not have the 75bhp petrol or diesel. The pick of the rest is easily the 1.6-litre diesel 95bhp in the 5-seater.
There was a lot of room; we did all sorts of seat gymnastics, especially with the three rows. Seats fold flat, slide forward; even the front passenger seat folds down so you can carry a three-metre object.
I can see the 7-seater being a choice for someone with a small business, B&B, hotel, or pub for ferrying people or bits and pieces that need ferrying. Its big attraction is that it can double up as a passenger car and commercial workhorse.
The two rear sliding doors are so handy for parking in restricted areas – a big plus.
The rear tailgate is huge and plunges deep because the loading sill is so low.
This is a fast growing segment in Europe and globally but I'm not sure we Irish have caught the bug yet.
They expect to sell between 100 and 200 here next year.
Globally, they are forecasting a 25pc increase over the next couple of years.
There were a lot of little places to put things: overhead stowage, cubby holes etc. Boot space is much better in the 5dr with all the seats up, obviously. In the seven-seater, both rows of rear seats fold flat.
The third row will also slide forward and back to give more or less luggage room.
You can have roof racks if you want them and passengers, driver and side/curtain airbags are standard.
I kept wondering, though, if a Kia Carens 7-seater, which costs a little more, wouldn't be a better buy for a family. But the Volkswagen Caddy Life is seen as a main competitor and it has sold 120.
Ford claim it is competitively priced against the Caddy.
Yes, I could see families/businesses getting lots of work from this.
However, I reckon a lot more people would be interested if the price kicked off nearer the €20,000 mark.