Last week one of my childhood dreams almost came true. Having grown up being interested in cars and desperate to drive before I could even walk it’s been a real treat that my current role in the mountain bike and kitesurfing industries is now taking me in the direction of cars too. I used to watch Top Gear with my eyes pinned open and pray that one-day I might get the chance to have Jeremy Clarkson’s job. Little did I know that when my opportunity arose it would be D-list celebrity Peter Andre making a cameo walk-through appearance (at the airport) rather than the Stig!
Ford are launching the Tourneo Connect as a brand new offering into their people carrier and multi-purpose vehicle range. IMB were invited to attend the launch in Munich to test drive the line-up and see how it fared as a possible biking adventure wagon.
It’s great that the motor industry is taking more of an interest into the extreme sports world and are beginning to understand that people want to be able to transport a whole host of sports equipment and weekend warrior toys, as well as family and pets, without having to battle a Level 8 game of Tetris every time it comes to loading up the boot.
The Tourneo Connect is aimed at the budget conscious buyer looking for space, practical loading area, versatile seating and comfort all packaged with an economical engine.
The exterior design will no doubt be subject to some debate; a love/hate relationship like that people have with Marmite, or maybe people will just remain indifferent, after all it’s a method of getting from A to B with all your kit inside. With the raised rear space, large windows and roof skylight even the Pope would be at home travelling in the Tourneo Connect…so if it’s good enough for him then it’s more than good enough for your nearest and dearest, be they humans or bikes.
Ford openly admits the Tourneo Connect is designed to fit around the realities of life, rather than turning heads with Natalie Portman good looks. Offering two sizing options, the regular Tourneo Connect with 5 seats and the slightly larger Grand with 7 seats, the interior is completely geared up to be as flexible and practical as possible. Everywhere you look there’s a little cubbyhole, storage box, cup holder, hooks, overhead shelves and racks, pull down tables…. With more hidden stowage space than the Millennium Falcon there is a very high possibility you will lose more than one pair of sunglasses, but at least you won’t find yourself sitting on them!
The rear seats in in the Grand fold neatly forwards and down with a clever fold out backing creating a flat loading area. You could easily put an inflatable double mattress on top and turn the back into an overnight boudoir. The front passenger seat also folds to allow longer items, such as surfboards, to be carried as it extends the available load length up to 3 metres. If you don’t fancy rolling your bike into the carpeted interior then there’s also the option for a custom fitted Thule bike rack on the roof.
The Tourneo feels incredibly roomy inside with plenty of head space – Dr. Seuss’ cat wouldn’t even have to remove his extraordinarily large top hat. The large panoramic glass roof increases the amount of light and feeling of space even further.
Access to this incredibly versatile interior hasn’t been left to convention either with the rear passenger doors being a very large sliding affair on each side, and the boot a full size overhead hatch.
After plenty of exploring inside it was time for the more fun part of getting the Tourneo Connect out on the road. Up front the cockpit is home to all the latest Ford mod-cons and swish features including their Ford SYNC system that works seamlessly with your phone to make and receive calls, play music, chose contacts, and it can all be voice controlled too.
The 1-litre EcoBoost petrol engine model was a pleasant surprise, it felt far more lively and capable than you’d expect from a 1-litre especially when you take into consideration it’s carrying the equivalent space of a small London apartment on its back. The 1.6-litre TDCi, 6-speed engine was a very smooth drive, more responsive as you’d expect, and with a claimed fuel consumption of 60mpg when cruising it is exceedingly fuel-efficient as well.
One of the bonuses with the Tourneo Connect is that it drives and feels just like a regular car, but with the added advantage of a ton of space and decent seating for passengers too. When it comes to biking trips most people wish they could have a full-blown van for the ease of loading, yet all too often, daily life and family commitments don’t really warrant that ‘luxury’ and a regular car is the de rigueur vessel of choice. The Tourneo Connect is pitched between the two and, as one of the other more motoring focussed journalists asked “is it a car or is it a van?’, it ticks both boxes pretty well. All the comfort of a car with the practicalities of a mini-van.
For more info and to find out when these will be hitting your shores see the Ford website