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Ford's new people-mover has flair

Boxy people-carriers can tend to look, well, boxy and van-like, but Ford’s new Tourneo makes a valiant effort at some design flair with its aerodynamic front facade.

Although it’s based on the Transit panelvan, the eight-seater Tourneo looks stylish enough to rock up at a posh hotel without the concierge mistakenly waving you to the delivery entrance.

This people-hauler has aerodynamic flair for all

The cabin, too, has no workhorse or blue-collar feel to it. The modern dash looks like it comes out of a car, while the cloth covering on the inner door panels and the carpeted floors give the interior of this bus a warm and plush feel.

Tourneo is Ford’s first entry in South Africa’s people-hauler market and it’s available in short- and long-wheelbase guises.

Both seat eight people but the LWB version has extra luggage space behind the third seat row.

JUMBO-SIZED

Short-wheelbase is a misnomer because even the smaller Tourneo is jumbo-sized, and towers over a regular passenger car.

Space is what it’s all about and the leg- and headroom inside this family-hauler is cavernous, so there’s no unwanted intimacy among passengers. Ingenious versatility makes a giant lego set of the Tourneo’s interior, and the two rear rows of seats can be folded into multiple configurations and removed in segments or completely.

There’s some gymnastics and huffing and puffing required to do all this though, so it isn’t a task for little old ladies.

There are several nooks and crannies to stash your clutter, including a lidded receptacle on top of the dash which comes with a 12V charging socket.

But there’s no storage bin between the front seats, which is something I’d have preferred instead of the walk-through room to the rear.

We tested the higher-specced Tourneo short-wheelbase Trend (it’s also available as a lesser-equipped Ambiente) and the R407 800 price tag comes standard with a decent stack of toys, including a trip computer; front and rear aircon; electric front windows; remote central locking; cruise control with a speed limiter; park distance sensors; and a Ford Sync audio system with USB, Bluetooth, voice control, and steering wheel controls.

Safety’s well taken care of with front, side and curtain airbags; ABS brakes; and stability control; and the aftermarket support includes a four-year/120 000km warranty and five-year/90 000km service plan.

GUTSY TORQUE

A single 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine serves duty in the multi-model Tourneo and Transit ranges, but available in three power ratings: 74kW, 92kW and 114kW. The gutsiest one is reserved only for the Transit panelvan, with the people-carrying Tourneo available with the two lesser-powered engines.

The subject of this test, the Tourneo Trend, is moved along by the middle-spec 92kW turbodiesel. This isn’t mega-muscle but the accompanying 350Nm is the kind of gutsy torque needed for hauling heavy loads of people, and it’s also rated to tow a 1400kg braked trailer.

We only filled the Tourneo to half its eight-seater capacity but it hauled those four passengers without breaking into a sweat. Ford’s big people-mover accelerates with respectable gusto, and is easily able to cruise at speeds that will attract unwelcome attention from clipboard-toting revenue collectors. There’s some low-rev turbo lag, but as this is a six-speed manual transmission (no auto is available in the range) it’s overcome easily enough by correct gear application.

The Tourneo gulps kilometres with plush ride-quality, even on harsh roads, and makes a long-distance cruiser par excellence.

The engine’s not the most quiet diesel around and sounds quite vocal and tractor-like at times, especially when idling. When cruising it settles into a relatively non-intrusive drone, though. Fuel consumption averaged 9.6 litres per 100km – economical for such a behemoth.

For its size the Tourneo’s relatively easy to drive, with light steering and a surprisingly tight turning circle, while huge windows, coupled with giant side mirrors that have integrated blind-spot mirrors, also provide goldfish bowl-like visibility.

Its manoeuvrability in tight spaces is eased by having no long bonnet to peer over, and you see exactly where the nose ends.

At the rear, reverse sensors guide you by means of warning beeps. But the positioning of the bee sting aerial on top of the high roof isn’t a bright design, because it catches on garage entrances.

VERDICT

The Tourneo’s an appealing new addition to South Africa’s competitive people-carrying segment, already contested by rivals like the Hyundai H1, Opel Vivaro, and VW Kombi. In terms of engine output and spec, its closest rival is the R461 000 Kombi 2.0 TDl with its 103kW and 340Nm outputs, against which the Ford is well priced. -Star Motoring

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