Model: Ford Tourneo Connect Zetec 1.6 TDCi, from £16,395 on the road.
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel unit developing 95bhp.
Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission as standard, driving the front wheels.
Performance: Maximum speed 100mph, 0-62mph 15.2 seconds.
Economy: 56.5mpg.
CO2 Rating: 130g/km.


THERE are lifestyle cars and then there are lifestyle cars and then there’s Ford’s Tourneo Connect.

It looks boxy because it shares much with a van. However, and this is really important, it’s not based on a van. Therefore, you can kiss goodbye to lumpy handling and a rattly ride and refinement levels to rival that of a, well, a van.

To be fair, vans have improved immeasurably in recent years and , to a point that they are more car-like than most critics will give them credit. Ford has taken this one step further by basing its new Transit Connect range on a car platform.

The switch means that its mid-size alternative MPV also delivers a more refined and engaging driving experience. Factor in a selection of Ford’s latest engines, 1.0-litre three-cylinder and 1.6-litre four-pot petrol plus 1.6-litre diesel, and the Blue Oval’s offering appears to be a good one on paper.

Where the Tourneo Connect differs from its rivals is in execution, the boxy Ford is no streamlined glamour model. Then there’s the issue of cabin access. Conventional doors might look good but they’re of little use in tight spaces. Enter the Tourneo Connect with its straight-up-and-down profile and, unsurprisingly, sliding rear doors. Get the van jokes out of the way because the concept works.

The Tourneo Connect’s upright driving position, great forward visibility, light and airy cabin plus those sliding rear doors make for a practical ownership experience.

In five-seat guise the Tourneo Connect’s rear seats can be folded up and completely removed if needed, while the seven-seat version boasts the ability to easily convert from passenger car to holdall with a flat load bay. Whichever you choose, the various engines offer a good balance of performance and economy, with the diesel options predictably proving to be the smarter choices if you value economy and the ability to maintain a decent pace.

And just because the Tourneo Connect looks like a van with windows doesn’t mean it feels like one inside. The cabin ambience is up there with a Focus, as is the quality and execution of the switchgear, displays and infotainment performance.

That even the entry-level car gets Bluetooth, DAB and a USB connection for music players should be enough to convince even the fence-sitters that this Ford is a match for its more streamlined opposition.