Tour the town
GAVIN MYERS places the Blue Oval’s latest addition to the people moving sphere under our spotlight
Since we first drove Ford’s new Tourneo eight-seat people mover at its local launch (see FOCUS, May 2013) we’ve been looking forward to having it on test to put it through its paces in everyday life. Happily too, the unit delivered was the low-power, short-wheelbase (SWB) Ambiente. Good, as on launch we only had the opportunity to sample the mid-power, long-wheelbase (LWB) upper-spec Trend model.
That model proved responsive and comfortable on the road, but did present slight difficulty when manoeuvring in tight spaces, its wheelbase measuring 3 300 mm as opposed to the 2 933 mm of our test unit. That extended wheelbase was reflected in a vehicle length of 5 339 mm, in comparison to the SWB length of 4 972 mm. For interest sake, both vehicles are 2 290 mm wide and stand 2 020 mm high.
So, the Tourneo is a large vehicle; yet its handsome exterior somehow hides its bulk well. When some family came to visit from overseas, the SWB version we had on test also proved that, despite being the smaller option, it was well suited to the task of ferrying passengers. While the second row of seats provided comfortable, spacious accommodation, the third row proved a little tighter. When fitted to SWB versions of the Tourneo, these “bucketed” seats do not have a reclining function, but do fold and can be removed for extra loading space when needed. However, this did prove a difficult one-man job. Access to the passenger compartment is by right and left sliding doors and a large, heavy, single-piece lifting tailgate.
The interior, with its stylish dashboard, proved functional despite some controls being a stretch for the driver. The ventilation controls, for example, are placed two-thirds of the way across to the passenger’s side. The functional aspect comes in with clever storage spaces (especially the one above the instrument binnacle) and a brilliant portable device holder, which places the driver’s cellphone (for example) within easy reach.
The interior environment is otherwise as comfortable and high quality as we have come to expect from Ford. Passenger comfort proved good all round, thanks to the Tourneo’s soft, compliant suspension. Despite this, chassis control is good on road, the Tourneo managing its floaty ride and 2 061 kg (tare) bulk well. Parking and manoeuvrability proved relatively easy – the vehicle’s good visibility and wide-angle side mirrors are a boon.
The 2,2-litre diesel engine produces 74 kW at 3 500 r/min and 310 Nm at 1 300 r/min and, despite being the low power unit, is strong and willing when called upon. Ford claims 6,5 l/100 km fuel consumption on the combined-cycle and 172 g/km CO2 emissions.
It is mated to a smooth and solid six-speed gearbox. Our only gripe with the drive is the brakes, which did not feel strong or sharp enough for the vehicle’s size.
Happily, even this entry-level model comes fitted as standard with a range of active and passive safety features, including Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Hill Launch Assist (HLA), Load Adaptive Control (LAC), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Emergency Brake Warning, Roll-Over Mitigation (ROM), six airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchorages. Ford says the Tourneo Custom is the first new vehicle in its class to achieve a maximum five-star Euro N-CAP safety rating.
Added peace of mind comes in the form of a three-year/unlimited km roadside assistance plan, a four-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, a five-year/90 000 km service plan and a five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty.
The Tourneo Custom 2,2 low-power SWB Ambiente retails at R396 600 and offers everything one might reasonably want from an eight-seat people mover. Private buyers might opt for the Trend model, with its slightly higher-power and extra kit, but the Ambiente model as tested should serve fleets with the need for a people mover well.