Ev­ery­thing the av­er­age con­sumer needs in a ve­hi­cle

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AMIL UMRAW

WHETHER you’re look­ing a trades­man look­ing for a com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle or a dad look­ing for a re­ally prac­ti­cal fam­ily car — Ford’s new Connect range ticks all the boxes and adds a few of its own.

Although the com­pact C-seg­ment panel van and MPV sec­tors claim a small share of the South African mar­ket, Ford’s of­fer­ings of the Tran­sit and the Tour­neo sought to change that by pro­vid­ing ev­ery­thing the av­er­age con­sumer needs in a ve­hi­cle — and they have.

Start­ing with the Tour­neo, which comes in a choice of three spec­i­fi­ca­tion lev­els and two wheel­base con­fig­u­ra­tions, the ba­sic Am­bi­ente and Trend mod­els sit steady on a short-wheel base five-seater foun­da­tion. The “Grand Tour­neo” Ti­ta­nium de­riv­a­tives have a longer wheel­base with a five- or seven-seat of­fer­ing.

All this with a price vari­a­tion of R269 900 to R279 900 for the Am­bi­ente and Trend, which, mind you, come with Ford’s much-loved and award-win­ning 1.0 litre Eco­Boost en­gines; or R359 900 to R367 900 for the high-end Grand Tour­neo with a 1,6 litre au­to­matic petrol Eco­Boost en­gine or a 1,6 litre TDCI.

I had the op­por­tu­nity of city-slick­ing through the bustling streets of Jo­han­nes­burg in both the Tour­neo and the Grand Tour­neo TDCI.

Be­fore start­ing it up, the sheer space in­side the ve­hi­cle and the adapt­abil­ity of the seat­ing, which fold quickly and eas­ily into a flat, un­ob­structed lug­gage plat­form was very im­pres­sive. The pas­sen­ger seat can also be folded, en­abling one to pack items up to three me­tres long.

Ford re­ally put a lot of thought into how prac­ti­cal they could make it in terms of ev­ery­day use, with a host of dif­fer­ent stowage ar­eas and more than one 12V socket so that the kids don’t fight over the phone charger on long trips.

The smart MPV of­fers 2 410 litres of lug­gage space in the smaller range and 2 620 in the larger mod­els, with the rear seats folded of course, which es­sen­tially con­verts the en­tire ve­hi­cle from a pas­sen­ger mover to an all-pur­pose trans­porter at your will.

Driv­ing both vari­a­tions was bliss. Be­sides the large dash­board in front of me, I didn’t feel at all like I had a large ve­hi­cle be­hind. A short turn­ing space and a re­spon­sive steer­ing had much to do with it, with am­ple power at the foot to re­ally boost around Jo­han­nes­burg traf­fic.

With Ford’s su­perb SYNC sys­tem stan­dard, voice con­trol, Blue­tooth and steer­ing con­trols el­e­vate the range into an en­tirely new cat­e­gory, merg­ing luxury and ver­sa­til­ity into one ve­hi­cle.

Now, on to the Tran­sit, which has been ranked with top spots in the “In­ter­na­tional Van of the Year”.

The Tran­sit of­fers op­er­a­tors su­perb fuel econ­omy, load car­ry­ing abil­ity and dura­bil­ity, with the 1.6 TDCI en­gine of­fer­ing fru­gal con­sump­tion of just 4,9L/100 km and a max­i­mum pay­load of just over a ton and a to­tal load vol­ume of 3 222 litres.

The dual side-hinged rear doors can be opened 180 de­grees to fa­cil­i­tate eas­ier load­ing and the low-slung sus­pen­sion makes it much eas­ier to get a fork­lift in there.

There’s also a wide-open­ing slid­ing side door just to make things a bit eas­ier.

Stan­dard body­side fix­ing points are present in the load com­part­ment as well as a few more on the floor, al­low­ing you to tie down just about any­thing and ev­ery­thing.

Un­for­tu­nately I didn’t get a chance to get be­hind the wheel, but the in­te­rior driv­ing bay of­fers com­fort and so­phis­ti­ca­tion to any­one driv­ing the ve­hi­cle.

Whether it’s for a fleet or pri­vately owned, Ford’s SYNC tech­nol­ogy comes into play again, af­ford­ing long dis­tance driv­ers prac­ti­cal­ity and ease of en­ter­tain­ment that sur­passes all other com­mer­cial ca­reers in its class.

With a price tag of R272 900, it’s worth ev­ery cent you’re pay­ing for it.

So the ver­dict is quite sim­ple. It’s a great ve­hi­cle for ev­ery­day use by ev­ery­day peo­ple. Whether you need a com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle for your busi­ness or some­thing for your en­tire fam­ily, Ford’s new Connect range does it all and more.

With the near­est com­peti­tor be­ing the bulkier Hyundai H1, which comes with a price tag of R326 900 for the panel van and 357 900 for the pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle, the Ford is com­pet­i­tive in its class and a well-rounded ve­hi­cle that can do just about any­thing, be­sides go­ing off-road of course. • amil.umraw@wit­ness.co.za

PHO­TOS: SUP­PLIED

Ford Tour­neo Connect.

Ford Tran­sit Connect load­ing bay.

Ford Tour­neo Connect in­te­rior.

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