Ford’s new model onslaught is well underway with a total of 10 new models expected this year alone, which is exciting news for new car buyers in South Africa. Ford has already introduced the Fusion sedan to market and has now expanded offerings in the LCV and MPV segments with the new Transit Connect panel van and the Tourneo Connect MPV.
The vehicle launch took place in Johannesburg this week and I was there to drive the newcomers.
Ford Transit Connect Takes Care Of BusinessThe Transit Connect is the third model to join the Transit range of commercial vehicles and was acknowledged as the 2014 Van Of The Year. Bragging rights aside, the Transit Connect in Long Wheelbase (LWB) form is built to serve the needs of large and small businesses with a total load capacity of 3 222 litres, payload capacity of 1 004 kg and a 1 200kg tow rating for a braked trailer.
Loading any item is made easier with two side-hinged rear doors that open 180-degrees as well as a side sliding door which, offers additional access to the loading area. Six tie-down points on the load floor allow for the securing of items.
The Transit Connect is available in Ambiente trim and the driver’s cabin comes fitted with a two-speaker Bluetooth audio system with USB and Aux connectors. Steering is power assisted and the steering wheel is rake and reach adjustable with mounted controls. The interior is well constructed and dominated by hard-wearing plastics. There’s also ample storage space in the doors and overhead tray, and electric windows are standard.
Safety FeaturesThe Transit Connect offers Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD) and Electronic Brake Assist (EBA). Additional safety features include Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control, Hill Launch Assist, Load Adaptive Control, Roll-Over Mitigation and Trailer Sway Control. A driver airbag is fitted as standard, but a passenger airbag can be fitted as an option for R1 830.
For an additional R8 060, you can opt for the Ambiente Option Pack which includes front and rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera, fog lights with adaptive corner lighting, a tyre inflation monitor and LED lighting in the load compartment. This option pack should be considered if you want to avoid bumping into unexpected objects, as rear visibility is hampered by the steel bulkhead directly behind you.
How does the Transit Connect Drive?Under the hood, the Transit Connect is fitted with the tried and tested 1.6-litre TDCi engine that offers up 85 kW and 285 Nm. A 6-speed manual transmission puts those figures onto the tarmac via the 16-inch front wheels.
This is a solid engine that has enough grunt to serve the purpose of the vehicle. The launch route offered a mix of urban and highway driving and the Transit Connect felt confident and composed throughout, with gear shifts being smooth and clean. However, it will be interesting to see how it performs with a full load. Ford claims 4.9L/100km on the combined cycle and I managed to achieve 6.2L/100km during my short stint behind the wheel.
Overall, the Transit Connect seems to be a good offering when compared to its main rival, the Volkswagen Caddy. Time will tell how well the Transit Connect is received in South Africa.
Ford Transit Connect – Price in South AfricaFord Transit Connect 1.6 TDCi Ambiente LWB – R272 900
The price includes a 4-year / 120 000 km warranty, 4-year / 60 000km Service Plan, 3-year / unlimited km Roadside Assistance and 5-year / unlimited km Corrosion Warranty. Service intervals are set at 15 000km.
Ford Tourneo Connect for Active LifestylesThe new Tourneo Connect MPV comes to market in both Short Wheelbase (SWB) and Long Wheelbase (LWB) formats with a choice of three trim levels including Ambiente, Trend and Titanium.
Tourneo FeaturesThe SWB five-seater Tourneo Connect in Ambiente trim benefits from electric power-assisted steering, a tyre pressure monitoring system, air conditioning, auto stop/start and an Active Grille Shutter. A four-speaker Bluetooth audio system with USB and Aux inputs are included along with mounted controls on the steering wheel.
Safety features include ABS with EBD and EBA. Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) is standard as well as Traction Control, Torque vectoring Control, Hill Launch Assist, Load Adaptive Control, Trailer Sway Control and Roll-Over Mitigation. Dual airbags are fitted with additional side and curtain airbags. Wheels are 16-inch in size and rear parking sensors and a roof rack with cross bars can be had as an option.
The mid-spec Trend variant further includes cruise control with a speed limiter, rear electric windows, front fog lights and Ford SYNC with Bluetooth Voice Control via a 3.5-inch multi-function display. Front parking sensors and adaptive cornering fog lamps are available as an option, as are 16-inch alloy wheels.
How Does the Tourneo Connect Drive?Both Ambiente and Trend models are powered by Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine offering 74 kW and 170 Nm of torque delivered via a 6-speed manual transmission. Ride and handling is good across the range but performance, although perky, doesn’t offer much excitement. Still, this engine offers more than enough grunt to scoot the family along in comfort. Ford claims 5.6-litres on the combined cycle and I achieved 6.3-litres / 100km on the launch route.
The Long Wheelbase (LWB) Grand Tourneo Connect in Titanium trim can be had with either a 1.6 TDCi engine (85 kW / 285 Nm) with a 6-speed manual transmission or with a 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine (110 kW / 240 Nm) mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
I was a bit disappointed with the automatic transmission which felt sluggish, undermining the capabilities of an otherwise excellent engine. The 1.6 TDCi manual would be my pick of the lot, as it felt far more responsive and eager to obey throttle inputs and it’s more economical. However, if you enjoy no-fuss cruising, then the automatic still has lots to offer. Fuel consumption for the automatic version is claimed to be 8.0-litres / 100km and I achieved around 10.3-litres / 100km. Alternatively, the 1.6 Duratorq TDCi claims 4.9-litres / 100km where 6.3-litres / 100km came up on the launch route.
The Titanium model adds Active City Stop, adaptive cornering fog lamps, automatic headlights and rain sensing windscreen wipers. A large panoramic roof, dual electronic climate control, integrated roof rails and 16-inch alloy wheels are also offered for the Titanium trim level. The optional Titanium Pack offers front parking distance sensors and a rear-view camera for an additional R4 610. For an extra R1 820 you can also have two additional seats added in the rear.
Perhaps the biggest selling point for the Tourneo Connect is its versatility. With its dual sliding doors, spacious second row of seating and large rear space, the Tourneo Connect is a superb lifestyle offering. Furthermore, the seats can be folded and tumbled in various combinations, or taken out altogether depending on your requirements. The Ford Tourneo Connect should sell relatively well in South Africa considering similar options available in the market.
Ford Tourneo Connect – Price in South AfricaFord Tourneo Connect 1.0 EcoBoost Ambiente SWB – R269 000
Ford Tourneo Connect 1.0 EcoBoost Trend SWB – R279 900
Grand Tourneo Connect 1.6 EcoBoost Titanium A/T LWB – R359 900
Grand Tourneo Connect 1.6 TDCi Titanium LWB – R367 900
The price includes a 4-year / 120 000 km warranty, 3-year / 60 000km Service Plan, 3-year / unlimited km Roadside Assistance and 5-year / unlimited km Corrosion Warranty. Service intervals are set at 20 000km.