Ford has been battling losses for years in its Ford of Europe business, but judging by the model lineup of the second largest US automaker you would immediately look for the problems outside of its car and commercial vehicle range.
Why are we talking about finance when a test drive is involved? Simply because the Tourneo Courier model might have more in common with quarterly revenue sheets and profits then we care to imagine. If we dissect the model in detail, we might find its DNA ramifications span years of strategies by the automaker that has produced some of the best commercial vehicles that are actually used today more often as leisure models. Because the Tourneo Courier is exactly that – a model that has deep commercial roots and actually cares nothing of the segment, instead catering for the needs and desires of every day buyers.
You might think my rationale is a bit complicated once you see the genealogical tree, but actually driving the Tourneo Courier could be more revealing than the Oscar night. The Tourneo Courier is the leisure activity-loving brethren of the commercial Transit Courier model. We all know the Transit name in Europe for decades and lately – thanks to the departure of the E-Series commercial vans – the US buyers also have the chance to fall in “love” with the perfect example of European auto workhorse. Ford has invested so much in the Transit now and introduced so many derivations (besides having different heights and cargo dimensions, I mean) that executives should develop a subbrand for the model. Direct lineage for the Tourneo Courier model alone puts it in contact not only with the Transit Courier but also with the full-size Transit and Transit Custom models. There’s one catch though, both the Transit and Tourneo Courier models are actually based on the Ford B3 platform – which is the one underpinning the Ford Fiesta and B-Max. Also, while the “One Ford” strategy has fought to develop mostly global nameplates, the Tourneo Courier model remains a mostly European affair, being built in Kocaeli, Turkey, by Ford Otosan.
Design, Interior and Gadgets
Built as a true leisure activity vehicle, the Tourneo Courier is a great addition to the Ford minivan lineup – one of the most comprehensive in Europe, encompassing the B-MAX, C-MAX, Grand C-MAX, Galaxy, S-MAX, Tourneo Connect, Grand Tourneo Connect and Tourneo Custom. The Tourneo Courier nevertheless finds its own private space and doesn’t trespass over C-MAX’s domain, for example. If we want to be rude, we could say the Tourneo Courier is the blown out child of a B-MAX/Fiesta minivan marriage. The traits are there – front exterior design mirroring with the necessary scale changes the facelifted Fiesta and an interior dashboard that is shared with the B-MAX. The Tourneo Courier definitely won’t be mistaken in a parking lot by a Fiesta owner but the resemblance has numerous benefits – after all the Fiesta is one of the best selling subcompact cars of all time.
Overall, the lines of the car are as simple and straight as they can be – with the front putting it in line with the Ford design of today, the sideline featuring ample windows for an added sense of interior space (not that it needs it, more in a second on that) and the back featuring a fifth huge door that will put you in difficulty in cramped parking spaces. The overall feeling is the Tourneo Courier is not necessarily geared towards sensible families, but rather to recently married couples (who may or may not have a kid or two) that love travel and outdoor activities.
Coming inside you’ll see the design feeling is not entirely true – the Tourneo Courier has all the necessary attributes to make a fine family minivan owner proud. That includes a rear 60/40 split bench seat, Isofix brackets and all the necessary pockets and storage spaces to loose all the toys prepared for a week-long vacation. Before getting inside the driver’s seat, I have to get back to that single-piece fifth door that gives access to the trunk – it’s so hard to wield because it was designed to go down almost to street level, meaning easy loading and offloading. In any case, I fond myself using the two back doors more often when placing small stuff in the trunk – they slide so effortlessly and occupy so little space they’re a joy to use. The downside is they are fitted with “compass”-style windows that won’t go down – the upside is you won’t have to worry about kids doing the doggy-style wind-in your face scenario.
Now, back to the driver’s seat – which is ample and comfortable, with easy positioning thanks to the wheel having both height and depth adjustment. By the way, while the Tourneo Courier is a hair bigger than both the Fiesta five-door and the B-Max minivan, overall interior space (especially in the back) is penalized by the “cab-forward” architecture. That’s because all three models share the same wheelbase – 2489 mm in length. In fact, in the Tourneo Courier I did something I never thought possible for a guy with above average height (a hair more than 185 cm, or 6 feet): I needed to lift my seat a few nudges to see beyond the steering wheel at least a portion of the engine cover, which is something I didn’t need in around 99 percent of cars I drove. The windshield is steeply inclined – adding to the space feeling together with the massive windows – thus making the upper part of the dashboard pretty huge. You’ll get used to it easily but for the entire majority of the review I kept wondering how much space automakers would gain if they don’t stretch the cab-forward idea to its limits.
Aside from the fact that in a subcompact model you still have enough space for five adults and loads of luggage space – long-legged persons sitting in the back might argue a little due to the smaller than foreseen knee space – with the interior height enough to allow kids to stay upright; what really mesmerized me was the level of creature comfort. I mean, the Tourneo Courier is not a step below what the latest Focus has on offer when it comes to equipment and gadgets. If you ever wondered if cars that have links to commercial models will ever evolve, you should look no further. Ford offers it all: from hill-start assist to rain/light sensors or automatic air conditioning. And the young are even more favored than the traditionalists – we have navigation, USB, Bluetooth, SYNC control and even a gizmo called MyFord Dock, which – in case there’s no integrated navigation – will offer a standard holder for most smartphones or navigation units, with the added benefit of a separate charging port.
Engine, Transmission and Handling
The links to the Fiesta and B-MAX continue under the hood – the Tourneo Courier only has access to the lower range of Ford engines: two diesel units churning out 75 and 95 hp and the tested gasoline 1.0 EcoBoost. The award-winning engine, with three cylinders and turbocharging is one example of how downsizing helps the good old gasoline engine compete with diesel offerings. While you might frown at the 999 cc and three-cylinder configuration, you should remember it can deliver 100 hp, 170 Nm and has an official average fuel consumption of 5.2 liters/100 km. In real life, what really matters is the car can pace itself easily in urban traffic conditions – thanks to the impressive torque availability between 1400 and 400 rpm and that fuel consumption can be taken near the official figures if you don’t disconnect the start/stop system and trips on the highway are at more sensible speeds (110-115 km/h). As far as the latter are concerned, the real penalty comes not from the engine, but from the five-speed manual gearbox, which has its limits when it comes to highway speed driving – the engine is revved up, so naturally consumption and noise levels are high.
Inside the city, the Tourneo Courier, when it’s not loaded to its maximum possibilities (it boasts a trunk space of 1656 liters with rear seats folded) can sprint past most of the traffic participants, unbiased by its dimensions that would suggest otherwise. Fuel consumption in the town won’t come close to the official figures unless you take full advantage of the start/stop system – which works vibration free and is very quick to response. The Tourneo Courier also drives a lot like any Fiesta would do – bringing a sense of deep serenity when combined with the huge windscreen, easy to use levers and handles and easily accessible infotainment functions. Interior noise is well kept in check by the fact that we have a very small engine, while the vibrations coming from the three-cylinder are inexistent. Comfort oriented in every possible way, the Tourneo Courier will even pass over road asperities with little (audible) complaints from the suspension system.
While the Tourneo Courier is not a model that is geared towards long highway hauls – the small displacement engine will show its limits at such speeds while the short five-speed transmission will penalize consumption and noise – its definitely a great leisure activity vehicle. You can pack in it almost everything you want and get you where you want to go in comfort.
The relaxed and serene feeling will perspire towards the driver even if he/she doesn’t want to: the body will roll visibly on tight bends, the steering wheel is just as involving as it would be if you were driving a train and the high driving position doesn’t invite you to engage in “fast and furious” races. That doesn’t say the model is not safe, the car’s direction is actually more precise than you would think it capable and modern safety has not been neglected – while selecting the right gears will enable some fast driving if needed in almost any situation. Performance figures are roughly on par with the B-MAX minivan in terms of acceleration, top speed and fuel consumption, but naturally the Tourneo Courier has no chance of keeping up with the comparable five-door Fiesta model.
Pro: Lots of cargo space and numerous and efficient pockets and other storage spaces, comfort in and out of the city, ease of access in the back through the sliding doors, numerous equipment options.
Against: The small displacement engine will feel underpowered if driving with all seats occupied at highway speeds. Five-speed manual transmission penalizes long motorway hauls, lifting interior noise and consumption. Cab forward architecture taken to its limits has a toll on interior space.