New Ford Tourneo Courier 2024 review: small MPV glosses over van origins
The new Tourneo Courier is now one of Ford’s smallest cars, but it still offers plenty of practicality
It’s not quite the last word in practicality that it promised to be, but the new Tourneo Courier has enough outright space for the cash to find customers. Those who do commit to it will get car-like dynamics enough of the time, and a well-stocked standard equipment list, but they’re likely to find the cabin functional rather than homely or plush. Nor will they be getting a bargain – unless Ford decides to play more aggressively with its finance deals.
Are you ready for ‘new Ford’? Perhaps more pertinently, is it ready for you? One of the best-known names in the business has spent a lot of the past few years reinventing its line-up. Gone are the Fiesta and Mondeo, and Focus is not long for this earth. So, assuming the Puma small SUV doesn’t do it for you, how is Ford going to satisfy demand for those who want affordable family transport, be it powered by petrol or electricity?
The Tourneo Courier is meant to be one of the answers to that question. Available to order now as a petrol model, but with a zero-emissions E-Tourneo Courier due later this year, this model takes the smallest of Ford’s van offerings (the Transit Courier sits beneath the Connect and the Custom) and turns it into a five-seat family do-it-all.
The idea of a van-based MPV is not a new one; this is, in fact, the second generation of Tourneo Courier in this format, and the likes of Stellantis have populated the market over the past few years with the closely related Peugeot Rifter, Citroen Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo Life. The key, it seems, is to deliver enough car-like comfort, with commercial-vehicle levels of practicality and keen pricing.
At launch, the Tourneo Courier is available with a single petrol engine, a 123bhp version of Ford’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost that does without the mild-hybrid electrification featured on the same unit in the Puma. It’s available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic for an extra £1,200.
The Tourneo Courier certainly cuts a distinctive shape – unashamedly van based, but with a conventional bonnet line and a hint of SUV or crossover from certain angles. It’s just over 4.3 metres long, so while this version has grown (to answer, Ford claims, much higher demand for C-segment MPVs), it’s still slightly shorter than Citroen’s Berlingo, the only one of the Stellantis trio still available with combustion power (Rifter and Combo Life both now being electric only). The Dacia Jogger, another possible rival (albeit one with seven seats), is a full 20cm longer than the new Ford.
From the moment you slide into the Tourneo Courier driver’s seat, you’ll feel like you’re at the wheel of a van, or a close relation thereof. The seats are firm; visibility through the vast windscreen is excellent; the steering wheel angle feels pretty upright and the ceiling seems incredibly high. The dashboard ahead of you contains plenty of useful-looking cubbyholes, including a bespoke clip area designed for smartphone mounts, but is made from rock-hard textured plastic. Pool all of these elements and you could be forgiven for expecting a load-bay bulkhead behind your shoulder, instead of a second row of seats.
Pull away, though, and the Tourneo Courier does a half-decent impression of a passenger car. We shouldn’t forget that the underpinnings here are Ford’s Global B platform – the same base as the Fiesta and Puma (the Tourneo shares a production line with the latter) – and there’s typical sophistication to the gearshift, which has a lovely close-knit mechanical action. The steering has both heft and reassuring directness, too, so many of the key elements of Ford DNA have been transposed successfully here.
This is not a car designed to be leant on through corners and yet, even with its supposedly simpler platform, the Tourneo Courier hangs on remarkably well, with body roll pretty nicely contained. There’s not much of a trade-off in ride quality for this composure either, with enough compliance at low speeds around town.
All the indications are that the EcoBoost engine is refined enough at speed, with a fast cruise requiring around 2,000rpm in sixth gear; wind noise drowns it out comfortably. The jury is still out, though, on how the Tourneo Courier would cope with five adults and their luggage; getting up to a higher rate of knots isn’t a rapid process (0-62mph takes a leisurely 13 seconds with the manual transmission) and you need to use that excellent gearbox to flick up and down ratios to maintain progress, even with the vehicle unladen.
We’re surprised, in fact, that Ford has elected to not offer this car with one of the diesel engines from the regular Transit Courier van, since a bit of extra low-down torque might be appreciated by customers who regularly load up for long journeys. Note: Citroen’s Berlingo still offers that as an option.
We did try the Tourneo Courier with its seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox and it’s a smooth performer too, with quick shifts (it’s actually a little bit faster to 62mph) and intelligent software that keeps the engine spinning in its powerband, without becoming intrusive.
The cabin has plenty of space for four adults, or two grown-ups and three children. There are a couple of Isofix points in the outermost rear seats, but none on the front passenger seat. All of the occupants could wear full Victorian-spec top hats if they choose to, such is the amount of headroom on offer. There’s no smart use of this space (like the Rifter’s central ‘spine’ storage), although there’s an overhead bin above the windscreen that’s handy for coats and smaller items.
The boot is enormous; there’s 570 litres beneath the parcel shelf with the second row of seats in place, and if you fold and flip them forward and measure outright capacity, you’ll end up with a figure north of 2,100 litres. Suffice it to say that it’s a huge load bay that could swallow a domestic fridge or a washing machine – but while there are some neat touches, like a removable drop-down drawer that looks ideal for muddy trainers, and multiple side cubbyholes, there are only two hooks for shopping bags, positioned just beyond the bumper line.
And of course, to gain access to this area, you need to open the enormous rear hatch, which would be a pain in all but the most generous of car-park spaces. A BMW 5 Series Touring-style opening tailgate window would have been a godsend for the ability to throw in the occasional shopping bag.
Buyers get a choice of two trim levels, both of which highlight how far into the car market Ford is hoping to push the Tourneo Courier. Just as with the Puma, the entry point is called Titanium, bringing twin rear sliding doors, climate control, heated door mirrors with powered adjustment, auto wipers and rear privacy glass.
There are 16-inch alloys, heated front seats, a heated windscreen and heated steering wheel, plus front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera, a wireless smartphone charging pad and an eight-inch infotainment system with Ford’s SYNC 4 software and both Android and Apple integration. This version costs from £25,865 with the manual gearbox; frankly, it’s hard to see much justification for spending any more.
There’s also a more rugged-looking Active edition, which costs from £27,185. For the extra you get exterior styling tweaks, including wheelarch cladding, a different front grille and painted mirror caps, plus sat-nav, 17-inch alloys, adaptive cruise control and a slew of extra driver aids. It also gets a few interior trim embellishments in a bid to lift the dash – but they don’t make a huge difference.
Regardless of trim level, the Tourneo Courier’s digital instrument panel is clear and easy to use, but while Ford’s SYNC 4 software is snappy enough, its interface frequently threatens to overload the real estate of the eight-inch screen. Flicking to Apple or Android doesn’t overcome this issue either, because the core system is still needed for functions like heating and ventilation.
As a bit of context within Ford’s own range, the Puma Titanium, in mild-hybrid form and with a manual gearbox, costs from £25,640 – so it’s clear that Ford sees the Tourneo Courier as a more practical offering alongside the Puma, rather than a cheaper alternative to it.
Indeed, you’ll probably be able to work out which vehicle it’s nudging you towards from the interest rates on both models’ respective finance offers, since this will make a dramatic difference to the monthly payments that most of us use anyway. At the time of writing, a Puma is available with 1.9 per cent APR; the still-new Tourneo Courier has to make do with 7.9 per cent, so it costs about £60 per month more than its style-focused sibling. And if it’s cheap family transport you’re after, the monthly rates on a Dacia Jogger annihilate both Ford models.
|Ford Tourneo Courier Titanium
|1.0-litre 3cyl turbo petrol
|Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive