Ford Tourneo Custom review New Zealand
Although terrific fun, having the extended family over from abroad is always going to be a slightly disjointed and somewhat harrowing time. Aside from the obvious disruption to everyday life, there is the underlying need to amuse and entertain plus the added uncomfortable fun that comes with ‘in-law’ dynamics. On top of all this, we were of course, keen to show off what makes New Zealand so great and that meant leaving the Auckland homestead.
Now, extended travels or road trips are all fine and dandy in theory, the seemingly endless amount of car seat time being easily forgotten upon destination arrival, ‘the end justifying the means’ so to speak. But even with the more spacious SUVs that are on the market, tightly packing five ‘expressive’ adults and their hoards of luggage into a large passenger vehicle is akin to having a pile of dried out kindling under a magnifying lens in the hot summer sun – at some point something’s bound to ignite.
Thankfully, with forethought and years of experience to draw from, I reached out to Ford for a solution and it came in the form of a TOURNEO CUSTOM – you beauty.
The Torneo is a people-mover on steroids. It’s as roomy as a cargo van and yet as comfortable and easy to drive as a high spec’d SUV. My knight in shining armour came in a sinister FBI black with dark ‘privacy style’ glass, had I not been using it for a road trip I could have happily conducted some moonlight stakeouts.
Admittedly, the Tourneo Custom is not a sleek, sportily designed passenger vehicle, But it does possess a handsome front face that shares the same design DNA as Ford’s latest vehicle line-up. It has a high-mounted trapezoidal ‘5 bar’ chrome grille, chrome foglight accents, dynamic, slim headlamps, LED daytime running lamps that look quite menacing in tunnels and very smart alloy wheels.
The driver’s cabin comes with an unexpected up-market finish. High-quality trim, more than ample driver’s aids, a prominent 8” infotainment screen with SYNC 3 connectivity (Apple and Android too) and space to seat three that comes with driver’s armrests too – ideal for those long highways.
The main passenger cabin had six seats laid out in ‘conference format’ (three facing forward, three facing back) designed to encourage conversation – not so sure that was a good idea – but also, heaps of room to not encroach on anyone’s personal space – phew. Six additional USB ports for device connectivity and a luggage area that could double as a time-out zone.
As I said earlier, aside from the normal ferrying around, we had one big trip in mind, a round trip from Auckland to Thames in the Coromandel (via the East Coast Road), over to Hot Water beach on the East Coast, a drive South to Tauranga and the Mount for one night’s rest and then back to Auckland via Waihi and the gorge. The 600+km/near 9-hour drivetime trip may not sound ‘Epic’ but throw in those tight winding roads and the aforementioned ‘personalities’ – well I’m sure you get the point.
However, the Tourneo Custom Ford never skipped a beat. The EcoBlue 2.0-litre diesel engine and responsive six-speed automatic navigated the landscape with ease, even overtaking at times. The chassis felt strong and steering direct. Traffic sign recognition ensured speed limits were adhered to and the adaptive cruise control was utilised whenever possible. Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection emergency braking system was there should I have needed it, while the Side Wind Stabilisation never really showed itself (maybe that’s the point).
Despite its obvious size, negotiating the beach front parking slots was surprisingly simple and the rearview camera/huge front windscreen visibility combination worked well to keep me out of trouble.
I have to say that the road and engine noise is rather minimal and should the family have spoken to each other, they wouldn’t have needed to shout to get their points heard. Telling SYNC 3 that ‘I needed a coffee’ produced multiple handy ‘navigation’ suggestions along the way. The SYNC 3 system really is good, however, although great for the tasks it’s designed to fulfil, I couldn’t find a ‘help me’ menu that would meet my specific needs for this trip – I guess ‘please ground swallow me up’ is hard to program.
All joking aside, the entire family enjoyed the excursion and got on famously (I think that the additional space went a long way to ensure this was the case). Personally, I liked the snaking roads that ran from the Coromandel to Waihi, although I could have done without being hit by my mother’s handbag and being told to behave. Thanks Ford New Zealand