The mid-sized Ford Connect Tourneo comes in standard five or seven-seat Grand Tourneo form. Motors went to Ford's Munich test base to find out why Ford needs more people carriers when it already has the Max range (B, C and S), and to see what the Focus-based machine has to offer.

In the 'flesh' the car is clearly a van-derived machine. The proportions are ultra-functional, but there are some car-like styling elements, such as the blacked-out A, B and C pillars that put an accent on the large glass area. From the base of the windscreen forward, the Connect Tourneo looks like any supermini or compact hatchback, but cast your eye further along the body and you see… a big van!

On the upside, there are wide-opening front doors and, better still, big sliding doors for the three-seat, middle row occupants. The rear of Tourneo features a massive, one piece up-and-over tailgate that a whole family could shelter under from the rain.

Inside, obviously, it is a big space. The driver gets a nice cockpit environment with a good driving position. The gear lever is set high and close to hand. Secondary controls are found in the familiar Ford places. The only criticism concerns the relatively low setting of the main dials on the dashboard. The high roof makes Connect Tourneo a very airy space.

Above the dashboard there is a handy shelf that could hide handbags or laptops out of view. The materials and trim feel hard-wearing and the optional two-tone colour combination of beige and dark grey works better than the standard black.

The middle row features three sculpted seats (ISOfix child seat anchors are fitted) and access is very good via the sliding doors. On the Grand Tourneo you flip down the middle outer seat to access the rear two seats. These compact chairs are mounted on rails that allow a certain amount of sliding fore and aft.

The boot is massive in the Tourneo and absolutely huge in the Grand Tourneo (when used as a five-seater). Should you need greater flexibility you can fold the seats to create a fully flat floor. You can even remove the 'topple forward' centre row seats entirely to get up to 2,620 litres of space. Style, Zetec and Titanium are the specification levels.

Engines available in the Valencia-built car revolve around three, 1.6-litre diesels with 75hp, 95hp and 115hp outputs. Petrol users in Ireland get just a 75hp Ecoboost three-cylinder unit that powers the entry-level car for €23,850. (In Germany this model can be had for less than €19,000!) The entry-price point for the Grand Tourneo is €25,100, rising up to €31,000. Ford's impressive 'City Safety Stop' autonomous braking system is available as an option as is 'Sync' connectivity. A number of optional roof-mounted carriers are also available.

Overall, Connect Tourneo is a very practical machine, but it lacks car-like road presence. For similar money you get better styling and good car looks from MPVs like the KIA Carens, Peugeot 5008 or, come to think of it, Ford's own C-Max and S-Max! Tourneo simply isn't cheap enough to attract a big family following in Ireland. It is destined to be used as a taxi or shuttle vehicle for a hotel or golf club, or by those who are so active they simply must travel with loads of scuba gear, a surfboard and a couple of mountain bikes at all times. Oh, and the kids!

Michael Sheridan