First Look: Ford Tourneo Custom Concept

Ford will use the Geneva Motor Show to unveil the Tourneo Custom concept, a large passenger van that gives us our first look at the next version of the Transit commercial van. Ford says the design “communicates very clearly” the styling direction of the company’s next-generation Transit, although this particular model is destined only for Europe and Asia.

Ford already offers a nine-seat passenger van called the Tourneo in Europe, as well as a smaller five-seat model called the Tourneo Connect, both of which are designed for use as shuttles. The Tourneo Custom concept, however, rides on an all-new global platform that also will underpin Ford’s cargo vans. Those models, which continue to bear the Transit name, will be launched later in 2012.

Visually, the sleek Tourneo concept adopts the “Kinetic Design” language that graces other Ford products; notably, the front fascia and grille look remarkably like those of the new Focus, Fusion, and Escape. The show car also wears LED running lights and smart 18-inch alloy wheels. Expect the production Transit (in markets outside the U.S.) to look very similar to this concept vehicle.

The concept van employs Ford’s turbocharged 2.2-liter inline-four diesel engine and a six-speed manual transmission; output will range from 99 hp to 153 hp, depending on trim. Front-wheel drive and engine stop-start technology are standard. Highlights include features include a backup camera, Sync voice recognition, and a lane-departure warning system.

In Europe, Ford refers to this model of the Transit as its one-tonne (or lighter duty) model, which won’t come to America. There also will be a two-tonne version, and Ford promises that “larger and higher payload Transits” will arrive in North America later in 2012. As has long been reported, that means Ford will replace the decades-old E-Series/Econoline vans with the new Transit in the U.S. market.

The new-for-America Transit will be produced at Ford’s Kansas City assembly Plant in Missouri, which currently builds the F-150 pickup. Ford confirms the global Transit will have rear-wheel drive, which matches the drive configuration of the outgoing E-Series vans. Not much else is known about the new commercial van, although we can expect the global “two-tonne” Transit model to wear significantly different styling than is previewed by the Tourneo Custom concept. The new vehicle also should be significantly more fuel-efficient than the thirsty E-Series.

Ford already has begun testing the 2013 Transit for use both in Europe and the U.S., with rigorous trials including an evaluation of how well the commercial van can hop curbs. Expect more details on the global Transit to emerge later this year.

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