Ford’s new MPV gets sliding rear side doors and dispenses with B-pillars to give unrivalled access

The all-new, production-ready Ford B-Max MPV has been unveiled at the Geneva motor show. The new car promises to be one of the most innovative models ever seen in the segment. The Fiesta-based B-Max has been shown exactly one year after it was previewed as a concept car of the same name. It is the latest model to be developed under the global ‘One Ford’ strategy. UK sales will start in September.

Ford has been late to arrive in this booming segment (the current Fusion, which the B-Max loosely replaces, not being worthy of comparison), which is populated by models such as the Vauxhall Meriva, Citroën C3 Picasso and Renault Scenic. But Ford claims that the B-Max’s “ingenious design and unrivalled technology sets a new benchmark for smart, compact, city-friendly cars”.

Chief among the innovations is the absence of B-pillars and the addition of rear sliding doors. This is unprecedented in the segment and stays true to last year’s concept car. Indeed, although one of the B-Max’s larger siblings, the Grand C-Max, also offers rear sliding doors, it retains conventional B-pillars.

Ford has got around the technical problems usually associated with the absence of B-pillars, chiefly side impact safety and production complexity. The B-pillars themselves are integrated into the sliding doors.

“The B-Max combines an exciting, innovative design with features that only previously have been found in bigger cars,” said Ford of Europe CEO Stephen Odell. “It’s a brand-new car that responds to the needs of an increasing number of customers who want much more from their small cars.”

Exact technical details are scarce at this stage; Ford plans to reveal more in the build-up to its Geneva launch. The concept version was just over four metres long, which made it 11cm longer than a five-door Fiesta and 32cm shorter than the larger Focus-based C-Max. The production car’s dimensions are expected to mirror the concept’s.

Ford claims the new B-Max will offer best-in-class load space. Its biggest rival, the Meriva, offers 397 litres of load capacity with the rear seats up and 1496 litres with the rear seats folded flat.

The Meriva offers similarly innovative rear access, but it’s likely to be eclipsed by what the B-Max has to offer. Ford hasn’t confirmed the exact workings of the rear doors, but the concept version featured a 1.5m aperture, which is about twice that offered by the Meriva’s rear-hinged ‘Flexdoor’ system.

In its styling, the B-Max also stays true to the concept car, albeit with some softened lines, particularly at the front. It borrows from the larger C-Max, Grand C-Max and S-Max SUVs, featuring elements from Ford’s ‘Kinetic’ design language, such as the chrome-trimmed trapezoidal grille, prominent wheel arches and headlights that look more C-Max than Fiesta.

Engines will include Ford’s all-new turbocharged three-cylinder, 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine, along with the firm’s smaller-capacity Duratorq TDCi diesels.

Mark Tisshaw

See all the latest Ford reviews, news and video

 

Join the debate

Comments
45

1 February 2012

This looks like a mini S-Max and none the worse for that.Ford are late to this segment of the market but tining is good as it might improve their European balance sheet.

1 February 2012

Its a shame it looks so similar to the C-Max, particularly along the sides. I know thats not a great surprise, but I'd hoped they might have come up with some slightly different 'tweak' of this current family look.

1 February 2012

Sliding doors are a winner for tight car parks, children, getting car seats in etc. I love the sliding doors on my Mazda 5. Question is - will the European "I want my car with doors because it's not a van" mindset kill sales?

1 February 2012

This looks very good on paper and it does interest me as it would be good for my Dad to get in and out of (he is disabled) Also good for lobbing my bike into . So would do as a second car .

I do hope it turns out better than the Peugeot 1007(8?) that was also pillarless but was very heavy for the same reason . Well a dog of a car to be frank . I will read a test of the 1.0ltr triple with great interest . Might still prefer a Skoda Yeti though as it looks to have more character and am not a great fan of the glitzy Ford interiors full of plastiminium .

Whatever one it would be it would have to be second hand and that might be a Ford "strength" to the canny buyer. Heavy first year depreciation .

Another plus of sliding door for me is the ability to get stuff in and out of the car in the garage. Need the skills of a limbo dancer to slither in and out in the garage at home not good with a dodgy back .

1 February 2012

Im not keen on this look at all, i'd much rather choose a Meriva over this any day of the week, thankfully im still a keen motorist and would not look at any of these kind of cars twice though.

1 February 2012

The lack of B pillars in such a car is interesting. But to call the B-Max radical? A bit far fetched if you ask me and while sliding doors may be rare in this class, they're not exactly unique in MPVs. If the car turned itself into a Transformer, then I'd call it radical!

Not sure about the styling. It looks a bit too much like a C-Max and therefore bloated and dumpy. Kinetic styling strikes again!

1 February 2012

Lazy article. It's hardly innovative. Two generations of Nissan Prairie did this in the eighties. That said, it's just as good an idea now as it was then...

1 February 2012

Agree with other posters, hardly "radical" but it has used the various innovations sensibly.

The styling however.... The car it looks most like is the Grand C-Max, with that stupid misshapen rear window, which to me looks awkward as it seems to be out of kilter with the rest of the lines on the car and gives it an almost slab sided appearance.

That aside, I can see the appeal of the packaging and hopefully it will be decent driver as well.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

1 February 2012

Shame there's no picture of it with all the doors open must look pretty weird with no B post showing, ah well I'm sure a bit of goggling will reveal the answer

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

1 February 2012

The "global" strategy has been tried by others and failed badly (Neon comes to mind). This, however, has much more going for it. The packaging must be nifty having used the Fiesta rather than Focus chassis. Not sure with all that clobber on this frame that it will drive as well as it looks

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run