What is it?
You’re looking at the most economical version you can buy of the Ford B-Max, the new Fiesta-based MPV. The car's other big claim to fame is that it has unparalleled access, especially to the rear, because it has a sliding rear door and no centre pillar.
The car needs to attain high standards, however, because the Fiesta sets a high benchmark for the supermini class, and the company’s bigger MPVs, the C-Max and S-Max are both well known for excellent driving characteristics.
It’s ironic that to get the most economical B-Max you have to buy the most expensive model, the £19k, 94bhp, 1.6TDCi Titanium, which strikes us as rather a cynical move on Ford’s part.
But at least you also score decent performance and a dense equipment specification that includes the new Ford Sync connectivity system.
Options include Active City Stop, keyless entry, a rear vision camera and a Sony eight-speaker DAB audi system. On the other hand, if you want a cheaper diesel your only option is the £16,995 B-Max Zetec, powered by the 74bhp 1.5DCTi engine, not only less powerful and slower but also less economical.
What is it like?
It’s good-looking, for a start, like a small S-Max. Against a Fiesta it’s fearfully expensive but much better for many older buyers because entry/egress is easier and there’s an elevated driving position. The no centre pillar/sliding door combo works especially well for people with young kids: at its widest the side aperture is 150cm, nearly double that of a normal door.
From the ride and handling point of view, driving the diesel B-Max is great. The steering is accurate and easy to use, the car grips and points as well as Fords are expected to, and the supple ride is a bonus from a firm that usually concentrates more on perfect body control when it designs a suspension. There’s a bit of body roll when the car is driven hard, but few MPVs are used like that. And even when this one is, it’s still neat and responsive.
The engine performance isn’t as good as the specifications promise. The car we drove seemed rather sluggish (even allowing for its relatively leisurely 0-62mph time of 13.6 seconds) and the engine rather lifeless.
One gets used to turbodiesels delivering hefty mid-range push, but this one’s more reluctant than the class best. For many, it’ll be no big deal, but for those who know how good Fords can be, it’s a bit of a shock.
Should I buy one?
Probably. For space and economy we doubt you can buy better in the class. And it’s a good-looking machine, too. But the turgid performance of the 1.6 diesel, for which you’re asked to pay so much, might encourage us to try others in the class before we signed any purchase order.
Ford B-Max 1.6TDCi Titanium
Price: £18,895 0-62mph: 13.9sec Top speed: 108mph Economy: 70.6mpg CO2: 104g/km Engine type: 4 cyls, diesel Power: 94bhp Torque: 158 lb ft Gearbox: 5-spd manual