From £17,430
Sporty five-seat C-Max is not only great to drive but also has a practical, quality interior

Our Verdict

Ford C-Max
The C-Max continues to be based on Ford's C-segment platform, which underpins the Focus

The Ford C-Max MPV is as much fun to drive as it is easy to live with

15 September 2010

What is it?

Ford is launching a new version of its Focus-based people-carrier, the C-Max. It uses for the first time the chassis and running gear Ford will employ for all worldwide models of this size, including the all-important new Focus range, due to be shown at this year's Paris Show.

The first C-Max was launched six years ago amid controversy: Ford was late into the sector, and chose a five-seat arrangement despite the fact that rivals like the Vauxhall Zafira were offering ingenious seven-seat arrangements.

The European market for MPVs of this size nowadays displays a 50:50 demand split for five- and seven-seaters, so Ford is launching separate, related models for each buyer: a five-seat C-Max, and 110kg heavier Grand C-Max, which is 140mm bigger in both overall length and wheelbase.

Both models will be on sale in Europe by the year-end – with three trim levels for the UK – and the longer model will hit the US market at the end of next year.

The C-Max will also be the basis of two of the five electric-drive models (a full hybrid and a plug-in hybrid) Ford has promises by 2013. All C-Max models will be made in Valencia, Spain.

The new five-seater C-Max keeps the previous version's clever seating system which allows the centre rear seat to fold under the left-hand seat, and the pair to move diagonally inwards and back, to give four-seat luxury. The seven-seater, which is deceptively spacious, also allows the centre seat of the second row to fold away, leaving a 'walk-through' space. Ford calls the bigger model a 'six-plus-one' rather than a seven seater. It all works nicely, with a VW-like precision.

Five engines (three 1.6 petrols; a 1.6 diesel and a 2.0 diesel) will be offered, each with two power outputs. All have an impressive low fuel consumption story attached, and most can be prepared to meet the next Euro 6 exhaust emissions standard.

The star of the show for us is the 148bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre Ecoboost, a naturally sporty engine which (because of its direct injection, low-inertia turbo and dual variable valve timing) has diesel-like thrust from below 2000rpm. It truly begins a new era of Ford four-cylinder petrol engines.

What's it like?

On the road, brilliant. The underpinnings of this car are those of the outgoing Focus models, with every facet re-thought and with new technology (such as dampers with better valving and a bigger diameter) included. Suspension parts have been judiciously lightened. Suspension mounts have been stiffened. The car has a wider track at both ends. There's a new electric power steering system, now that Ford is happy EPAS can deliver decent 'feel' and the steering rack has been quickened.

Focus and C-Max drivers will find the cars familiar, but they will note improvements. Most of the 1.6 litre models have a new, sweeter-shifting six-speed manual, which is also 30 per cent lighter than its predecessor. The cars are quieter in powertrain, wind and road noise than their predecessors.

They ride more smoothly (though the short model is made deliberately sportier than the US-bound seven-seater) and the excellent steering is sensitive and conveniently high-geared. There's a sense that these Ford products are the first to be tested in every major world market, and their engineering teams have spared no effort to make them ready.

The diesel is impressively smooth and refined, with typical turbodiesel torque from low down. It worked brilliantly with the Powershift. But the star of the show was the 1.6 EcoBoost, a naturally sporty engine which (because of its latest-spec direction injection, its low-inertia turbo and its dual variable valve timing) also has diesel-like thrust from below 2000 rpm. It truly begins a new era of Ford four-cylinder petrol engines, and is the one we'd choose.

Should I buy one?

Prices will be important, of course, and Ford never seem to be all that cheap by the time you load them with desirable equipment.

But this C-Max is almost certain to be the class leader in driver enjoyment, as well as one of the most practical to own. It looks a first-class all-round choice.

Ford C-Max 1.6 Ecoboost

Price: £19,745; On sale: November; Top speed: 127mph; 0-62 mph: 9.4sec; Economy: 42.8mpg; CO2: 154g/km; Kerb weight: 1385kg; Engine: 4cyl, 1596cc, turbocharged petrol, Power: 148bhp at 5700rpm; Torque 177lb ft (199lb ft overboost for 15sec) at 1600-4000rpm; Gearbox: Six-speed manual

Join the debate

Comments
17

21 September 2010

Steve,

I know Autocar goes ga-ga over any new Ford (sometimes with reason, sometimes as it later turns out without reason) and this review feels no different. You say "C-Max is almost certain to be the class leader in driver enjoyment" in the summary but you never touch on the handling or steering in the review.

Now, I know you think we should take all that for granted in a Ford, but please, tell us exactly why this car is so "brilliant" despite running an all-electric steering system, looking frumpy from any angle but he front and having an interior with so many creases and surface finishes that it makes my head hurt.

~K

-Poledancer

21 September 2010

Probably a great family car and fun to drive too - areas where Ford seem to have it cracked - but the pumped up Fiesta looks aren't working for me from any angle...

21 September 2010

[quote RobotBoogie]pumped up Fiesta looks aren't working for me from any angle...[/quote]

Or is it a pumped-up Ka? I agree it's not such a looker, in the photos at least. But then neither is the Renault Scenic, and the Citroen family are an acquired taste too

But regardless, if the new C-Max follows the S-Max as a family-friendly Ford that offers genuine driver enjoyment, then great: you can't see the outside when you're driving it anyway!

21 September 2010

[quote Big S]

[quote RobotBoogie]pumped up Fiesta looks aren't working for me from any angle...[/quote]

Or is it a pumped-up Ka?

[/quote]

Looks like a pumped-up Kia Venga to me. Which is no bad thing anyway. I like its look. If it does offer near-Touran packaging at a more attractive price and with sliding doors added in, then why not? My only concern is shoulder room in second row, an area where sister car Mazda 5 does not excel.

21 September 2010

autocar. you need to check your on sale date.

i've spoken to 2 dealers who both say the on sale date is the end of january.

21 September 2010

Hello Ford?! The 90s called, they want their Citrine Yellow back.

21 September 2010

[quote Abarthuk.com] The 90s called, they want their Citrine Yellow back.[/quote]I actually rather like the colour. I doubt it'll do resale values any wonders, but it's a bit different. I can imagine them replacing that bright "Squeeze" green colour in the Fiesta with this, when they decide they've had enough of that colour. Back to the C-Max though, and I think it looks alright - better from the front than the back though. The 7-seater version looks absolutely terrible from the rear end in my opinion - there are way too many lines going every which way - it just looks messy. And don't forget, Mazda came up with the flip-up centre seat with the previous-gen 5, yet that's not mentioned in this review. In fact, I think it's exactly the same system that Mazda still use themselves! Ahh well. I read somewhere that the C-Max will be well-equipped, with cruise control, digital radio etc etc, so that could mean good sales!

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

21 September 2010

[quote rover75man]

autocar. you need to check your on sale date.

i've spoken to 2 dealers who both say the on sale date is the end of january.

[/quote]

Wonder if the dealers are confusing dates for the new Focus with the C-Max, Ford's press material suggests "late " 2010 for the C-Max and "2011 " for the Focus,

On a different but still related subject, one suprising omission on both new models appears to be fitment of driver knee airbags, can find no reference in any of the aforementioned press material and the website for the North American Focus similarly makes no mention.Odd, given both Mondeo and Fiesta are so equipped, as are a number of the opposition.

.

21 September 2010

Finally, a good looking Ford!

But then, they've stolen the corporate face of Hyundai..

21 September 2010

[quote Scandinavian]

Finally, a good looking Ford!

But then, they've stolen the corporate face of Hyundai..

[/quote]

Good looking it may be, but the Ford corprate look it already starting to tire

VW get a lot of critisism for their cars looking very similar but at least they make the rear end of the car different, it looks like Ford have given up completely and everything now has too look like a Mondeo or S-max. And when they do try to change the rear end you end up with the monstrosity that is new Focus

time for a new design team Ford?

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