From £19,5509

The Ford Grand C-Max is the longer, seven-seater version of Ford’s new five-seat C-Max. That car is ground-up replacement for the second-generation Focus-based model of the same name. That model served the firm well as a slightly roomier, easier-access variant of the Focus hatchback. But one which always lacked a seven-seat option. 

The Grand C-Max is 140mm longer and 110kg heavier than the five-seater, and straddles the small gap in Ford’s range between the C-Max and the S-Max. It’s also one of Ford’s latest ‘global’ models, conceived and designed to sell on both sides of the Atlantic, and in within a mile or two of driving it you’re aware that this is a model with the US market in mind. 

The car is distinctly softer in the suspension than the shorter model; engineers say it’s as much to give the occupants of the third row a comfortable ride as to meet American tastes. The rest of the car, however, is very European, with identical interior and seat designs to the short-wheelbase model and Volkswagen levels of material quality and finish. 

On the road, there’s little beyond the slightly more relaxed ride to choose between the Grand C-Max and the smaller C-Max. They feel identical in steering precision and cornering grip, and you’re barely aware of its extra size and weight. 

It is deceptively spacious inside, with sliding rear doors and a clever set-up that allows the centre seat of the second row to fold beneath one of the others, leaving a ‘walk-through’ space. Ford calls the model a ‘six-plus-one’ layout, rather than a simple seven-seater.

The Grand C-Max’s seven-seat design compromises the five-seat C-Max’s sleek overall shape, but if you need the extra interior space and passenger accommodation then it’s a compromise you’ll doubtless be prepared to accept. With all seven seats upright and in use, boot space is limited to just 92 litres, but fold them flat and this expands to a full 1742 litres should you need it.

Standard kit is generous, with Titanium trim coming with the most toys as standard, but the interiors of all models are nicely finished and laid out with some intelligence. Ford’s latest take on trip display graphics is particularly easy on the eye, although the Titanium’s centrally mounted stereo and sat-nav controls appear less well integrated into the surrounding dashboard plastic than on the lesser Zetec-trim models. 

We based our most exhaustive tests on the 2.0-litre Duratorq diesel engine, driving through the optional six-speed dual-clutch Powershift gearbox. Its 138bhp is married to a torque peak of 236lb ft, and it’s an impressively smooth and refined powerplant, with typical turbodiesel shove from low down. It works especially well with the slick-shifting Powershift automatic gearbox. In auto guise the only downside is the worse mpg and CO2 figures.

Other engine options are a 1.6-litre petrol, a 1.6-litre TDCi and a 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol, for which Ford claims impressive economy. Our advice, unless you drive very few miles, is to skip the petrols and head for the diesels, which carry a relatively small premium and deliver more punchy performance for the sort of load-lugging this kind of car is likely to do. While the 2.0-litre diesel is the most capable, for many the more pasimonious 1.6 will do.

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