Ford is aiming squarely at Vauxhall’s latest Meriva with this baby MPV, called B-Max and given its public debut as a production-ready concept at this week’s Geneva motor show.
The new model takes several styling cues from the Iosis Max, a concept revealed at the same event two years ago. In particular, it has adopted the show car’s radical door treatment, which does away with the B-pillar and features a neatly integrated sliding door on each side.
The concept shares a platform with the Fiesta. At just over four metres long, it’s 11cm longer than the five-door Fiesta but 32cm shorter than the latest C-Max. Ford claims the sliding doors and pillarless format give the car a 1.5-metre-wide aperture to ease access to the cabin — and that the opening is about twice as wide as those of “competitors with alternative door concepts”, a clear reference to the Meriva’s Flexdoor system.
The B-Max’s styling draws on Ford’s existing large MPV, the S-Max, but adopts new features from the firm’s developing ‘kinetic’ design language. That translates into a new chrome-edged interpretation of Ford’s trapezoidal grille, a smaller lower grille finished in gloss black, headlamps that are closer to the C-Max’s than the Fiesta’s and prominent wheel arch blisters.
The rails for the doors are neatly integrated under the leading edge of the rear lights. The concept has a full-length glass roof, which is likely to be a cost option on the production car.
The production B-Max is also the first vehicle to be linked to Ford’s smallest Ecoboost motor yet. The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder unit, previewed by the Start concept revealed at last year’s Beijing motor show, features turbocharging and variable cam timing. It also features stop-start as standard. Ford claims the unit delivers “significant reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions” but has not released any detailed specs or figures.
The cabin looks production ready, with a fascia that builds on the designs of the Fiesta and new Focus. It has a 6in touchscreen display, but retains Ford’s mobile phone-inspired controls.
The seating arrangement is relatively straightforward, with a 60/40 split rear seat. But the front passenger seat folds to allow loads of up to 2.35 metres in length — the tallest box currently sold by Ikea.
No production details have been announced. But the 1.0-litre Ecoboost motor will be built at Craiova in Romania, and Ford has stated that the same plant is being lined up for a new small car that’s not the Ka or Fiesta.