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.