Currently reading: Geneva motor show 2012: Ford B-Max
Ford’s new MPV gets sliding rear side doors and dispenses with B-pillars to give unrivalled access
Mark Tisshaw
News
2 mins read
6 March 2012

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.

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Engines will include Ford’s all-new turbocharged three-cylinder, 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine, along with the firm’s smaller-capacity Duratorq TDCi diesels.

Mark Tisshaw

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Lee23404 2 February 2012

Re: Radical B-Max guns for Meriva

Oilburner wrote:
Each to their own eh! :)

Absolutely ;-)

I think all I'd say is that if you like and get the new Meriva you'll love it, as we do. If not, well there are plenty of other cars that will do a good job.

That said, the Meriva is an odd car in that it is larger, plusher and more refined than cars like the C3 Picasso or Venga Bus while being smaller than the likes of a C4 Picasso. It's about the same size as the old C-Max so I guess it stradles both classes.

Oilburner 2 February 2012

Re: Radical B-Max guns for Meriva

Lee23404 wrote:

I'm still not convinced that there is an issue because in this country at least most rearward facing seats will be occupied by small babies who are nearly always in a carry type seat which slot into a base.

From my own experience with those seats the biggest issue is getting them in through the door opening (the child is of course already strapped into the seat) which is easier in the Meriva becuase there are big openings and the doors open to almost 90 degrees.

I would disagree with that because not everyone has Isofix bases, many seats still need to be strapped in via a seat belt, and once they get past 3-4 months the kids are too heavy to put in/take out in the seat, so you tend to leave the seat in the car. That's what I did with our two, anyway.

Each to their own eh! :)

Lee23404 2 February 2012

Re: Radical B-Max guns for Meriva

Oilburner wrote:

MrTrilby wrote:

I think you've missed the bit about "rear facing child seat". When you're trying to get a child into a rear facing seat, the Meriva's rear door is exactly where you would want to be standing in order to be able to reach in to do up buckles/lift them in and out. So the rear hinged door makes it harder for a rear facing seat, not easier.

Exactly! I'm glad someone understands what I'm talking about! :)

I'm sure with _forward_ facing seats it could make it easier, but by that age they're not that far off climbing in on their own...

I'm still not convinced that there is an issue because in this country at least most rearward facing seats will be occupied by small babies who are nearly always in a carry type seat which slot into a base.

From my own experience with those seats the biggest issue is getting them in through the door opening (the child is of course already strapped into the seat) which is easier in the Meriva becuase there are big openings and the doors open to almost 90 degrees.

Of course in very tight spaces the rearward opening doors can be difficult but it's not like that is going to be a daily occurance for most people and all of the solutions seem to have their drawbacks. It's up to the individual to make up their own mid.

Personally I'd say they're better then 'normal' doors but not as good as sliding doors, yet they don't have the look issue of sliding doors.