Ford is boosting its offering of family-oriented MPVs with a new seven-seat Grand C-Max model.
The new MPV was revealed at the Frankfurt motor show today and it is a long-wheelbase version of the five-seat C-Max, which was also launched at Frankfurt and will go on sale in autumn 2010.
The Grand C-Max will slot between the C-Max five-seater and the S-Max to battle compact seven-seaters such as the Renault Grand Scenic and VW Touran. Ford is hoping to score a similar sales success to that of the S-Max, which doubled Ford’s UK sales of MPVs and cut into the share of the market-leading Renault Espace.
Based on the next-generation Focus platform, the seven-seat Grand C-Max features a 150mm stretch to accommodate a third row of seats. It also has a pair of sliding rear doors, a first for a Ford passenger car, and an optional powered tailgate.
In the second row of three seats it has a novel arrangement for the central chair, which tumble-folds and then stores inside the neighbouring seat to open a central aisle through the cabin.
This arrangement, plus the sliding rear doors, are similar to the set-up on the Mazda 5. There’s no word yet on whether the next-generation Mazda 5, on sale late next year, shares its platform with the Ford, but it seems likely.
The Grand C-Max also promises class-beating dynamics thanks to the Focus’s independent rear suspension. “The Grand C-Max will build on Ford’s reputation for excellent driving,” says Ford.
Also new in the C-Max is a light-pressure turbo 1.6-litre petrol engine that promises to blend flexible performance with low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
The new C-Max is the first of up to ten new models Ford will launch worldwide using its new C-segment platform. One of which will be the next-gen Ford Focus, which will launch next year.
Gunnar Herrmann, Ford’s global C car vehicle line director, said: "By concentrating resources on a global family of new C cars, Ford is going to be able to bring its customers some truly exciting designs that are packed with the very latest vehicle technologies."
The Ford Grand C-Max is also set to be among the first European built and designed Blue Oval cars to be sold in the USA.
A company insider revealed to Autocar that the new seven-seat Focus-based MPV will go on sale in America at the end of 2011, almost unchanged save for minor tweaks to comply with US regulations.
The big question mark though is where the US-bound Grand C-Max will be built. Some company officials are keen for it to be made in Mexico, although looking more favourable at the moment is the company’s Spanish plant in Valencia. That would make it the only Ford to be made in Europe but exported to the US.
Like European versions, the American Grand C-Max will be powered by a new family of turbocharged petrol engines, dubbed Ecoboost and manufactured in Bridgend.
The C-Max will follow the Fiesta to the US, the first European-designed car to cross the Atlantic under the new One Ford initiative under company boss Alan Mulally.