First DriveA Volkswagen Golf SV is likely to make more financial sense, but the C-Max is just as practical in most ways and more fun. It gets our vote
First DriveEcoBoost engine makes the tidiest-handling MPV all the more pleasing to drive – but it could be more frugal
It’s not always easy to see the point of a five-seater midi-MPV, particularly when it’s based on a car as capable and comfortable as the Ford Focus. But as a family wagon offering extra space and versatility, the C-Max is a compelling package – and the new 1.6-litre TDCi powerplant adds even further appeal.
There’s the same low-set driving position, VW-rivalling cabin quality and class-leading dynamics as the 2.0 version we tested last year, but added to the mix are a lower price tag, better economy and the option of a £1100 continuously variable transmission.
On the road you rarely miss the 2.0-litre’s extra 26bhp and 55lb ft of torque. It lacks the hot hatch-style turbo punch, but the 100kg lighter 16-valve common-rail Duratorq 1.6 offers a smooth, linear power delivery and rarely feels off the pace. It’s impressively refined too, with 70mph recording a lazy 2250rpm. The five-speed manual ’box is not as light as big brother’s six-cog option, but it’s more positive and meaty and only at over 80mph does the engine’s slightly laboured note make you miss that extra ratio.
This would all seem rather wonderful were it not for the price. In Zetec trim, the 1.6 is just £800 less than the 2.0 TDCi. Start going bonkers with the options list (whoever specified our test car certainly did) and you’ll end up with a car like this, at a stratospheric £19,660.
The smaller diesel motor makes much more sense in basic LX trim – not available on the 2.0 – because if its £15,490 price tag doesn’t give you reason to feel smug, the extra 7mpg and lower emissions compared to the bigger engine certainly should.