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Our Verdict

Ford B-Max

The Ford C-Max MPV is as much fun to drive as it is easy to live with, if you're more interested in storage than the driving dynamics you'll find in an SUV

9 March 2004

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.

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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.

Alastair Clements

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