The C-Max will also be the basis of two of the five electric-drive models (a full hybrid and a plug-in hybrid) Ford has promises by 2013. All C-Max models will be made in Valencia, Spain.
The new five-seater C-Max keeps the previous version's clever seating system which allows the centre rear seat to fold under the left-hand seat, and the pair to move diagonally inwards and back, to give four-seat luxury. The seven-seater, which is deceptively spacious, also allows the centre seat of the second row to fold away, leaving a 'walk-through' space. Ford calls the bigger model a 'six-plus-one' rather than a seven seater. It all works nicely, with a VW-like precision.
Five engines (three 1.6 petrols; a 1.6 diesel and a 2.0 diesel) will be offered, each with two power outputs. All have an impressive low fuel consumption story attached, and most can be prepared to meet the next Euro 6 exhaust emissions standard.
The star of the show for us is the 148bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre Ecoboost, a naturally sporty engine which (because of its direct injection, low-inertia turbo and dual variable valve timing) has diesel-like thrust from below 2000rpm. It truly begins a new era of Ford four-cylinder petrol engines.
What's it like?
On the road, brilliant. The underpinnings of this car are those of the outgoing Focus models, with every facet re-thought and with new technology (such as dampers with better valving and a bigger diameter) included. Suspension parts have been judiciously lightened. Suspension mounts have been stiffened. The car has a wider track at both ends. There's a new electric power steering system, now that Ford is happy EPAS can deliver decent 'feel' and the steering rack has been quickened.
Focus and C-Max drivers will find the cars familiar, but they will note improvements. Most of the 1.6 litre models have a new, sweeter-shifting six-speed manual, which is also 30 per cent lighter than its predecessor. The cars are quieter in powertrain, wind and road noise than their predecessors.
They ride more smoothly (though the short model is made deliberately sportier than the US-bound seven-seater) and the excellent steering is sensitive and conveniently high-geared. There's a sense that these Ford products are the first to be tested in every major world market, and their engineering teams have spared no effort to make them ready.
The diesel is impressively smooth and refined, with typical turbodiesel torque from low down. It worked brilliantly with the Powershift. But the star of the show was the 1.6 EcoBoost, a naturally sporty engine which (because of its latest-spec direction injection, its low-inertia turbo and its dual variable valve timing) also has diesel-like thrust from below 2000 rpm. It truly begins a new era of Ford four-cylinder petrol engines, and is the one we'd choose.
Should I buy one?
Prices will be important, of course, and Ford never seem to be all that cheap by the time you load them with desirable equipment.
But this C-Max is almost certain to be the class leader in driver enjoyment, as well as one of the most practical to own. It looks a first-class all-round choice.
Ford C-Max 1.6 Ecoboost
Price: £19,745; On sale: November; Top speed: 127mph; 0-62 mph: 9.4sec; Economy: 42.8mpg; CO2: 154g/km; Kerb weight: 1385kg; Engine: 4cyl, 1596cc, turbocharged petrol, Power: 148bhp at 5700rpm; Torque 177lb ft (199lb ft overboost for 15sec) at 1600-4000rpm; Gearbox: Six-speed manual