From £17,4308
EcoBoost engine makes the tidiest-handling MPV all the more pleasing to drive – but it could be more frugal

Our Verdict

Ford B-Max

The Ford C-Max MPV is as much fun to drive as it is easy to live with

What is it?

Among all the quirky alternatives and added-value sensible options, the apparently ordinary Ford C-Max — which faces an ongoing struggle to stand out as a compact MPV.

It succeeds by being widely renowned as the ‘have-cake-and-eat-it’ choice: the practical high-rise family hatchback that handles damn near as tidily as any ‘normal’ five-door.

And now that Ford’s three-cylinder turbo Ecoboost petrol engine has been added to the C-Max range, there’s another reason for this well-judged car to appeal to interested drivers.

Just as it has across the Focus, Fiesta and B-Max ranges, this characterful little three-pot evens up the odds in the petrol-vs-diesel debate. It makes for a C-Max petrol that’s a lot more flexible and bit more refined than the equivalent diesel, as well as cheaper to buy, cheaper to insure and cheaper on company car tax. 

It's even one that’s more enjoyable to drive than your run-of-the-mill oil-burner, too.

What's it like?

Despite the relatively scant difference in claimed economy figures, Ford’s EcoBoost engine isn’t a match for a good diesel on fuel economy out in the real world.

That’s not to say it’s thirsty in the C-Max. Our test car returned just under 40mpg over several days of mixed use. A small-capacity diesel, we suspect, could beat that by 25 per cent: more for those who spend plenty of hours on the motorway. Diesel’s still about eight per cent more expensive at the pump, so some of that’s offset – but not all of it.

Still, if you’ve got the kind of low-mileage service in mind that would render that economy gap inconsequential – and as second cars, many C-Maxes will perform exactly so – there’s an outstanding case here.

The engine’s smooth and quiet at low revs, but its chief virtue is range: it’ll pull stoutly from well under 1500rpm right the way through to 5500- with incredible linearity and almost entirely without high-frequency vibration. A peak 98bhp clearly isn’t going to make the car fast, but it is responsive and easy to drive. It seems unrealistic to expect more than that of a car like this.

The C-Max’s taut, fleet-footed handling remains an equally outstanding reason to buy, provided you’re inclined to value it. Without compromising ride comfort, the chassis tune makes for impressive body control. There are strong grip levels too, the steering’s direct and meaty, and all three things – in tandem with the willing engine – make this car a pleasing, spry sort of steer.

On practicality, while it might seem that an MPV without seven seats is like a sink without a tap, the car delivers a surprising amount. Compared with what you get in a regular five-door, the higher seating position, greater headroom, larger doors and bigger boot would all come in very handy during day-to-day family use.

With the second row in place, the boot offers more space than either a five-seat Toyota Verso or a Renault Scenic; it’s particularly deep and will swallow a pushchair with room to spare.

Should I buy one?

Probably. The Ford C-Max remains Autocar’s favourite compact MPV for all the reasons above, and because it’s competitively priced. It’s not an eccentric – just a good car. It's smooth, flexible, practical, cheap to run and it doesn't drive like an MPV.

With the addition of the downsized EcoBoost petrol powerplant, it's an even more appealing overall package - albeit one that's not quite as frugal as the diesel equivalent. 

One thing that's worth looking out for, however, is the diagonally sliding rear seats. They're a £200 option on a mid-spec car, and mean you can’t have a spacesaver spare wheel – but they’re a clever feature and worth having.

Ford C-Max 1.0T EcoBoost Titanium

Price: £19,845; 0-62mph 12.6sec; Top speed 108mph: Economy 55.4mpg; CO2 117g/km; Kerb weight 1391kg; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 98bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 125lb ft at 1500-4500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
16

5 June 2013

The engine seems a bit underpowered in a car that weighs this much, not really why they have done it.

5 June 2013

Torque, economy, top speed and power would be better with a diesel version. C02 emissions would be near identical too. Just don't see the point in it. 

5 June 2013

BenC30 wrote:

Torque, economy, top speed and power would be better with a diesel version. C02 emissions would be near identical too. Just don't see the point in it. 

For those low mileage motorists, using their vehicle predominantly in the urban environment, the lack of potential DPF and flywheel problems could be appealing?

5 June 2013

catnip wrote:

BenC30 wrote:

Torque, economy, top speed and power would be better with a diesel version. C02 emissions would be near identical too. Just don't see the point in it. 

For those low mileage motorists, using their vehicle predominantly in the urban environment, the lack of potential DPF and flywheel problems could be appealing?

 "a lot more flexible and bit more refined than the equivalent diesel, as well as cheaper to buy, cheaper to insure and cheaper on company car tax."  

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

5 June 2013

I mean, once upon a time I had a 1.8 petrol Vectra, weighing 500kg more, and which measured over 100,000+ miles gave me 36.7mpg. Today manufacturers' are publishing mpg figures that look great - "Amazing", you'd say, "What progress things have made" - but I reckon it's all a bit of a con. And this here Ford thing: less than 40mpg in the real world, for something weighing a lot less than that old Vectra and comparably slower in the performance stakes, is hardly something to be applauding is it. Plus, nowadays, the cars are even more full of things to go wrong and to my mind no more reliable; wife's 520d Touring's just out of warranty and the turbo's gone with less than 35k on the clock. Hardly feels like a great way to be spending £2k of one's hard-earned, getting that all sorted out. Can't see that the 1.0 Ecoboost would be any different though, in the longer term.

jer

5 June 2013

Think the Grand C-Max version is the one to go for. Looks a lot more car and flexibility that this "stubby" version.

5 June 2013

Cavalier,

Was your Vectra full of lead? No way could it weigh in at more than 1891kg, 1250kg would be nearer the mark. In this context the 40mpg of the 1391kg C-max isn't too bad; it is certainly better then a petrol family car of ten years ago. 

Back to the C-max, isn’t there a 128bhp version of this engine? Surely it would be a better match to the car’s weight and large frontal area.

5 June 2013

Very surprised they didnt update the front end with the new Ford (Astonesque) nose at the same time as slotting in the engine, I wonder if there is a facelift on the way..

5 June 2013

A diesel version would also have a higher list price.

5 June 2013

1400kg and less than 100 bhp! And thats before you fill it with people.

Oh, and £20k

Do we really care about cars like this?

 

 

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