With sliding doors, a tiny engine and the latest technology we find out if Ford has managed to rewrite the supermini rules with their new B-Max
What is it? Ford’s new baby people carrier, the B-Max aims to bring something completely different to the small car market with its sliding doors and futuristic technology. This new mini MPV competes against Vauxhall Meriva, Citroen’s C3 Picasso and the Nissan Note.
Who is it aimed at? The B-MAX is a very clever car and thanks to the sliding doors is incredibly accessible. The front doors open as normal but the back doors slide back. There are no fixed B-pillars in the car so when the doors open the entire side of the car is revealed which makes for easy access and a sense of space. A feature Mums in particular will love.
Styling: Smart and stylish with clean lines, we like the look of the new B-Max
Under the Bonnet: We tested two version of the B-Max, the 1.5 diesel and the incredible 1.0 litre Ecoboost engine. On paper there is little difference between the outputs of both engines but the Ecoboost is the one most suited to the B-Max and would be our choice. Other versions use a 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines or a 1.6 diesel with five-speed manual gearboxes.
What about Inside? Slightly bigger than the Fiesta but smaller than the five door Focus, space is abundant throughout and there is more than enough room for four adults in comfort and five at a squeeze. Leg room in the back is particularly good. The boot size allows for 324litres to be squeezed in which is a useful amount and certainly on a par with rivals but fold the seats back and the space extends to an estate like 1,386 litres. Driving position is really good and everything is classy, high quality throughout and child proof!, Yes child proof! Keeping a car clean when regularly used by children or pets is virtually impossible so Ford engineers have subjected the new B-MAX to laboratory tests that simulate the toughest treatment that children and pets can dish out, including soaking materials in milk and fizzy drinks; testing fabrics with a “mace”; and pounding plastics with a heavy rubber ball. There is also a host of hi-tech safety and communications systems. The B-Max is the first Ford to feature Ford’s Sync system developed in conjunction with Microsoft. The systems allows you to control your music and phone with simple voice commands, it can even read out your text messages!
On the Road? Similar to the Fiesta the handling is excellent and this is a car that drives just as good as it looks. It is swift to accelerate around town and nimble to manoeuvre. The steering is sharp and on the road it is smooth and comfortable. It copes well at speed and there is virtually no body roll when cornering. We love the doors and the ease of access but when travelling with children ensure the child locks are on as sliding doors, like regular ones, can be opened when on the move.
And Safety? By removing the B-Pillar a concern of potential buyers may be that the B-Max would offer less protection in the event of a side impact collision than one with regular doors. To deal with this Ford have reinforced the front and back doors with high-strength, boron steel. It has worked well and when crash tested the B-Max scored a maximum 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating. It is also the first small MPV to offer Active City Stop which is designed to reduce the chance of a front-end collision at speeds of up to 30km/h by braking automatically. Another very useful innovation, as part of the Sync system, is in the event of an accident the system will automatically call the emergency services and notify them of your exact location
Options? There are three trim options to choose from, Studio, Zetec and the range topping Titanium. Prices for the 1.4-litre petrol engine Studio model starting at £12,995, Zetec models at £15,600 and the top-of-the-range Titanium specification from £17,595. Studio is available with manual five-speed transmission and the 1.4-litre 90PS Duratec engine. The Standard features include: body colour bumpers, adjustable load floor in luggage compartment, adjustable driver’s seat, rake- and reach-adjustable steering wheel to name but a few. The Zetec option comes with a choice of three petrol and one diesel engine including the new 1.5-litre TDCi and 1.0-litre 100PS EcoBoost. There is a choice of manual and automatic transmissions and all Zetec launch models will include Ford SYNC. The Standard features on Zetec, additional to Studio, include: 15-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, halogen headlights with LED day running lights, front fog lights, leather trimmed steering wheel and gearshift knob, interior ambient lighting, sunglasses holder, manual air conditioning, child observation mirror, heated windscreen, DAB digital radio/CD with AUX, USB connection and Bluetooth, fuel computer and Thatcham alarm. Finally the Titanium options means a choice of three petrol engines including 1.0-litre 120PS EcoBoost with stop/start and the 1.6-litre 95PS TDCi engine. Ford SYNC will be standard and in additions to Zetec include: driver’s and centre rear seat armrests, driver’s seat adjustable lumbar support, cruise control, electronic automatic temperature control, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, Ford Power Start Button, front and rear carpet floor mats, Sony DAB digital radio/CD, 16-inch 15-spoke alloy wheels and high gloss upper and lower grille surrounds.
What about fuel economy? On a combined cycle of city and motorway the 1.0 petrol returns 55.4mpg, whereas the 1.5 diesel returns a more impressive 68.9mpg.
Okay so the Verdict? Ford has always made vehicles that are great to drive, and the B-Max is no exception. It is versatile, practical, and fun to drive and is a great choice as a compact family car.
Why you’ll buy one? Practical; Safe; Fun to Drive
Why you won’t? Not as economical as you might expect; options are pricey
Nissan Note £11,500 – £13,600
Vauxhall Meriva £12,500 – £17,390
Citroen C3 Picasso £12,995 – £17,655
Ford B-MAX Titanium 1.0 Ecoboost petrol 100PS
Engine: 999cc three cylinder turbo petrol with 100bhp @ 6,000rpm and 170Nm of torque @ 1400-4500rpm
Max speed: 13.2 mph
Model price range: £12,995.– £18,895. (Test car price £17,595.)
No of Doors: 5
Euro NCAP: 5
Fuel type: Petrol
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 55.4 mpg
Boot Capacity Seats up(down) : 304 Litres (1386 litres)
Car Seats: 2 Isofix fittings in the rear
29th March, 2013