New Ford B-Max: on the road

Ford B-Max

 

The Ford B-Max is a compact MPV based on the Ford Fiesta supermini and the company hopes it will tempt customers away from rivals such as the Citroen C3 Picasso, Honda Jazz and Vauxhall Meriva.

Don't go thinking the B-Max is just a Fiesta on steroids, though; it's far cleverer than that. 

A combination of sliding rear doors and no central pillar provides easy access to the back seats an unobstructed rear door opening space that's more than double that offered by the Vauxhall Meriva, which also sports rear-hinged doors.

 

What's the 2012 Ford B Max like inside?

The B-Max is only around 12cm longer and taller than the Fiesta it's based on, but it's the unique door system that really sets the B-Max apart from its supermini sibling.

With no central pillars to divide the cabin in two, there's a 1.5-metre wide opening when both front and back doors are open.

Rear access isn't totally unrestricted, of course, because the front seats are still where you'd expect to find them. However, their seat belts are integrated into the seat backs to cut down on clutter.

If you're in a busy multi-storey car park and are trying to get toddlers in and out of their child seats, the B-Max's sliding rear doors will be an absolute godsend.

Inside the cabin there's space for four adults and a spot-on driving position, with loads of seat travel, plenty of support for your back, and two-way steering wheel adjustment.

The funky-looking dashboard works pretty well, too, although it takes a bit of time to become familiar with the intricacies of the on-screen menus.

At 318 litres, the boot is a reasonable size, and an adjustable load floor makes it more versatile.

That said, while a Meriva's rear seats split, fold and slide in three individual sections, the B-Max's rear bases are fixed and the backs only split 60/40.

At least dropping them is a one-hand job and once folded, they lie completely flat to leave 1386 litres of load space.

From a safety standpoint, the B-Max's doors are reinforced with ultra-high-strength steel to make the car every bit as crash resistant as a traditional vehicle.

Electronic stability control and seven airbags, including full-length curtains and a knee 'bag for the driver, also feature. Some models offer an optional Active City Safe feature which senses an impending crash and brakes the car to prevent it.

 

What's the 2012 Ford B-Max like to drive?

When the B-Max's doors are closed, hooks in the roof and side sills lock them in place to help maintain body rigidity.

As a result, the B-Max isn't in the least bit jittery; it sweeps through corners with easy precision and feels securely planted at speed.

The B-Max also steers with great panache and has a consistency to the weighting of all its controls that makes it an absolute delight to breeze around in.

Equally, the ride feels just right for a family car; cushy enough to take the sting out of ruts and bumps, yet controlled enough to prevent nausea-inducing body roll in bends.

The three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine is said to combine the power of a 1.6 with the fuel economy of a 1.0-litre.

The Government figures of 57.7mpg on the combined cycle and 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds would appear to back up these claims.

On the road, the engine is perky enough, but one drawback is the way the power delivery seems to work up in steps as you increase the revs, requiring carefully timed gear changes to keep things smooth.

Overall though, we reckon many manufactures would kill to get their sports cars to drive as well as the B-Max, let alone their family cars.

 

Should I buy one?

If you're in the market for a versatile, neat driving and eminently affordable supermini then we struggle to see any reason why you wouldn't head straight to your nearest Ford dealer.