Perky engines and nimble handling but firm ride means comfort is compromised
Clever door opening for easy access; slightly fussy on-screen menus
Seven airbags and stability control standard; useful optional safety features
Feels solid, but lower-priced models feel cheap too
Plenty of space for four adults. Smallish boot.
All but the cheapest models are well equipped
It's great to drive, thanks to the neat handling and family friendly suspension which soaks up the bumps without making everyone feel like they're on a ferry. There's very little body lean despite the car's height, and it's quiet too. Only a little engine noise disturbs the peace and a sixth gear would make motorway cruising more relaxing.
There's a range of economical engines: we like the 118bhp 1.0-litre which is turbocharged to deliver frisky performance without frightening fuel bills. Higher-mileage drivers should consider the 1.6 diesel which offers plenty of pulling power.
The most striking feature of the B-Max is that when the front doors are opened and the rear doors slid back, there is no central pillar. This makes getting in and out really easy and is a boon when loading children into car seats.
Four adults will fit comfortably inside. The boot is a useful size and an adjustable floor makes it particularly flexible. Dropping the rear seats is easy and leaves a huge flat load floor.
All models get electric windows and an MP3 compatible stereo but we'd step up to Zetec to add air-conditioning, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and a heated windscreen.
The B-Max has extra-strong door and roof components to compensate for the missing central pillar. All models have seven airbags and stability control; Active City Stop, which steps in to brake the car if it senses an impending prang, is available on higher-spec cars. In the latest Euro NCAP crash tests the B-Max scored 92% for adult protection and 84% for child protection. That's better than a Citroen C3 Picasso (81%/76%) and Vauxhall Meriva (89%/77%). Reliability is yet to be proven but Ford did pretty well in the latest What Car? reliability survey and Ford claims to have made the B-Max's interior tough enough to take almost anything kids can do to it.
Families wanting a small but practical MPV that's good to drive and economical to run should put the B-Max near the top of their shortlist as it ticks all the boxes.
Prices are comparable with rivals' and running costs should be affordable. The 1.6 diesel claims an average fuel consumption of over 70mpg, while the 1.0-litre petrols will top 55mpg.