Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Cars - PRAC­TI­CAL CHAMP

Can the Blue Oval do any wrong? Ford’s new-model on­slaught con­tin­ues to bol­ster the com­pany’s rise as the firm chal­lenges seg­ment lead­ers across the mar­ket and con­sumers are tak­ing note. Its first foray into the baby MPV mar­ket sees the B-max step up to the likes of Honda’s Mo­bilio, Suzuki’s Er­tiga and the Toy­ota Avanza.

There’s only one prob­lem though: surely the 7-seat ri­vals have the 5-seat B-max’s num­ber? I’m go­ing to stick my neck out and say not ex­actly. When last have you watched a young fam­ily in a tight park­ing spot at the mall get into a seven-seat ve­hi­cle? It’s not ex­actly the most grace­ful thing and, de­pend­ing on the ve­hi­cle, ac­cess to that third row isn’t easy and the last bench of­ten swal­lows up pre­vi­ous cargo room.

There’s a lot more to the B-max than look­ing like a Fi­esta with a taller roof, be­cause Ford be­lieves that it has solved the prob­lem of the com­pact MAV (multi ac­tiv­ity ve­hi­cle) by fit­ting the B-max with tra­di­tion­ally hinged front doors, elim­i­nat­ing the B-pil­lars en­tirely, and fit­ting slid­ing doors to the rear. It’s def­i­nitely an in­dus­try first, and my con­cerns (along with many oth­ers, I sus­pect) had mostly to do with the B-max’s struc­tural in­tegrity. Ford has as­sured the world, how­ever, that all’s in or­der. The en­gi­neers beefed up the front and rear doors with high-strength boron steel to ab­sorb more im­pact in the event of a side col­li­sion, while 58 per cent of the B-max body con­sists of high-strength and ul­tra high-strength steel.

The lit­tle new­comer scored a full five out of five stars in the strin­gent Euro NCAP crash test rat­ing sys­tem, by the way, notch­ing up 92 per cent for adult oc­cu­pants and 84 per cent for chil­dren. So that takes care of the safety as­pect.

Once your head is wrapped around that, then move on to ac­tu­ally us­ing the new doors, and you might not look back.

If I can use a phrase to de­scribe the process, then it would have to be “un­par­al­lelled ac­cess”. Bulky child seats and oddly shaped cargo dis­ap­pear eas­ily when there’s no B-pil­lar get­ting in the way and the doors don’t have to be opened and closed in a spe­cific se­quence ei­ther.

The B-max is pow­ered by Ford’s mul­ti­ple award- win­ning 1,0-litre Ecoboost three-cylin­der pow­er­plant, which pro­vides more than ad­e­quate grunt for this seg­ment, and bril­liant fuel con­sump­tion. The added weight does neg­a­tively af­fect the B-max, though you’d only no­tice if you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced the Ecoboost mo­tor in an­other of the Blue Oval’s prod­ucts.


PRICE: R261 900 EN­GINE: 1,0 three-cylin­der tur­bopetrol CO2: 114 g/km EF­FI­CIENCY: 4,9 litres/100 km POWER/TORQUE: 92 kw/170 N.m TRANS­MIS­SION: five-speed man­ual 0-100 KM/H: 11,2 sec­onds AF­TER-SALES: 4 year/60 000 km ser­vice plan

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