FAM­I­LIES WILL GO MAD FOR THIS MAX

Ford’s ex­cel­lent up­date of its pop­u­lar MPV will now give the op­po­si­tion plenty to think about

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE ANDY EN­RIGHT

COM­PRO­MISE doesn’t have to be a dirty word. In fact, in­tel­li­gent com­pro­mise is ex­actly what un­der­pins the de­sign of Ford’s C-MAX com­pact MPV. Here’s a car that needs to be big enough to fit fam­ily and lug­gage, but not so big that it’s too hard to pi­lot around town or park.

It re­quires an en­gine with the torque to move a fully loaded car, but not one so thirsty that the fam­ily purse strings are go­ing to be stretched to break­ing point. It would need all the mod­ern safety and con­ve­nience fea­tures that buy­ers de­mand, but pric­ing that isn’t out of reach of wage pack­ets which al­ready have school uni­forms to buy and hun­gry mouths to feed.

Hit­ting the sweet spot in all of those de­ci­sions and many oth­ers be­side is where the ex­per­tise lies and is the rea­son why the C-MAX is one of the big­gest selling cars in its class.

Ford first in­tro­duced this com­pact MPV model in 2003 and since then has sold more than 1.2 mil­lion in Europe and cur­rently holds a 12% mar­ket share.

This heav­ily-re­vised sec­ond gen- er­a­tion model looks to make fur­ther in­roads into the shares of ri­vals like the Citroen C4 Pi­casso, the Volk­swa­gen Golf SV, the Re­nault Scenic and the Peu­geot 3008.

Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence

The C-MAX was al­ways an easy pick for any­one who en­joyed driv­ing. It was by far the best car in its class when showed a B-road. Now that the Golf SV is around, that su­pe­ri­or­ity is no longer quite so cut and dried, but it’s still a class act.

Par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion this time round has been paid to im­prov­ing re­fine­ment. Noise, vi­bra­tion and harsh­ness have been im­proved through the use of thicker side glass and more ab­sorbent seals around the tailgate and rear view mir­ror.

The en­gine bay heat shield has been filled with acous­tic damp­ing ma­te­rial to re­duce pow­er­train noise and diesel vari­ants are now equipped with ex­tra

acous­tic seals to fur­ther re­duce noise in­tru­sion.

The star of the en­gine line-up is the 120PS 1.5-litre TDCI diesel en­gine, seen for the first time in the C-MAX, re­plac­ing the old 1.6-litre unit. Power goes up by 5%, while emis­sions drop by six points.

There are also the multi-award win­ning 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol en­gines, of­fered once again in 100 and 125PS out­puts. The big ca­pac­ity diesel in the range is a re­vised 150PS 2.0-litre unit.

De­sign and Build

The de­sign of this C-MAX is evo­lu­tion­ary, with many of the de­tails be­ing brought up to date to re­flect con­tem­po­rary Ford think­ing. The dy­namic styling de­liv­ers a stronger, sleeker front end, fea­tur­ing Ford’s dis­tinc­tive in­verted trape­zoidal grille. The washer jets have been hid­den un­der­neath the wind­screen to give a cleaner look, while the tailgate has been given a smoother and more so­phis­ti­cated one-piece ap­pear­ance.

In­side, you’ll find a dash that’s a lot less fussy than the pre­vi­ous model, re­flect­ing the cus­tomer-led de­sign re­fine­ments that have al­ready been ex­e­cuted on the Fo­cus.

There are fewer con­trols and switches, while the new black satin trim and chrome de­tail­ing con­trib­utes to a cleaner look. Func­tions are sim­pler to use, such as air-con­di­tion­ing con­trols that now fea­ture but­tons that are eas­ier to recog­nise and dis­tin­guish from each other.

Prac­ti­cal­ity im­proves too, with a re­designed cen­tre stor­age con­sole. The seats still tum­ble down in­di­vid­u­ally in one mo­tion to cre­ate a flat floor, with over 470-litres of space with all five seats in place.

Mar­ket and Model

Prices start at just over £18,000 and range up to just over £26,000, so there’s a model-for-model sav­ing of around £1,600 over the larger Grand C-MAX model if you don’t need that ver­sion’s 7-seat ca­pac­ity.

Ford has gone quite big on elec­tronic giz­mos in this latest it­er­a­tion of the C-MAX. The last model also had a lot of smart tech fea­tures and Ford rightly left most of them on the op­tions list, giv­ing cus­tomers the choice of whether they wanted to pay ex­tra or not for these nice-to-haves.

You can now get one of those tailgate openers which op­er­ate when you wave your foot un­der the bumper. These have al­ways struck us as a lit­tle strange, be­cause if you’re so laden down that you can’t open the boot, are you re­ally go­ing to stand there do­ing one-legged ma­noeu­vres?

Any­way, there’s also a per­pen­dic­u­lar park­ing sys­tem and Ac­tive City Stop col­li­sion avoid­ance that op­er­ates at up to 31mph. Ford’s latest Sync2 voice-ac­ti­vated con­nec­tiv­ity sys­tem is also on of­fer, de­liv­er­ing smart­phone sync and the chance to con­trol some of the car’s mi­nor func­tions by voice com­mand.

The clearer eight-inch colour touch­screen is a welcome ad­di­tion. Ford also bring us Mykey tech­nol­ogy, which lets par­ents set a top speed and limit stereo vol­ume in ad­vance to pre­vent the young ‘uns get­ting a bit overex­cited.

Cost of Own­er­ship

The diesel mod­els re­ally come into their own when you’re will­ing to put some miles on the clock. If you want the C-MAX as a mere school run and shop­ping ve­hi­cle, you’d ac­tu­ally be bet­ter ad­vised go­ing for one of the eco­nom­i­cal 1.0-litre petrol mod­els, as they’re priced so cheaply in or­der to be a more cost-ef­fec­tive pur­chase. The 1.0-litre vari­ants re­turn 117g/km of CO2.

Re­ally lever­age the econ­omy ben­e­fits of the diesel en­gine though, and you’ll save big. The 1.5-litre TDCI diesel re­turns a com­bined fuel econ­omy fig­ure of bet­ter than 65mpg, with 105g/km of CO2, which is ex­cel­lent for a car of this size and with this much torque. Go for the 2.0-litre and it will also get around 60mpg.

In­sur­ance re­flects the C-MAX’S fam­ily owner pro­file, ex­cel­lent safety and se­cu­rity record and low cost of re­pairs. The 1.6-litre model is ex­pected to be rated at just Group 16E. Com­pare that to Group 19E for a 110PS diesel Re­nault Scenic.

Sum­mary

In truth, Ford didn’t need to do a whole lot to the C-MAX to keep it right at the head of the pack. The im­prove­ments to the in­te­rior and the big ef­fi­ciency gains lever­aged by the 2.0-litre diesel, as well as the in­tro­duc­tion of the 1.5-litre diesel, are all wor­thy up­dates, but the over­all look, feel and ap­peal of the C-MAX hasn’t been markedly al­tered.

Still, the ar­rival of new en­trants into this mar­ket, most no­tably the Volk­swa­gen Golf SV, means that if Ford had been con­tent to rest on its lau­rels it could well have seen the C-MAX rapidly slip from grace.

As it stands, this much im­proved sec­ond gen­er­a­tion car looks to have what it takes to keep its ri­vals on their toes for some time yet.

The more some things change, the more they stay the same.

The new dash has fewer con­trols and the up­dated trim has a neater look

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