HERE’S A nice t o u c h i n Ford’s C-Max: pull down a little hinged unit above the driving mirror, e x - pecting, perhaps, to find a container for sunglasses and instead it’s a much more useful panoramic mirror, so the driver can keep an eye on those in the back and check how the children are behaving.
There are many more thoughtful touches in the C-Max, such as the small compartment for oddments on top of the facia, the space for sunglasses in each front door and a good storage area for CDs under the centre armrest.
There’s no front ashtray, but company cars now automatically ban smoking. Space for sweet papers and other debris is provided in a lidded compartment, which also serves as a twin cupholder, beside the handbrake.
The C-Max is a tall, roomy family car, with a bright interior, thanks to the big glass roof with spring-loaded sun blinds (an extra, at £400).
The three rear seats are individual and each can be folded flat, then tipped forward or removed. Children will appreciate the lift-up trays fitted to the backs of the front seats. C-Max comes with a wide choice of engines, starting with a 1.6-litre petrol unit. Top model is the powerful 2-litre diesel Duratorq, as in the test car.
The C-Max returned 43.9 mpg and proved very quiet and smooth. The suspension gives a rather firm ride, with disappointingly high levels of tyre roar and wheel thump over bumps, but the benefit of the taut suspension is very crisp and responsive handling. The steering, too, is precise and directional stability is excellent.
Surprisingly, there are no controls other than the horn pad on the steering wheel, but a lever underneath the wheel gives convenient fingertip control of the audio unit. The CD unit for the navigation system takes up a lot of space in the compartment facing the passenger, and a CD player for the audio unit is mounted beneath the front passenger seat.
There is a neat computer read-out between the instruments, selected by a touch on the end of the indicator stalk, and there are also time, date, trip and total mileage readings, as well as outside temperature among the mass of information supplied. Large, clear circular instruments are provided, with white digits on a black surround and red pointers.
Small quarter windows in the front sides are more a styling feature than a practical aid to visibility, so it’s important to move your head around to ensure nothing is hidden behind the large blind area at junctions. A high seating position helps to see over this obstruction. Wipers park neatly at the base of the windscreen and rear view is particularly good.
The front seats have five-stage electric heating and a lever on the inside of each front seat allows backrest firmness to be adjusted.
Well-placed at the top of the console is the screen for the navigation system, audio and ventilation.
Even with the top Titanium trim as on the test car, the navigation system is a costly extra at £2,500, though this includes the under-seat six-pack audio changer. It’s a very efficient navigation system, anyway, providing a clear map in colour. Instructions are good, with rapid re-programming if the driver diverts from the route, and it is easy to set a destination (except for the fact that it will not accept a postcode).
Some drivers may regret the lack of a cruise control on the C-Max, but it is otherwise well equipped, even though the options on the test car added £6,100 to the price, making the final package very expensive at £24,845. A hefty item in the total was the £1,000 cost of the Sport Pack, which includes firmer suspension and 18in wheels instead of the standard 17in ones. Without this option the C-Max might give a quieter and more yielding ride.
C-Max: good-looking family car with many unexpected extra features