MPV’S al­ter­na­tive ap­proach to ac­cess im­pressses An­drew Hoyle

The Scotsman - - Motoring/Road Test -

Have you ever wit­nessed a ‘door­ing’ – or per­haps even been ‘doored’ your­self? For the unini­ti­ated, it’s noth­ing to do with un­in­vited re­li­gious zealots chap­ping per­sis­tently on the let­ter box when you’ve just sat down to watch Point­less. Rather, says the Royal So­ci­ety for the Pre­ven­tion of Ac­ci­dents, it is ‘when a driver or pas­sen­ger opens a ve­hi­cle door into the path of on­com­ing traf­fic, re­sult­ing in a col­li­sion or avoid­ance ma­noeu­vres, such as swerv­ing or brak­ing, which may also re­sult in in­jury or even death’.

I saw one re­cently when I was walk­ing along Princes Street in Ed­in­burgh. Traf­fic was at a stand­still as usual, a rear-seat pas­sen­ger hastily opened one of the back doors to jump out onto the pave­ment – only to in­ad­ver­tently wipe out a cy­clist who was about to pass the car on the in­side. For­tu­nately it was a low-im­pact col­li­sion and after pro­fuse apolo­gies from the pas­sen­ger, the shaken ped­aller was able to carry on her way.

The col­li­sion might not have hap­pened at all if the pas­sen­ger had prac­tised the ‘Dutch reach’, which Rospa ad­vo­cates and which in­volves ve­hi­cle oc­cu­pants us­ing their hand fur­thest away from the door to open it, forc­ing them to swivel their torso and giv­ing them a bet­ter chance of see­ing po­ten­tial haz­ards.

And it al­most cer­tainly wouldn’t have hap­pened if the car in ques­tion had been a Ford B-max Zetec like the one I’ve been test­ing. This min­impv comes with slid­ing rear doors – a USP in a car of this size – which re­duce the pos­si­bil­ity of ac­ci­den­tally bash­ing cy­clists, other cars and pedes­tri­ans, as well as help­ing to avoid door-to-door bumps in crowded car parks.

Its com­plete ab­sence of sup­port­ing B-pil­lars also makes en­try and exit at the rear ef­fort­less – and although it re­quired struc­tural reengi­neer­ing, it still weighs in at just a hand­ful of kilo­grams heav­ier than its class ri­val the Citroen C3 Pi­casso. In­side it’s com­fort­able and roomy enough for five trav­ellers, as long as at least one of those trav­ellers is more par­tial to salad than a smoked sausage sup­per.

On the road it’s quiet, re­spon­sive and smooth, with sharp han­dling. It’s also pretty nippy com­pared to the likes of ri­vals such as Vaux­hall’s Meriva. The B-max Sil­ver Edi­tion 1.0 Ecoboost start/stop five-speed manual en­gine can reach 122mph, with a 0-62 mph time of 10.3 sec­onds.

The man­u­fac­turer claims an ur­ban MPG of 45.6, ex­tra ur­ban of 64.2 and com­bined 56.5, but of course these fig­ures should be taken with a colos­sal quan­tity of Saxo – in the real world I doubt any­thing like it is re­motely achiev­able. Un­less you have a ex­traor­di­nar­ily light foot on the ac­cel­er­a­tor, bud­get for some­thing in the low to mid 30s if say a school run, shop­ping and the oc­ca­sional Sun­day run in the coun­try are reg­u­lar fea­tures of your weekly driv­ing itin­er­ary.

On the road, the price is £17,595 or there­abouts, which in­cludes black 16-inch al­loys, rear spoiler, rear pri­vacy glass and front fog lights, among many other neat touches. The ver­sion I drove also came with key­less en­try and start (£450 ex­tra), nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem with DAB (£400), the City Pack of rear park­ing sen­sors and elec­tric fold­ing door mir­rors (£300) and ac­tive city stop (£200). Not much change out of £19k in other words.

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