MPV’S alternative approach to access impressses Andrew Hoyle
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.