A question of balancing the Max value
JAY blue pointers and matching digital print shine out of the instrumentation on Ford’s chunky new C-MAX, the five-seater understudy to the seven-seat Grand C-Max. Under both is the chassis used by the Focus hatch and estate. It is regarded as one of the best platforms in the medium car sector and gives these cars a better combination of handling and comfort.
The best is the Focus because it is lower and lighter. The bulkier C-MAX suffers from some body sway on corners. With its more versatile rear seats (they fold flat into the floor) bigger rear hatch and taller cabin it has more carry-capacity than the hatch and a certain lifestyle image.
The school-run parent will find it just a bit more child friendly – higher ride, easier entry and exit. A 1.6 Focus will cost you (from) £16,000. The equivalent C-MAX is another £1,205 and brings an additional 600 litres luggage space (seats folded). It is a good six inches taller and 100kg heavier and so cannot match the driving balance of the hatchback.
An alternative, should you wish to shop with Ford, is the Focus estate, not quite matching the load capacity of the C-MAX but lower, leaner, and slightly less money. It is also better looking.
C-MAX styling does not appeal to me. Nor does the “Grand” with its body grooves in which the rear doors slide open and back. Both have, though, that activity image, marking them as cars which have been chosen for their domestic utility.
An alternative would be the Nissan Qashqai, which has the advantage, strange as it sounds, of being British. Fords are not. They are constructed in Spain and Germany and Belgium. And very nicely, too. Quality and reliability are applauded in surveys.
My C-MAX test car was in Titanium specification, with a 113.4bhp high torque 1.6 litre diesel engine made in England. Price: £19,745. Metallic paint added £495. It had front and rear parking sensors and automatic parking for an additional £525 and a mini-spare wheel was £75. That’s the extra I’d put top of my list, not being a fan of “seal and blow” puncture fixing.
Regular kit on the Titanium brings shapely 17 inch alloys, a heated screen (useful in winter and on steamy days), a digital radio, automatic lamps and wipers, picnic tables, puncture warning. There is a hill-holder clutch which gives a good long delay and cruise control with a speed limiter. Go for the less well equipped Zetec model with this engine and you will pay £18,695. The quoted average fuel consumption is 61.4mpg and carbon is 119g/km. My mileage readouts were about 50 miles a gallon, by the way.
Low mileage owners should consider a petrol engine to save on the purchase price of the car and at the pumps, though in theory diesel will give an extra 15 or so miles a gallon and is cheaper to tax. The petrol model also has a lower insurance rating.
To meet demand for the C-MAX and Grand C-MAX, Ford has increased the production line speed at its plant in Valencia, Spain. The result has been an almost 18 per cent increase in daily production at the plant. “We expected a strong customer demand for the Ford C-MAX and Ford Grand C-MAX, but demand has exceeded our expectations,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, marketing, sales and service, Ford of Europe. The majority of UK sales use engines made in Dagenham and Bridgend.
IN DEMAND: Ford has increased the speed of its production line in Spain for the C-Max as demand “has exceeded our expectations”.