A ques­tion of bal­anc­ing the Max value

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES - Fred­eric Manby

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”.

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