Ford C-Max – Review
by Liam Bird
I’m almost ashamed to admit it now, but I very nearly cancelled my time with Ford’s new C-Max.
About a week previous to it arriving, Bob, Ford’s affable man at Halewood rang me to say that the Focus ST I’d originally booked and was looking forward to was no longer available – a problem had occurred (they sometimes – but not often I hasten to add – do). Would I instead like to try something else? At the time of his call I was driving, so my immediate attention was somewhat elsewhere. “What have you got?” I asked him. To cut a long story short we settled on the new Ford C-Max.
Soon after that I caught a strain of near lethal man-flu – honestly, it’s been known to kill y’know! Thus, enthusiasm for everything naturally waned. The thought of having to review a five-seater MPV from a marque with, well, let’s face it, such a workaday badge whilst being so close to death’s door didn’t appeal. The fact that it was powered by nothing more than a 999cc three-cylinder engine also had me wondering if I was really going to need any further sleeping aids.
It was then that Bob sent me the spec-sheet for the C-Max. Surely that was a misprint? How could a three-pot motor with less capacity than an ice-cream tub produce so much torque and bhp? There was only one way to find out. The ST would have to wait, my interest in the C-Max was beginning to grow – albeit at the rate of of a very ill man.
When Bob arrived in the C-Max a few days later my initial suspicions that the following week might prove more than a tad dull, I thought, were confirmed right there and then. Despite Ford having gone to great efforts to make the C-Max look attractive, new Aston Martin-esque grille, 17”alloy wheels and Deep Impact Blue paint job aside, their five-seater family-carrier’s styling can only really be described as instantly forgettable.
No teenage boy is ever going to pin a picture of a C-Max up on his wall. Although, the hands-free tailgate that opens when you make a kicking motion under the rear bumper might just keep the teenage boy in all of us amused for longer than you may have thought. It worked on me. Once open the C-Max’s boot is a pretty cavernous too, it’s also nice to see Ford still fit spare wheels where others simply supply compressors and cans of tyre sealing gunk.
Swing open any one of the C-Max’s wide opening doors and it’s difficult not to be impressed. Not only is the C-Max very generously equipped: Auto self-levelling lights, auto wipers, full length panoramic sunroof, heated seats, DAB, 8-inch TFT screen with voice activation, dual zone climate and a heated Quickclear windscreen are all to be found, it’s also very comfortable. The partial leather sports-seats fitted to the Titanium X spec C-Max Bob brought me proved both soft and supportive and, even if perhaps the plastics and switches inside Fords these days still aren’t up to the standards of their more Germanic competition, believe me, they’re not far off. The layout and ergonomics are pretty close too. You can drive the C-Max for hours without succumbing to either an ache or a pain.
But, what about that tiny motor?
Well, the fact that the Ford 1.0 litre EcoBoost has won the International Engine award for sub 1-litre class for the last three years should have told me something. In everyday use Ford’s tiny power-plant is quite remarkable. It punches way beyond its weight. You can put the C-Max in sixth gear at 30mph and it won’t complain. It also delivers high 40s mpg (the official figure is 55.4 combined) in day-to-day use and remains both smooth and remarkably quiet regardless of what you demand of it. There’s none of the usual three-cylinder rattles or vibrations. Honestly, were it not for the trip computer’s readings you’d swear that you were driving an engine with at least twice the capacity. It really is impressive. So much so that after a week in its company I was reluctant to hand it back.
Factor in too that the C-Max drives and handles like a well-sorted hatch. It’s complete with well-weighted steering and a compliant but in no way slushy ride. Not at all like the school-run mini-bus its looks might have you believe. You could say overall the Ford C-Max, in reality, proves itself to be a very pleasing package.
Ford C-Max Titanium X 1.0t EcoBoost
Engine: 999cc cc 3Cyl Petrol
Power: 125 BHP @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 103 lbft @ 1,400rpm
Transmission: 6 speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 0-62mph 11.4 sec
Max Speed: 116 mph
MPG: 55.4 Combined.
Price: From £22,695 (as driven) £24,795