MPVs like the Ford C-MAX have always been practical, sensible cars but new people carriers like the Vauxhall Meriva and Ford C-MAX are becoming desirable cars in their own right.
Often seen as a predictable descent into middle-age, the MPV segment has had a bad press in recent years, but in recent years stylish entrants into the market have gone some way to challenging these perceptions of the practical people carrier.
The new Ford C-MAX shares a platform with the forthcoming all-new Ford Focus and serves to whet the appetite for the Focus, with the C-MAX as a spacious, good-looking and comfortable car that’s good to drive.
The new C-MAX gets an update of Ford’s Kinetic design language, meaning it’s sleeker and more stylish than the outgoing model.
The exterior is more sculptured, and has more than a bit of the next-generation Ford Focus in its styling – another nod to inspiration the C-Max draws from its stablemate.
The theme continues inside, with an extremely high quality of interior quality and lay-out – the centre console has been inspired by a mobile phone – which is clear and intuitive.
It’s airy and comfortable inside, with room for five people and good space upfront. But there’s also a minimum of 432 litres with the rear seats up – expanding to a Mondeo-like 1,723 litres with the rear seats folded.
Usually an MPV’s strengths would begin and end at practicality, but the C-MAX continues to impress when you get behind the wheel. Its cornering ability is superb due to a new suspension set-up and a wider track – and there’s excellent feedback through the steering wheel, so you always know how the car is reacting to the road.
There are several 1.6 petrol engines – including a 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol engine that gives superb performance and acceleration, alongside four different diesel engines to suit different driving styled and needs.
The diesel choices include a torque-y and capable 2.0-litre diesel in 113, 138 and 160bhp variations, all of which deliver a refined drive on motorways.
At the bottom of the diesel range, the frugal 93bhp 1.6-litre unit is the best performing in terms of running costs, returning 61.4mpg on the combined cycle.
Better looking, more efficient and more comfortable, the C-Max also continues Ford’s attempts to pack as much equipment as possible into its two trim levels; Zetec and Titanium.
Standard features include Ford’s DAB Audio system with remote audio controls, air conditioning, front fog lights, electric heated door mirrors, 16" alloy wheels and a tyre repair kit.
The Titanium specification adds extras such as automatic climate control, larger alloy wheels, Sony entertainment system and cruise control. Extra styling and equipment packs can be specified if needed.
The new Ford C-Max is a breakthrough for Ford. The compact MPV – which is also available as a seven-seat people carrier in the shape of the Ford Grand C-Max – combines superb handling with practicality and, more importantly, desirability.
Forget those old notions of boring MPVs – cars as good as the new Ford C-MAX have made them obsolete.
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