When: April, 2015
Where: Palma, Majorca
What: Ford C-Max 1.5 EcoBoost
Occasion: International first drive review
Overall rating: 3.5/5
The new Ford C-Max takes on a more sophisticated look and improves on the subtle practicalities needed to make a small MPV work well.
Model: Ford C-Max 1.5 EcoBoost Titanium
Pricing: starts from €25,755
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door compact MPV
CO2 emissions: 144g/km (Band C, €390 per year)
Combined economy: 44.8mpg (6.3 litres/100km)
Top speed: 202km/h
0-100km/h: 9.7 seconds
Power: 150hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 240Nm at 1,600- to 4,000rpm
Boot space: 432- to 1,684 litres
EuroNCAP: not yet tested
In the Metal:
The new look of the Ford C-Max now more closely apes that of the Focus, in much the same way as the Volkswagen Golf SV bears similarities to the Golf. Ford's smaller people carriers had been guilty of looking a tad awk-ward in the styling stakes before, but this new C-Max moves the game on a good deal.
Much of this fresher image comes thanks to the new front styling of the current Ford range where trapezoidal grilles and sleek headlights are the order of the day. This has been well executed in the new C-max, which does away with the dual grille set-up of the previous model in favour of one single design and also features a wide lower intake that helps give the car a solid stance from the front. The relatively short bonnet flows neatly into the raked windscreen that is framed by thin A-pillars. Little has changed in the side profile; it remains a generously glazed area allowing plenty of light into the cabin, however, the rear now has a tidier image.
Inside, the design is a big improvement over its predecessor. Ford has paid attention to customer feedback and reduced the number of buttons and overall busy look of the dashboard in favour of a cleaner, more intuitive design. As an option, the 8-inch colour touchscreen that is part of the SYNC 2 infotainment system can be added, while a nicer, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel looks and feels less bulky. The quality of the materials used throughout the interior has also been improved upon and it retains good levels of head and legroom for passengers as well we fea-turing clever versatility.
Given Ford's adeptness when it comes to chassis development, it is not overly sur-prising that the C-Max performs very well in a variety of driving conditions. Granted, the billiard table smooth roads of Majorca didn't overly tax the car, but it did present enough opportunity to see how nicely it handles on free-flowing roads. Changes to the suspension offer improved levels of damping while changes to the camber have been made to enhance the steering. The C-Max is a car more capable than many will ever demand from it, but it is at least reassuring to see that Ford hasn't skimped on the car's dynamics despite its more practical focus.
The 150hp 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine in our test car won't be making an ap-pearance in the C-Max lineup in Ireland. In its place will be the 100- and 125hp 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbocharged three-cylinder engines, and given how well we have seen these perform in the new Focus, neither should take away too much from the overall experience. On the diesel side of things, where Ford Ireland expects most C-Max sales to come from, will be a new 1.5-litre TDCi engine. Available in both 95- and 120hp versions, the former is expected to be the most popular choice. From the driver's seat, visibility is good thanks to that generously sized windscreen and thin A-pillars. In fact visibility all round is quite good with both side and rear view mirrors giving decent fields of view.
What you get for your Money:
At first glance, the €25,755 starting price might seem a touch expensive to some but it's worth pointing out that Ford is only bringing the C-Max into Ireland in its two higher specification levels - Zetec and Titanium. Standard specification includes 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning and the less advanced SYNC 1 infotainment sys-tem. Ford also includes rear privacy glass, MyKey, leather steering wheel, front fog lights and electric front windows.
The higher Titanium grade adds LED daytime running lights, dual zone climate con-trol, all-round electric windows and automatic headlight and window wiper operation but unfortunately the SYNC 2 system remains an optional extra. Aesthetically, larger 17-inch alloy wheels distinguish it, as does chrome detailing along the door line, scuff plates and interior ambient lighting.
Ford's MyKey system comes as standard on all C-Max models and allows different keys to be individually programmed to suit each user's needs. For example, one key could be given to a child learning to drive with the speed limit set to a certain point to prevent them from driving too fast.
Many families could benefit from the larger and more practical C-Max than one of the more popular five-door hatchbacks on the market. Its looks, especially in the higher Zetec trim, are smart and stylish too and don't scream people carrier either. Its only real hindrance is that it is still restricted to just carrying five people unlike the Grand C-Max that can take up to seven.