The most useful things in life are those that offer maximum versatility. Smart phones enjoy success due to their ability to do far more than just make phone calls, a Swiss Army knife’s design has endured over the years thanks to its many functions. The term Multi-Purpose-Vehicle is often overused by car manufacturers, but Ford with their B-Max aspire to truly live up to the segments nameplate. Can this model really be used for commuting to work on Monday, the weekly shop on Wednesday and moving house on Sunday?
Its compact shape looks particularly nice in our test cars Frozen White paintwork and aesthetically it is clearly a car as opposed to a van with windows. Sporting Ford’s new ovular or “Aston Martin” grill, the B-Max much like the Fiesta is an attractive package proportionally. Its short overhangs and wheels pushed into its corners produce a modern, rather active looking shape. This car isn’t as big as some pictures would have you believe. Although it sits taller than a Ford Fiesta, it isn’t too dissimilar in its length and width.
Clearly Ford have utilised some Time Lord technology because despite its tidy exterior packaging, it pulls off the trick of being “bigger on the inside.” A high roofline facilitates a spacious cabin that seats five with ease. Our top specification Titanium model was fitted with the optional Sony audio system, which may be an extra £400, but the sound quality makes it well worth the investment. Although the instruments and centre console are clear to interpret, they are beginning to age and are in need of modernisation if Ford wants to keep up with competitors. A new interior design will be first introduced on the 2014 Ford Focus and later filter into existing models. The Ford B-Max, as well as its spacious passenger area, has a decent sized boot that also plays host to an under floor storage compartment. However, the B-Max’s real ace up its sleeve is its lack of a B pillar. Its wide opening front doors and sliding rear pair reveal a huge aperture of which can be used for loading and unloading vast objects that wouldn’t necessarily enter the car via the hatch. Versatile folding seats mean that it is actually possible to load an item that is almost the length of the car. The seats themselves are supportive and the driving position is comfortable.
This Ford B-Max 1.0T EcoBoost is equipped with the companies award winning 1 litre engine that in this specification produces 123BHP. I’m sure by now you have heard all about this little three cylinder engine that puts a lot of larger petrol units to shame. Pushing the starter button the lack of noise and especially vibration, considering its odd number of cylinders, is astonishing. Acceleration is effortless with the turbo producing a nice amount of torque to surge the car onwards. Visibility is good and the large mirrors also give you a good idea of what is around you. On motorways this plucky engine can more than hold its own, maintaining good speed with no fuss whatsoever. It even has enough poke to pull off even the most heroic overtaking manoeuvres on the often cutthroat battlefield that is the M3. How good the A4 sized engine is comes as no surprise to me as it is excellent in just about every car Ford decides to put it in. It is how the B-Max handles that impressed me the most. It feels light on its toes with its quick responses to steering inputs and relative lack of body roll. You can really throw this car into corners allowing the torque vectoring system to help rotate it into the bend. There is a good level of driver feedback through the wheel and the brakes are progressive. I actually found myself with a bit of a grin on my face driving down some country roads as the high levels of grip on offer and lack of weight from the engine enable some fantastic handling characteristics to shine through. Should it be this much fun to drive an MPV? There is a touch of turbo lag at times and under hard acceleration that classic three cylinder thrum can be heard, but overall we liked the B-Max as a daily driver. We managed to get 37MPG out of the car over multiple scenarios, which isn’t to bad considering, but is still far from what Ford claim.
Our car with DAB radio and satellite navigation did come to over £18,000 which is a lot for this sort of machine. That said, the Ford B-Max proved itself to be a likeable and versatile car that many people will be very happy with. In fact, we would go as far as to say that it tops its class.