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The Top Gear car review: Ford B-Max

£12,910£19,270
7/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Capable new mini-MPV makes us forget all about the silly Fusion

Against: 

You need one of the pricier, more powerful engines to show off its best
An excellent and eminently practical car from Ford.

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Our choice

Ford

1.0 EcoBoost Zetec 5dr

£15,440
N/A
55mpg
13.20s
100bhp
119g/km

What we say: 

Ford finally joins the mini-MPV fray with a clever car packed with potential

What is it?

Making practical variants of supermini-sized cars is big business nowadays: Nissan Note, Citroen C3 Picasso, Kia Venga – all take the bones of a small car and build it upwards to give it the flexibility of a much bigger car. Clever. And, what has Ford had to offer in this sector up to now? The dreadful Fusion.

Finally, though, Uncle Henry’s pulled his finger out and launched what could actually be the smartest, most intelligent supermini-MPV this sector has yet seen. Not only is the B-Max a ground-up design rather than a Fiesta with chunky wheelarches, it also has two firsts in this sector: twin sliding side doors and no central B-pillar. That’s right: open front doors and slide back rears, for an obstruction-free 1.5m-wide aperture on each side. And if that’s not enough to make you notice the B-Max, we don’t know what is.

Ford hasn’t forgotten the rest of it, either. Like so many blue oval cars these days, it’s a neat-looking thing with lots of groovy surfacing in the side panels that make it less van-like than some in this sector. The all-new interior is also stylish, and can be packed with the on-board tech Ford is becoming known for over in the US.

Driving

Despite being a practical mini-MPV, it’s also a true Ford: the B-Max really scores with the way it drives. The ride initially feels a bit stiff, but you quickly realise it’s firm, not hard – and so unlikely to make the kids seasick. The benefit for the driver is that it’s fun to drive too, much more so than most in this sector. The way it feels bigger and more expensive than it actually is also impresses.

The 1.4-litre Duratec engine is a bit humdrum, mind. You’ll be better off with the 1.0-litre Ecoboost or, better still, one of the torquey yet fuel-sipping diesels.

On the inside

The slick sliding doors are genuinely practical. If you’ve ever tried to undock a toddler from a tight car-parking space, you’ll know how helpful sliding doors and no central B-pillar will be.

The solidly-constructed interior is also spacious and very practical, with a multitude of seat-fold operations. And the neat details, while not particularly revolutionary, all combined to make it a useful car to live with. We love how the front seatbelts are built into the seats themselves, too.

Owning

Prices start from £12,995, so it’s not the cheapest MPV on sale, but it’s likely to be one of the best – and besides, the Vauxhall Meriva has proven people will pay a premium for this type of vehicle, so long as they still come in below Astras and Focuses. An added B-Max benefit is fuel economy: diesels claim over 70mpg and even the 1.0 Ecoboost can return nearly 58mpg.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.0 EcoBoost 125 Titanium 5dr
11.2s 114g/km 57.7 125 £17,240
The cheapest
1.4 Studio 5dr
13.8s 139g/km 47.1 90 £12,910
The greenest
1.5 TDCi 95 Titanium 5dr
13.0s 98g/km 74.3 95 £18,070

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

6/10

Nissan Juke

£13,745£25,950
A Nissan Juke doesn't have the space or practicality, but it certainly has the stylish good looks in abundance