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The Top Gear car review:Ford C-Max
For:Good road manners, spacious cabin and fine build quality, neat facelift
Against:Not really that much trim choice
1.6 TDCi Zetec 5dr
What we say:
The Ford C-Max drives very ably, and there's a fair bit of room in there too
What is it?
Basically, it’s a big Focus. The C-Max is Ford’s compact MPV, so it only has five seats, but it’s just the thing if you’re after more space but the same great driving experience and plush cabin as you get in the Focus.
Need more than a couple of extra seats? No problem. The Grand C-Max is on hand with space for seven and sliding rear doors for easier access. Trim levels are perhaps a bit limited (Zetec, Titanium, or ‘Titanium extra’), but that’s not always a bad thing.
At last, the facelifted C-Max is now here, gaining Ford’s Aston Martin-style grille, some refreshed diesel engines and other tweaks to try and make it as appealing as an S-Max.
If you’re a family type but still enjoy driving, the C-Max is perfect, as it is more entertaining than its familyman image would have you believe.
The steering is light enough to make low-speed manoeuvrability easy, but it’s also extremely sharp and delicate, so the Ford feels agile and crisp out of town. There’s no shortage of grip and the ride is stable enough. It’s perhaps a little firmer on the bumps than most but not to the point of becoming uncomfortable. There isn’t much roll for an MPV either.
As for the engines, the entry-level 105bhp 1.6 feels overwhelmed, so we welcome the 2013 introduction of the wonderful 1.0-litre EcoBoost. Sounds unlikely, but it works well and is charming to drive. Ford’s latest turbocharged EcoBoost 1.6 unit is also available with 150bhp, and it’s brilliant. The 1.5-litre TDCi diesel is the one to go for if you want to keep your running costs to a minimum though. It’s potent enough to almost render the bigger 2.0-litre diesel redundant, although its extra torque is admittedly welcome.
On the inside
Each seat slides and folds down individually and the Grand C-Max has an additional 140mm of space, which doesn’t sound like much, but it allows for the extra two seats at the back. What’s equally handy is the fact that the smallest seat in the central row can be easily lifted out if you’re only carrying five or six.
The sliding rear doors on the Grand C-Max are good for tight parking spots and the standard car has a sizeable 471-litre boot. The dash in both cars is top quality and quite plush, so they’re a pleasure to sit in.
In typical Ford style, the C-Max in either guise is a bit dearer than its direct competitors, but you’ll forgive it that when you’re taking the long way home from dropping the kids off at football practice. Diesels offer great economy, the best being the 1.5 TDCi, which in five-seat C-Max guise averages 68.9mpg and emits 105g/km of CO₂. You ought to get 40-odd mpg out of the petrols too, so no C-Max can be described as uneconomical.