The new Ford C-Max is a handsome thing. Well, it is among its class. But since that class is ‘slightly tubby mini people-carriers', this is not a vehicle that can naturally claim a shelf in the chiller cabinet of cool. But it's worth exploring for two reasons.
One, it's actually an exceedingly fine-driving slightly chubby mini people-carrier.
And two, beneath the chubbiness beats the heart of the all-new Ford Focus.
This is the first of a new generation of Ford's mid-sizer. And so, to take only a little journalistic licence, what we're sampling here is the basis of the big-mouthed Tango-hued new Focus ST. There's cause for much optimism.
Even in people-carrier form, this is a beautifully developed car. The steering's precise and quick-witted, and the handling's just so. The ride combines suppleness on town potholes with quiet authority out in the country.
The other headline news is the all-new 1.6-litre, 150bhp ‘Ecoboost' engine, which will serve nicely in the next Focus hatch and estate, too. It's small of size and light of weight, but weighty of tech. Pulls like a bulldog from practically any point on the rev dial, stays refined, and is most unthirsty.
Five of you can get comfy in the C-Max, and if there are just two in the back they can slide right back to limo-style dimensions, albeit one without the neon headlining, fridge or gun cabinet.
The C-Max is actually two cars, for there's a Grand C-Max too. It's longer between the wheels, and has sliding doors, a glassier boxier tail end, and seven seats instead of five. Its evil mission is to steal children. Well, children and their parents, who would otherwise be buying Zafiras.
But the utility of seven-seat folding arrangements is not why we're here.
We're here to speculate how this car will be if you lower the body, stiffen the already capable chassis, and replace the 1.6 with a 2.0 Ecoboost packing another 100 horses, and call it Focus ST. Its a pretty feverish kind of speculation, be assured.