Ford takes simplicity to C-Max
If you like your car to be economical, fun to drive and good looking, then look no further than Ford's latest MPV models, writes Philip Hedderman
Maximum effort, minimum fuss -- that's the message from Ford as it launches not one but two new models in its MPV range. The new Ford C-Max is getting a big brother in the guise of the Grand C-Max and the slightly longer model gets, among other things, seven seats.
Now, in these not so plentiful times, car buyers, especially those with growing families, are the most diverse and complex.
This choice is not just a car or mode of transport -- it's practically a member of the family. It will have to ferry not only your little darlings but neighbours, friends, waifs and strays to school, football training and the like. It will also have to cope with baby seats, the weekly shop, and all that holiday luggage. Oh, did I mention that it has to be economical, fun to drive and good looking? That list is longer than the one home-alone dads are left when 'herself' goes off for a girlie weekend, but it's one that Ford engineers have cracked.
To be fair, they had a pretty good template to build on. The old model was a huge hit with Irish motorists with its high driving position, great flexibility and of course, a bloody good drive. The same applies here except it is even better.
The five-seat C-Max (which has some DNA of the new Focus) handled like a dream on the winding mountain roads of Nice and cruised like a luxury saloon on motorways.
Big brother lost a little of the refined handling, but what it lacked in agility it made up in torque, thanks to the 140bhp diesel engine.
But it is the simplicity of the design which will win over any doubters. Every single aspect of the drudgery of everyday life has been taken into consideration here. The clever walk-through seating plan in the seven-seater is brilliant giving a two plus two plus two formation and a fold-away seventh seat. Sliding doors on both sides of the car makes parking and getting kids in and out easy. Seat belt sensors on all the rear buckles means you know all on board are safely secure without having to do a Gestapo-style head count and check. Throw in a power operated tailgate -- which at the touch of a button opens and closes the massive boot and you're in heaven.
One optional extra well worth checking out is the Active Park Assist. This piece of kit (normally found on BMWs and Lexus) will scan a parking space and if large enough, will actually Parallel Park the car for you. Amazing. It's a must considering it costs less than €800 and unlike other gadgets, you'll actually use it more than once.
In order to keep the price down, only diesel versions will go on sale here with a 1.6L, 95bhp proving the most popular as the C-Max in Band A (€104 road tax) and Grand in Band B (€156). The 2.0L 140bhp are both in Band B while a 115bhp automatic is in band C (€302) for both.
Standard spec on the Active models include 16-inch alloy wheels, heated windscreen, front electric windows, CD, air con and Bluetooth Voice control. Rear parking sensors, power child locks, folding mirrors and rear seatbelt minder are standard on the Grand. The Titanium comes with all of the above and 17-inch alloys, cruise control, speed limiter, Hill Launch Assist, automatic headlights, climate control, electric back windows and roof rails.
Priced at €23,600, it's a whole lotta bang for your buck.