"The B-MAX is a brilliantly usable, great-to-drive small people carrier."
Ford's new small MPV rivals the likes of the Vauxhall Meriva, Nissan Note and Honda Jazz. The B-MAX is based on the Fiesta, but adds a taller body for more space, plus it has no pillar between the front and back doors. Add sliding rear doors (a huge help in tight parking spaces), and the B-MAX has a 150cm-wide door opening – double what you get with a single door. This makes it much easier to get anything in the back seats. Yet like the Fiesta, the B-MAX is still fun to drive, with a comfortable ride and good economy.
THE B-MAX is based on the Fiesta, so this small MPV is the class leader on the road. The ride is comfortable and the drive easy, with nice steering that feels well connected to the road. There's plenty of grip, even at speed, but while the extra height means the car will lean more than a Fiesta in bends and it can feel bouncy over dips and crests, it won’t make the children feel sick in the back. The gearshift is also easy and there's an auto option, although it's only available with a 1.6 and not with one of the newer, more frugal engines.
Not only is this Ford easy to get into, it's easy to get comfortable once you’re inside. There's plenty of leg and headroom for anyone in the front or back, while the seats are supportive, too. The driving position is good, with height-adjustable seats and a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach. The major controls are nicely sited, but there are simply too many buttons on the stereo.
Every Ford comes with RAC cover – not that you’ll need it. The new B-MAX should be reliable, with the brand scoring well in our sister title Auto Express's annual Driver Power satisfaction survey. It's just a pity Ford dealers’ customer service doesn’t always live up to the quality of the product. Inside, quality isn’t quite as good as in a VW Polo, but it's better than in a Kia Venga or Hyundai ix20.
The B-MAX's party trick is its Easy Access system. By doing away with the pillar between the front and back doors, and fitting sliding rear doors, Ford has made this car incredibly easy for anyone of any age to get into and out of. Once inside, there's loads of space. Tall adults can sit in the back behind tall adults in the front and you can get three in the back, too, although if the three are adults it’ll be a bit tight. The square boot has over 300 litres of room, plus you can hide valuables under the false floor or set it at a lower position for more room. The rear seats and front passenger seat fold flat easily, too. The sliding doors add so much practicality that the B-MAX would be ideal for anyone used to a larger MPV or SUV who are looking to downsize.
Value for money
Even the entry-level B-MAX Studio is well equipped, with a digital radio, lots of safety kit, air-con and those sliding doors. Top seller will be the Zetec, with alloys and sportier trim – it's priced to rival a Vauxhall Meriva, but is far more desirable. At the top of the range is the B-MAX Titanium, justifying its price with its Sony stereo, climate control, and auto wipers and lights. There are lots of good-value options, like the Auto City Stop system that stops you bumping into the car in front if your attention wanders at low speed. And, as this is a Ford, you should be able to get a good deal, plus low-rate finance.
Ford is proud of its small-capacity, 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engines, and two are available in the B-MAX. They mix better efficiency with a decent amount of power, and the more powerful of the two is great fun to drive, with strong acceleration and a cheeky thrumming sound. The best diesel is the pricier 1.6 TDCi, which has the lowest emissions and economy (over 70mpg), plus outperforms the 1.5-litre diesel. Unfortunately, the automatic version only comes with an older, thirstier 1.6-litre petrol engine.