Ford B-MAX mini MPV
Price £12,995 - £19,095
- Wide door opening
- As easy to drive as a Ford Fiesta
- Cheap to buy and run
- Quality isn’t up to Volkswagen standards
- No seven-seat option
- Automatic only comes with one engine
At a glance
"The Ford B-MAX is a brilliantly usable, great-to-drive small people carrier."
The Ford B-MAX's most distinctive feature is its lack of a B-pillar, which in most cars separates the front and rear passenger compartments of the interior. Losing the B-pillar means the B-MAX offers excellent access to the rear seats – perfect for families – while its sliding rear doors reveal a bigger opening than you would get with conventional swing doors.
The B-MAX competes with small MPVs (and versatile hatchbacks) such as the Vauxhall Meriva, Honda Jazz, Kia Venga, Citroen C3 Picasso, and Nissan Note. It's available in four levels of trim – Studio, Zetec, Titanium, and top-of the range Titanium X.
The car gets a decent range of petrol and diesel engines, which all offer reasonable levels of economy, although the low-spec diesel is very sluggish. The B-MAX is also good fun to drive as well as being comfortable.
The basic Style model gets decent levels of equipment, while the Titanium X top-spec model gets most of the kit anyone will ever need.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Frugal EcoBoost petrol engines and decent diesels
The Ford B-MAX can be specced with the company's excellent small-capacity EcoBoost petrol engine – in two different power outputs. Both provide decent performance, while the former gets 55.4mpg and the latter, more powerful engine gets a more impressive figure of 57.7mpg. Both EcoBoost engines pay road tax of £30 annually. The least economical B-Max model is the 1.6-litre PowerShift automatic, which can only manage 44.1mpg and pricy annual road tax of £145.
The most economical engine is the 1.6-litre diesel, which can get as much as 70.6mpg and costs £20 to tax. The smaller 1.5-litre diesel qualifies for the same band of road tax but is slightly less economical and quite a bit slower.
Interior & comfort
An easy car to live with and enjoy
The B-MAX's biggest selling point for families is the lack of the B-Pillar behind the driver and front passenger's seat. Removing it has meant that access to the rear is excellent, making plenty of space to fit baby seats or to make sure the kids are buckled up properly. All the B-MAX's seats offer decent levels of space, while the driving position offers lots of adjustability, so getting comfortable should be easy for anyone.
One criticism of the B-MAX is that it can get a bit noisy at motorway speeds, where the lack of a sixth gear means the engine has to work a bit harder than is ideal.
Practicality & boot space
Easy to get into, easy to use, a winner on space
Access to the rear seats of the B-MAX is better than you’ll find in any of its rivals thanks, to the lack of a B-pillar but also due to the car's large sliding rear doors, which give much bigger openings than more conventional swing-out doors. They also mean that access isn’t restricted when, for example, you’re parked tightly between two other cars in a supermarket car park.
Tall adults should be able to fit in the back in relative comfort, even if they’re stuck behind equally tall front passengers, and the B-MAX also has a reasonable 318 litres of boot space, which expands to an impressive 1,386 litres with the rear seats (and front passenger seat) folded down. If you regularly need more space than this, the Citroen C3 Picasso or Kia Venga have more.
Reliability & safety
Decent all-round build quality and excellent reliability
Ford didn’t do particularly well in our 2013 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, finishing 23rd out of 32 manufacturers, though this was still ahead of main rivals such as Citroen (24th) and Vauxhall (26th). The B-MAX didn’t feature in our rankings for specific models.
Although interior quality can’t match cars from Volkswagen, it still edges ahead of rivals such as the Kia Venga.
The Ford got a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP and comes fitted as standard with electronic stability control, as well as driver and front passenger airbags, and seatbelt reminders.
Engines, drive & performance
Best in class to drive – feels like a Fiesta
The Ford B-MAX is based on the excellent Ford Fiesta, which means it is more fun to drive than any of its rivals. That comes thanks to responsive, confidence inspiring steering and comfortable suspension. Having said that, the B-MAX is taller than the Fiesta and suffers from more body lean in corners as a result. The suspension can sometimes get a bit too bouncy on bumpy roads, also.
No B-MAX is hugely fast, although the more powerful EcoBoost engine can get the car from 0-60mph in a reasonable 11.2 seconds. The 1.5-litre diesel and the 1.4-litre petrol can feel slow.
Price, value for money & options
Keenly priced with good deals on offer
The Ford B-Max is competitively priced, and it is worth remembering there could be decent discounts on offer if you are prepared to haggle. In basic Studio trim, the car gets body-coloured bumpers, electrically operated door mirrors, electric windows all round, a height adjustable driver's seat, and remote central locking. The mid-range Zetec model adds useful features such as air-con and a DAB digital radio, while standard alloy wheels give it a smarter appearance outside.
The high-spec Titanium gets climate-control and larger alloy wheels, while the top-of-the-range Titanium X model adds luxury fittings such as part leather seats that are heated in the front.
What the others say
The Ford B-MAX supermini MPV gives a great drive and sliding-door flexibility. It's based on the excellent Fiesta but features a taller roof, innovative sliding doors and versatile five-seater interior. The lack of B-pillars means it is incredibly practical, while loading kids and kit into the back is a doddle. Available with Ford's excellent EcoBoost petrol engine, the B-MAX is sure to steal sales in the compact MPV sector.
Don’t go thinking the B-Max is just a bloated Fiesta, though, it's far more clever than that. The B-Max comes with sliding rear doors and no central pillar, an arrangement that is designed to provide easy access. The B-Max's unusual layout gives it an unobstructed rear door opening space, which Ford claims is more than double that offered by the Vauxhall Meriva, with its rear-hinged doors. All this makes the B-Max very much a standalone model.
The low running costs and excellent practicality on offer should help the B-Max appeal to a wide spectrum of society but it may take a little time for people to get their heads around the absence of mid-pillars. If Ford has got it right and the sliding doors catch on it is sure to be as popular as the S-Max and C-Max. In some respects it's the perfect compromise: its compact dimensions might well appeal to the city dwellers that want something that's easy to park in tight spots and its clever use of space could prove irresistible to young families where spaciousness is a top priority.