"The seven-seater Ford Grand C-MAX could well be the best handling car in this segment and with its fantastic, practical interior, could even be the best car in its class."
The seven-seater Grand C-MAX offers the kind of handling and fun drive that you’d expect from a much smaller car, like its five-seater little brother, the C-MAX. Similar to the way the Renault Grand Scenic adds more space and practicality to the standard five-seat Scenic, the Grand C-MAX is longer and higher than the five-seat model. It's also very practical inside, with the interior showcasing an intuitive layout and build quality that is easily one of the best in the MPV class, with sliding doors that give it even more flexibility. The range of diesel engines offers an excellent combination of fuel economy and performance, while the EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engines are surprisingly fast and quiet. The Grand C-MAX comes in three specification levels – entry-level Zetec, mid-range Titanium and top-spec Titanium X.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
For the best efficiency and fuel economy, we’d recommend the 1.6-litre TDCi diesel engine, which returns 57.7mpg economy and emits 129g/km of CO2. But even if you opt for the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel, you’ll still see impressively frugal economy of 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 139g/km. As is often the case, if you decide you really want a petrol model, the 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine sees the emissions climb to 159g/km and the economy drop to 40.9mpg.
Interior & comfort
You’ll be hard pressed to find an MPV with a better balance of comfort and handling that the seven-seater Grand C-MAX. Long journeys are smooth and pass without any real discomfort for anyone inside. You will find more comfortable cars in the class, but their softer suspension means a lot of body roll in the corners, which you don’t get in the C-MAX. The interior has very little road, wind or engine noise, even when driving on the motorway. There's lots of leg and headroom in the front and the back, while the seats are well cushioned with plenty of bolstering to offer good side support.
Practicality & boot space
It may be immensely practical inside the Grand C-MAX, but with all seven seats in place, there's only a meagre 115 litres of boot space left – barely enough for the weekly shop. Fold down the third row of seats, though, and the boot expands to 432 litres, which should be enough for most people's every day needs and is bigger than in a Ford Focus. When you do need that little bit extra space for transporting large or bulky items, the middle row of seats also fold down flat to offer a pretty enormous 1,732 litres of storage capacity. As far as space for passengers is concerned, there's plenty of room in the second row for adults but the back seats really are only big enough for small children really. The driving position is excellent, with the seat and steering wheel fully adjustable to get comfortable and offer terrific visibility. The sliding doors prove useful in car parks, but the cabin is narrower than it looks – if you need more space, you may be better going for a Ford S-MAX instead.
Reliability & safety
Even though Ford could only finish 23rd in the 2013 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey's manufacturers ranking, it still has a good reliability record, with only a few minor faults blemishing the record of the previous C-MAX model. The current C-MAX ranked 42nd in the top 100 cars in the 2013 Driver Power poll, which is much better than the old car but still drags behind its main rival, the Renault Scenic. But even if problems do arise, you can be sure of hasty resolution to the problem. It's also a very safe car, scoring the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. That's partly down to the impressive number of airbags fitted as standard, as well as a plentiful array of electronic safety equipment and accessories that should prevent you getting into an accident in the first place. Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, blind-spot assistants and corner brake control all come as standard on the Grand C-MAX.
Engines, drive & performance
As is common with Ford, the wide selection of petrol and diesel engines means there's likely to be an engine to suit you. It isn’t quite as immense fun as the five-seat C-MAX, but it is still much more fun than any MPV really deserves to be. As is standard for Fords recently, the steering is agile and responsive, while the ride – now softer and more sensible – is very good indeed. As well as the 113bhp 1.6-litre engine there is now a much faster 2.0-litre diesel engine that offers 138bhp and a brilliant mix of performance and fuel economy. The 147bhp turbocharged EcoBoost is nicely quiet on the move and has strong and easy to access acceleration that makes overtaking much easier than you expect from a car of this size. At the top end of the range, the fastest diesel engine goes from 0-60mph in a speedy 10.2 seconds. Also, the Grand C-MAX belies its MPV dimensions with very little body roll through the corners, proving very well controlled and agile for a tall car.
Price, value for money & options
Even though the Zetec is the entry-level model, it still comes with a surprising amount of equipment and accessories – perhaps because Zetec is a mid-range spec in most Ford cars. So it comes with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, a DAB digital radio, rear parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity all fitted as standard. Choose the Titanium models and luxuries such as automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, cruise control, climate control and a hill-start assist system are added.