Ford C-MAX MPV
Price £17,655 - £25,605
- Practical and well built
- Fun to drive
- Fast but efficient EcoBoost petrol turbo
- Rivals more versatile
- Shoulder room tight in central rear seat
- Options raise price fast
At a glance
"The new Ford C-MAX is a practical, stylish, and well-built compact MPV with sporty handling."
The Ford C-MAX is a small MPV that is a more practical alternative to the Ford Focus that it is based on. The model competes with rivals such as the Citroen C4 Picasso, Renault Scenic, Volkswagen Touran and Vauxhall Zafira.
Central to the appeal of the C-MAX is its practical interior, which offers more passenger space and is more flexible than the Ford Focus’. The boot is also significantly bigger and all the rear seats can be removed to give the Ford a load capacity to rival a small van. Ford also offers the Ford Grand C-MAX, which boasts seven seats.
C-MAX engine options include five petrols and three diesels. The basic 1.6-litre petrol is best avoided because it is neither quick nor economical. The two 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrols offer excellent economy, while the pair of 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrols provide impressive performance. Buyers can also pick between a 1.6-litre and two 2.0-litre diesels – the 1.6-litre is our favourite thanks to its excellent economy and decent performance.
C-MAX buyer can choose between three trim levels - Zetec, Titanium and top-of-the-range Titanium X. All models get a DAB digital radio, Ford's voice-controlled SYNC system, and air conditioning. Titanium models add cruise control, plus automatic headlights and wipers, while Titanium X models get a panoramic sunroof and part-leather seats.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Economy is good and tax is relatively cheap
The most economical engine in the C-MAX range is the 1.6-litre diesel that can return 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 117g/km for annual road tax of just £30. Both the 138bhp and 161bhp 2.0-litre diesel record 57.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 129g/km for a £110 a year tax bill.
The basic 1.6-litre petrol may be the cheapest model to buy, but its poor economy of 44.1mpg makes it hard to recommend. CO2 emissions of 149g/km mean road tax is also relatively expensive at £145 per year. The two 1.0-litre petrols make much more sense and come with either 99bhp or 123bhp. Both return 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions that convert into an annual road tax bill of £30. A pair of 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engines round off the range. They are the quickest models in the range and come in 148bhp and 180bhp form - both get 45.6mpg and emissions of 144g/km for road tax of £145 per year.
Ford has one of the biggest dealer networks in the country and servicing costs should be cheap, but Ford's standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty looks mean compared to Vauxhall's five-year/100,000-mile plan.
Interior & comfort
Firm ride and seats don’t detract from comfort
The C-MAX's suspension soaks up most bumps and potholes you’ll encounter, but the ride is definitely harsher than in a Scenic or a Vauxhall Zafira. Inside there is minimal wind and road noise, while the gearbox is also quiet.
The interior is modern and stylish overall, made from good-quality materials, but some controls are too fiddly and cluttered if you order a lot of the optional extras. Overall, it's still better than the interior of both the Volkswagen Touran and the Scenic.
You can also get the five-seater C-MAX with a 2+2 seat, which we think is worth thinking about if you carry adults in the back on a regular basis. The 2+2 allows you to fold away the centre back seat, allowing the outer seats to slide back and inwards to create extra shoulder and legroom.
Practicality & boot space
Very practical, but shoulder space can be tight
A range of practical functions distinguishes the C-MAX from the Ford Focus that it is based on. First off, the car's raised height gives the driver excellent visibility of the road ahead. The car comes with rear seats that split and fold in three parts, and the two outer seats can slide backwards and forwards to balance boot space with legroom. Carrying a third adult in the back means shoulder and elbow room can be tight.
The huge boot opening and a small lip means that getting heavy items in the load bay is fuss free and the 471-litre boot offers plenty of space. The C-MAX's rear seats can be removed entirely and doing this reveals a cavernous 1,723-litre load bay. Cubbyholes are also plentiful and the Ford has deep doorbins, cupholders, and a large glovebox. Titanium and Titanium X models also get a storage area with a lid in the centre console.
Reliability & safety
Good safety record and the car is well made
in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, the Ford C-MAX dropped 20 places from last year to finish in 62nd place out of 150 models. Despite this, owners reported that they found the C-MAX fun and easy to drive, and were big fans of its in-car tech. Mind you, 90th place for reliability could be a worry when combined with the relatively short warranty.
Safety is a C-MAX strongpoint thanks to the car's five-star rating from Euro NCAP. It gets six airbags as standard as well as traction control, stability control and ISOFIX mounts for two children's seats.
Engines, drive & performance
Sporty ride and great range of engines
The C-MAX drives much like a Ford Focus but has a higher roof and driving position. The suspension is firm but comfortable, while the driving experience is nicely sporty. The diesel engines offer a good mix of performance and economy, while the latest 148bhp 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol model is the most impressive, even though the diesels remain the most efficient. The 1.6-litre is really easy to drive around town and has a lot of power for its size – only motorway cruising highlights its shortcomings.
All models are fitted with a torque vectoring system as standard, which sends power to individual wheels for the most grip possible. The steering is precise and responsive, too. The non-turbo 1.6-litre engines come with a five-speed manual gearbox, while everything else gets a six-speed, and the 2.0-litre TDCI has the option of a surprisingly good automatic Powershift gearbox.
Price, value for money & options
Plenty of standard equipment and lots of options
Even entry-level Zetec C-MAXs come fitted with air-conditioning, a DAB digital radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and 16-inch alloy wheels. They also come fitted with Ford's SYNC voice control system and useful quickclear heated front windscreen.
Titanium models add an uprated stereo, 17-inch alloy wheels (that look good, but make the suspension more uncomfortable), dual-zone climate control (giving the driver and passenger separate ventilation controls), seat-back tables in the rear, cruise control, hill start assist, plus auto wipers and headlights.
The Titanium X models have the most generous levels of equipment they get a panoramic sunroof with electric-operated blind, hill-start assist, part-leather interior, heated front seats and a driver's seat that is electrically adjustable. The model also comes with powerful bi-xenon headlights that have washers fitted,plus the comfort seat system that allows you to fold away the middle rear seat.
The options list includes active park assist, blind spot monitoring (which alerts the driver to cars in their blind spot), and parking sensors. The Driver Assistance Pack is a good option to go for. It bundles city stop, lane keep alert, traffic sign recognition, and auto-dipping headlights into one package.
What the others say
"Plenty of room in here, but don't be fooled - bigger families will really need a Grand Scenic, Grand C4 Picasso or even Ford's own S-Max since it's purely a five-seater. Bootspace is 550 litres with the seats up (to the roof), but that jumps to a more than adequate 1,620-litre cavern if you plop all the seats flat. The C-Max is also 10mm shorter than the Focus hatch, and visibility is good, so they're easy to park."
"We drove the five-seater C-MAX, and while it lacks the seven-seater’s sliding rear doors and extra row of seats, it’s better looking. With its inverted trapezoidal grille, sharp headlights and tail-lights, and sleek, athletic shape, it’s proof that compact MPVs can be stylish."
"Ford's new global family of EcoBoost four-cylinder engines has been developed by Ford powertrain engineers based in the U.K. and is being progressively introduced to the European product range starting in 2010. EcoBoost combines turbocharging and direct injection technology to deliver fuel consumption and CO2 emissions reduced by up to 20 per cent compared to conventional larger displacement petrol engines with a similar power output."
"If you listen to marketing hype surrounding the motoring industry then you will have come across three regularly used words: sporty, dynamic and innovative. There is a chance that they might actually apply to Ford’s new C-Max. In five-seat guise it is a good looking car and from the front looks akin to a supersized Fiesta."