Ford C-MAX MPV
Price: £17,650 - £25,600
- 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
"The new Ford C-MAX is a practical, stylish, and well-built compact MPV with sporty handling."
The second-generation Ford C-MAX compact MPV is based on the Ford Focus family hatchback and is a bridge between that and Ford's bigger MPVs. The latest model is fun, stylish and much better than the original model - its appealing practicality being more than a match for main competitors like the Renault Scenic and Volkswagen Touran.
All the rear seats can be folded flat or even removed entirely to create a van-like storage space. However, it isn’t as flexible on a daily basis as the Scenic or as flat-out useful as the seven-seater Touran, and its optional accessories prove a bit expensive for this type of car.
New EcoBoost engines have been added to the range, adding better acceleration and lower running costs at the same time, and we’d recommend the 148bhp 1.6-litre EcoBoost as the best engine on offer.
The C-MAX is comfy while having sporty handling, making it one of the best compact MPVs on the market. It's strictly a five-seater, so if you have to carry seven adults and love the C-MAX, you should probably go for the Ford Grand C-MAX instead.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Economy is good and tax is relatively cheap
The most efficient C-MAX engine is currently the 1.6-litre TDCi diesel, which returns 61.4mpg in combined fuel economy and emits 117g/km of CO2.
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is capable of returning 55.4mpg and also emitting 117g/km of CO2, which is impressive because of the size of the engine. You can also get a 1.6-litre EcoBoost in Titanium X models, but be aware that EcoBoost models are more expensive. Also bear in mind that Ford's three-year/60,000-mile warranty doesn’t match the warranties offered by Kia or Hyundai, so its likely to cost more to maintain that its rivals after the initial three years of ownership.
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
It may be a compact MPV, but the C-MAX's dimensions make it a very practical car indeed. You get a great view from the high driving position, which has a good range of adjustment in both the steering wheel and the very supportive driver's seat.
The standard fit 40:20:40 split-fold back seats are very convenient, with the centre seat folding away completely so that the two outer seats can slide back and create more space in the back if you only have two rear passengers. If you do put a third passenger in the middle seat, though, they’ll have very little shoulder or legroom. All back seats can be removed, but taking them out is very fiddly and the seats are heavy, so you won’t feel like doing it on a regular basis. Once out though, the boot expands from 471 litres of space to a mighty 1,723 litres. Alas, the loading area isn’t flat.
Optional extras include active park assist that can parallel park your car for you, and a Family Pack that adds a powered boot and rear sunblinds. You also get lots of storage, including deep door bins, cup holders and a big glove compartment. Titanium-spec models also throw in a centre console storage box with a sliding armrest.
Reliability & safety
Good safety record and the car is well made
Fords don’t perform as well as you might expect in customer satisfaction surveys. In the 2013 Driver Power poll, Ford came 23rd out of 32, which is actually two places higher than its 2012 showing. The only real consolation is that it finished higher its main mass-producing UK rival, Vauxhall. The C-MAX itself ranked 42nd in its debut in the list of the top 100 cars, which is good, but one of its main problem areas was reliability, followed closely by performance and build quality. Ford's interiors have improved recently, as has the dealer network, so the C-MAX will be easy to get fixed if there is a problem.
The car was awarded the full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety test, coming fitted with driver, passenger and curtain airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchor points, traction control, electronic stability control (ESP) and a grip-boosting system as standard equipment.
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
The entry-level Zetec comes fitted with air-conditioning, a leather steering wheel, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, 16-inch alloy wheels, voice control and a heated front windscreen as standard, while the Titanium specification throws in an upgraded stereo system, 17-inch alloys, automatic windscreen wipers and headlamps, a tyre deflation detection system, dual-zone climate control, seat-back tables, an auto-dimming main mirror, keyless start, cruise control with speed limiter, and hill-start assist. Titanium X models add 17-inch alloy wheels (which makes the ride harsher), panoramic sunroof, and HID bi-xenon headlights with automatic height levelling and jet wash function.
The accessories list is pretty long, with active park assist, parking sensors and blind spot monitoring all on offer for extra cash. A selection of options packs are also on offer, including a Driver Assistance Pack that adds active city stop, lane keep alert, traffic sign recognition and automatic high beam headlights.
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."
Last updated: 10 Mar 2014