Ford C-MAX MPV
Price £17,655 - £25,605
- Fun to drive
- Practical and well built
- Fast and efficient EcoBoost petrol engine
- Rivals more versatile
- Options raise price fast
- Shoulder room tight in central rear seat
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's a more practical alternative to the Ford Focus on which it's based. The model competes with rivals such as the Citroen C4 Picasso, Renault Scenic, Volkswagen Touran and Vauxhall Zafira.
Key to the appeal of the C-MAX is its practical interior, which offers more passenger space and greater flexibility than the Ford Focus. The boot is also significantly bigger and all the rear seats can be removed to give the Ford the load capacity of 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's 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 choose 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 buyers can choose from 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 adds cruise control, plus automatic headlights and wipers, while Titanium X cars have a panoramic sunroof and part-leather seats.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Economy is good and road tax is relatively cheap
The most economical engine in the C-MAX range is the 1.6-litre diesel, which can return 62.8mpg and has CO2 emissions of 117g/km for an 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 road tax bill.
The basic 1.6-litre petrol is 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 attract an annual road tax bill of £30. A pair of 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engines round off the range. They're the quickest models in the line-up and come in 148bhp and 180bhp forms. Both return 45.6mpg and have CO2 emissions of 144g/km for road tax of £145 per year.
Ford has one of the biggest dealer networks in the country and servicing should be cheap, but Ford’s standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty looks mean compared to Hyundai's five-year cover and Kia's seven-year plan.
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 yet comfortable, while the driving experience is sporty. The diesel engines offer a good balance 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 very 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. This sends power to individual wheels, in order to give the most grip possible at any given moment. The steering is precise and responsive, too. The non-turbocharged 1.6-litre engine has 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 Powershift automatic gearbox.
Interior & comfort
Firm ride and seats don’t detract from comfort
The C-MAX has suspension that soaks up most bumps and potholes you’ll encounter, but the ride is definitely harsher than in a Renault Scenic or a Vauxhall Zafira. Inside, there's minimal wind and road noise, while the gearbox is also quiet.
The interior is stylish and made from good-quality materials, but some controls are too fiddly and cluttered if you order a lot of optional extras. Overall, it’s still better than the interior of both the Volkswagen Touran and the Renault Scenic.
You can also get the five-seater C-MAX with a 2+2 seating option, which is worth thinking about if you carry adults in the back on a regular basis. The 2+2 allows you to fold away the central rear 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 on which it's based. 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 small lip means getting heavy items inside is easy 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 litres of room. Cubbyholes are also plentiful and the Ford has deep doorbins, cup-holders 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 Driver Power 2014 owner satisfaction survey, the Ford C-MAX dropped 20 places from 2013 to finish in 62nd place out of 150 models. Despite this, owners reported they found the C-MAX fun and easy to drive, and were big fans of its in-car technology. 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 child-seat mounts.
Price, value for money & options
Plenty of standard equipment and lots of options
Even the entry-level C-MAX Zetec has air-conditioning, a DAB digital radio, a Bluetooth phone connection, a USB port and 16-inch alloy wheels. It's also fitted with Ford’s SYNC voice-control system and a useful Quickclear heated front windscreen, which demists fast on even the coldest mornings.
Titanium models add an uprated stereo, 17-inch alloy wheels (which look good, but make the ride more uncomfortable), dual-zone climate control (giving the driver and passenger separate temperature settings), seat-back tables in the rear, cruise control, hill-start assistance, plus automatic wipers and headlights.
Titanium X models have the most equipment. Additional features over the other models include a panoramic sunroof with electrically operated blind, a part-leather interior, heated front seats and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat. The top model also comes with powerful bi-xenon headlights with washers, plus the 2+2 comfort seat system that allows you to fold away the middle rear seat.
The options list includes active parking assistance, 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, as it bundles a low-speed collision-avoidance system, lane-keeping assistance, traffic-sign recognition and automatically dipping headlights into one package.