Ford C-MAX MPV
Price £18,195 - £26,145
- Fast and efficient engines
- Practical and well built
- Fun to drive
- Rivals more versatile
- Too much wind noise at speed
- Shoulder room tight in middle seat
At a glance
"With its high seating position and good view out, a range of loading options and a narrow rear centre seat, the C-MAX suits an active family with young children."
The Ford C-MAX is a mid-size, five-seat people carrier whose rivals include the Volkswagen Golf SV, Citroen C4 Picasso and Renault Scenic. If you need seven seats, then you’ll have to consider larger models such as the C-MAX's bigger brother, the aptly named Ford Grand C-MAX, the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer or the Volkswagen Touran.
The Ford B-MAX, the C-MAX's smaller brother, is the clever one with sliding doors and no central door pillars for easier access. Even so, the C-MAX is impressively practical, with a high roofline and a raised driving position that offers good visibility, while the three individual rear seats are removable, if a little on the heavy side. On top-spec versions, the central rear seat can slide, creating extra room for occupants in the outer seats.
There's a wide choice of engines, including two 1.0-litre turbocharged petrols (we prefer the more powerful 123bhp for its blend of performance and fairly low running costs) and three 1.5-litre diesels. The small petrols need to be driven quite hard to keep up with traffic and as a consequence, their much-trumpeted fuel economy can take a big hit.
That's why our favourite C-MAX engine of them all is the 118bhp 1.5-litre diesel. It can do 68.9mpg and costs £20 a year to tax – yet can also take the car from 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds and deal with a full load of passengers and luggage without breaking a sweat.
The C-MAX is based on the Ford Focus, one of our favourite cars. Like the Focus, it's fun to drive, with direct, accurate steering and firm yet comfortable suspension. Despite its height, it doesn’t lean too much in corners, either. It's grippy, too, thanks in part to a system that directs power to the wheel with the most traction.
With its compact dimensions, raised stance, good visibility and decent practicality, the C-MAX suits a young and active family. If you regularly carry adults and their luggage, however, a conventional hatchback such as a Focus might be a better choice.
There are three trim levels, called Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X, plus a wide range of option packs. All are well equipped, with even the basic Zetec getting air-conditioning, alloy wheels, a central armrest and DAB digital radio. For around £150, the Family Pack adds integrated rear sunblinds, seatback trays and LED reading lights – all useful if you have children.
There are question marks over the long-term reliability of the small 1.0-litre petrol engines, which makes the diesels still more desirable. This latest Ford C-MAX has yet to be crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but its predecessor scored the full five stars.
All versions have a full set of airbags, tyre-pressure monitoring and hill-start assistance. However, rear parking sensors are only available as an option.
The most efficient Ford C-MAX petrols are powered by Ford’s new EcoBoost engines, equipped with start-top technology and six-speed manual gearboxes
The Ford C-MAX EcoBoost petrol engines are state-of-the-art; ideal for owners who make short urban journeys and those with low to average annual mileage
With just three trim levels to choose from, even in basic Zetec trim the Ford C-MAX has a good range of standard equipment
Loading the Ford C-MAX boot is made easier by a high sill and uncluttered sides
Questions have been raised over the long-term durability of the small but powerful EcoBoost petrol engines