Ford C-MAX MPV
Price £18,395 - £26,345
- 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 visibility, a range of loading options and a narrow rear centre seat, the Ford C-MAX suits an active family with young children."
The Ford C-MAX is a five-seat people carrier that competes with the Citroen C4 Picasso, Renault Scenic and Volkswagen Golf SV in the mid-size family car market. While the C-MAX is very practical, it doesn’t accommodate seven people, so those buyers with large families will need to look at bigger cars like the Ford Grand C-MAX, Vauxhall Zafira Tourer and the Volkswagen Touran.
The Ford C-MAX does, however, boast a high roofline, a raised driving position for good visibility and rear seats that can be removed individually. In short, it's a very practical car, which is even truer of top-spec models that have a sliding central rear seat in order to create more space for people sitting in the outer rear seats.
The engine range includes three petrol options and three diesels. A 1.0-litre turbocharged engine comes with either 98bhp or 123bhp and the latter is worth paying for if you can afford it, as the extra performance costs nothing in economy. One of the main drawbacks of the petrol choices is that the car's size and weight means you regularly need to work the engines pretty hard, which can make them loud and less economical.
The pulling power of the diesel engines means they are a better match for the C-MAX. Our favourite is the 118bhp 1.5-litre diesel, which is capable of 68.9mpg and costs £20 a year to tax. Not only is cheap to run but the C-MAX can do 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds, which is reasonable for a car of this type, plus cope with a full complement of passengers and luggage without struggling.
It might initially surprise you to read that the C-MAX is fun to drive. The steering is direct and accurate and the suspension is firm enough to stop the car rolling too much without being uncomfortable. The C-MAX also generates plenty of grip thanks to a system that assigns more power to the wheel with the most traction. The driving dynamics make more sense when you learn that the car is based on the Ford Focus, which is one of our favourite cars thanks in part to its impressive driving characteristics.
Overall, its compact size, spacious interior, good visibility and decent practicality make the C-MAX a good fit for a young family.
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