Ford B-MAX review: what’s it like to live with?

The Ford B-MAX is undoubtedly clever, but will it pass our tough examination?

What is a Ford B-MAX really like to own? CarBuyer will be spending the next year with the car to find out, in this real-world review. He'll be living with the car on a daily basis to find out what we can't from a normal review - what it's like to have one.

I’ve done it – I’ve finally achieved my BSc. Although not in the way you’re thinking… My BSc isn’t a much-coveted degree attained after years of academic toil. Instead, it signifies collecting the full set of Ford’s people carrier family.

I’ve run an S-MAX before, and driven countless C-MAXes, so the final piece in the jigsaw is the B-MAX supermini-MPV, which I’ve taken custody of. B, S, C... geddit?

With no B-pillar and innovative sliding doors, it’s a car that’s been hailed as a wonder of modern engineering, but will it sail through the thorough exam I intend to give it? Having donned my gown and mortar board, I feel fully qualified to issue a pass or a fail...

One word routinely used to describe the B-MAX is ‘clever’, and I have to admit that set some alarm bells ringing. It’s exactly the kind of word motoring journalists employ when there’s not much else positive to say. But there can be no disputing the fact that the B-MAX is, indeed, clever. For a start, it’s very spacious for what is, essentially, a small car, with pretty decent headroom and legroom in the rear.

What’s more, the sliding doors mean getting in and out of the back is easy for those with limited mobility, and are a real asset in tight parking bays. The drive, too, is an eye-opener. The B-MAX is better to drive than any supermini-MPV has the right to – a legacy of the fact that it’s based on the Ford Fiesta. To call it ‘fun’ might be pushing it too far, but it’s better than any of its immediate rivals in this respect.

Add in a wealth of equipment on our Zetec model – including Ford’s SYNC system, with Bluetooth and voice control, plus DAB – and you can see why the B-MAX was crowned Best Five-seat MPV in the Auto Express New Car Awards.

But that’s not to say there aren’t any irritations. The B-MAX is as well executed a supermini-MPV as we’ve seen yet, but there are still flaws. Take the doors for example. They supposedly make it easier to fit child seats, which presumably makes me – as the father of two young children – a target buyer. And that’s certainly true of front-facing ones. But there’s no real benefit with the rear-facing one we use for our baby daughter Erin. If anything it’s more fiddly to get her in, as the door doesn’t slide back far enough to give you decent access to the buckle on her seat.

Plus, as any parent will tell you, babies need a mountain of gear, and once Erin’s buggy is in the boot, there’s not an awful lot of room for much else. If you’re travelling with toddlers or newborns, you’ll get used to trying to fit luggage and all your gear into the cabin.

In fairness, that’s a problem I’ve encountered with all supermini-MPVs – these are people carriers based on small cars, after all. For families with one child, they’re fine. Anything more will be a real squeeze.

One gripe specific to the B-MAX, though, concerns the new 1.5-litre TDCi diesel. When loaded with luggage and passengers, the Ford is frustratingly slow: 0-62mph takes 16.5 seconds. It’s noisy on start-up, too.

So, clever or not, the B-MAX still has some convincing to do before it gets its own pass from the ‘Hope-n University’.

Ford B-MAX 1.5TDCi 75PS Zetec
Owned sinceMay 2013
Price new£16,995
Engine1.5-litre diesel, 74bhp
Emissions and tax109g/km, £20
Options Active City Stop (£200), City Pack (rear parking sensors & electric folding mirrors: £300)
Insurance£340 for a 42-year-old from Banbury, Oxfordshire, with three penalty points. Quote provided by AA (0800 107 0680).
Mileage so far2,295
Fuel Economy41.8mpg
Costs so farNone
Problems so farNone

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