MAX Factor

Road test: New Ford C-MAX range

Ford has been steadily working through its models, bringing the company’s ‘kinetic design’ language right across the range. First used successfully on the Fiesta and recently on the excellent Focus, it has now reached the MAX models, along with some engine and technology tweaks. Apart from its grill, the C-MAX hasn’t changed materially on the outside but now has a new touch-screen for navigation and infotainment plus the new 1.5 diesel in the range. We tested all engines and both body styles (standard plus Grand C-MAX, with its handy third row of seats).

Based on the Focus, the C-MAX has a good starting position handling and refinement. It certainly rides very well and remains composed all the way from crawling about town up to motorway speeds. In fact, it has a much better ride than the slightly larger S-MAX which feels quite coarse in comparison. The C-MAX is also rather well-mannered through the corners: should you see one pushing hard in the bends, it’s probably because its driver is having a great deal of fun.

One litre Ecoboost petrol versus the 1.5 litre diesel

Engines, of course, transform any vehicle. We started with the two litre diesel and for anyone intending to drive long haul with a full car frequently, it is the most accomplished with sufficient torque to cope. It is probably the best engine for the slightly larger Grand C-MAX, too. Where the discussion becomes interesting is with the clever one litre Ecoboost petrol versus the 1.5 litre diesel. The petrol is smooth, efficient and belies its tiny displacement but for all its cleverness, it does lack the torque desired for a larger vehicle: perfect in the Fiesta but only just adequate in the C-MAX. We also noticed that the little petrol rides slightly lighter on its springs compared to the diesel due to the engine’s lower weight. This leaves the 1.5 diesel, which we found to be a great compromise between economy and performance. With a third more torque than the one-litre petrol, it is less likely to complain with a full car and consumption won’t be hit as hard as when labouring a smaller engine. It does need the turbo to spool-up before delivering its power so revs need to be kept on the boil on inclines or if pressing-on.

Inside our Titanium X test cars, we have all the toys we need (all variants are sensibly equipped) and the new Windows media/navigation interface is touch screen and much friendlier for our smartphone generation. Navigation doesn’t just like a post code without additional information – a mild irritation – but we managed all the same.

In and around the cabin, it is well-finished if a little unremarkable. Controls are easy, accurate and light, making it a pleasing experience behind the wheel. The seat adjustments are extremely flexible and driving comfort is top notch. The design of the pillars maximises all round visibility so it is straightforward to position on the road and a doddle to park. We did find the white trim on the inside of the A-pillars reflects on the windscreen though which is an annoyance (and could easily be solved with grey or black cloth).

In summary, the standardised grill across the range gives the C-MAX a smart look (although it’s now very hard to tell the Ford range apart from the front). The new 1.5 diesel is our pick, being smooth and working well with the C-Max’s size; we’d expect it to be the biggest seller and likewise, Ford is predicting it will pick up 71% of the car’s sales. The C-MAX is a practical and fine-handling car. Well-weighted controls and fluid ride make it a real pleasure to drive, too.

Ford C-MAX Titanium X 1.5 TDCI Start/Stop, £23,395 (£25,220 as tested, with paint, parking sensors, DAB radio, blind spot detection and keyless entry with power tailgate)

Power: 120 hp (@ 3,600 rpm), torque: 270 Nm (@ 1,750-2,500 rpm), emissions: 105g/km CO2 (band B), 0-62 mph: 11.3 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●●





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