It may only be four metres long, 1,7 m wide and 1,6 m high, but Ford has created a compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) that offers some serious practicality.
Okay, Ford calls the B-MAX a “premium compact Multi-Activity Vehicle (MAV)” but, the fact remains, it’s space, practicality and versatility in a compact package that we’re after here…
In setting out to achieve this goal, Ford has used the Fiesta as a base to create the B-MAX – something you’ll pick up on immediately, given its “oversized-Fiesta” appearance. With the bold, high-gloss and chrome radiator grille of out Titanium-spec car, it’s not too odd-looking … though the 15-inch alloy wheels, to be honest, look far too small for the car.
None of this matters much, though, when you consider the B-MAX’s practicality party piece – its dual sliding rear doors. The absence of a fixed, dividing B-pillar means that, with the sliding doors, a full 1,5-m wide aperture allows for unhindered access to the car’s interior.
Whether loading kids, friends on a night out, or that large and bulky piece of designer furniture (the rear and front passenger seats folds flat), this practicality is a boon. There are, in fact, seven different seat configurations and a double-floor boot. However you set it up, interior space is quite good.
But I digress, back to those doors. In removing the B-pillar, Ford has ensured that the B-MAX offers the same level of crash protection as any “conventionally doored” car. It has engineered high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel into 58 percent of the body and door structure; especially so in key load-bearing areas of the doors so as to safely absorb the energy created in a side impact.
The vehicle’s extra bulk is obvious in its handling characteristics, though. While its Fiesta cousin is nimble, the B-MAX feels rather top heavy. It’s not at all wayward, though, and will probably not matter much to the typical B-MAX owner.
What they might not like, however, is the surprisingly harsh ride; the B-MAX tends to “crash” over road imperfections – a characteristic made worse by the hard (but heated) leather seats.
You could probably forgive this when you open the taps of Ford’s award-winning 1,0-litre EcoBoost engine. The only engine option in the B-MAX, this turbocharged three-cylinder produces an impressive 92 kW and 170 Nm. What a little star this engine is. It never misses a beat and provides easy momentum, even before the turbo hits full boost. The B-MAX feels nippy through its five gears and that characteristic, eager three-cylinder growl is always smile-inducing.
It’s frugal, too – Ford claims it’ll consume unleaded at just 4,9 l/100 km on the combined cycle, and 6,0 in town. I got relatively close, averaging around 7,5.
Any Ford with Titanium in its name is going to be well-equipped. The B-MAX is no exception. Owners enjoy luxuries such as the panoramic glass roof, park-distance control with reversing camera, full on-board computer, keyless entry and start, electronic climate control, cruise control and rear privacy glass. A decent, eight-speaker Sony sound system links into Ford’s Sync infotainment system, offering Bluetooth connectivity and voice command as well as a 4,2-inch TFT colour screen.
In terms of safety, the B-MAX comes well-equipped in any level of spec. Dual front, side, curtain and driver knee airbags are fitted; as are anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assist; hill launch control, electronic stability programme and traction control.
With the B-MAX, Ford has created an MPV – sorry, MAV – that has very few rivals. The similar Opel Meriva is one to consider (it, too, has trick rear doors, but maintains the B-pillar), as is Ford’s own Tourneo Connect… This accomplished people mover rides a whole lot better than the B-MAX, offers as much practicality (if not more, due to its panel-van roots) and a similar range of engines, spec and quality.
Nonetheless, it is the B-MAX’s style that will appeal to the private buyer when compared to the Tourneo Connect. It’s price of R274 900 will do too. This includes a four-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, four-year/60 000 km service plan, three-year/unlimited kilometre roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited kilometre corrosion warranty.