B-MAX is Ford’s new small “multi-activity vehicle” based on the Fiesta hatchback. It has a loftier body and sliding rear doors but is only slightly longer, so it has a larger capacity but is just as easy to park.
Unusually, though not uniquely, there are no central roof supports. The advantage (to some) is easier entry and exit from the rear seats because you do not have to walk round the door edge. Then there is the maximum side aperture 5ft wide (1.5m), which is twice that of a Fiesta. This gaping hole makes loading bulky items possible through the sides. The front passenger seat folds flat, too, and you can carry a load 92 inches long, which is 2.34 metres. Disadvantages? The re-engineering adds £3,000 to the price of a Fiesta, which is quite a shock, but so far customers are buying into the B-MAX in thousands. Another glitch is that the vertical end of the open rear door masks part of the back seat so you enter at a different angle and can’t swivel in as comfortably. Then there are the mechanical latches at the base of the back doors which are snag risks on trousers and ankles. However, parents will find it easier to pop a young child into a rear seat, avoiding the stretching and bending often necessary with a small car.
The entry price looks tempting – £12,995 for the 47mpg 1.4 litre Studio entry model – which has most of the mod cons expected such as powered mirrors and windows. You’d pay £700 for air conditioning. It has steel wheels and you can upgrade to alloys but you may then be just as well to start looking at the next cheapest model, the 1.4 Zetec, which includes alloys, enhanced trim, heated windscreen, daylight running lights, air conditioning and brighter headlamps.
At this stage the price leaps with an energetic bound to £15,600 – at which stage I am inclined to yell “Hold your horses”. There is more, and the nicest engines are the one-litre three cylinder Ecoboost petrol turbos. The 55mpg 100ps version is more powerful, smoother and more economical than the older 1.4 but in Zetec trim is £16,195.
This is as high as I’d go for a B-Max. Costlier still are the 20ps Ecoboost, the 1.5 and 1.6 litre diesels and the 1.6 petrol automatic. The best economy comes from the 1.6 diesel, at 60mpg and 104g/km. The newly derived 1.5-litre version is almost as economical. On the move the chubby hold-all is sweet enough but it rolls more than a Fiesta, being higher and heavier. «