The Fiesta-based car – which replaces the much-criticised, slow-selling Fusion – offers style and practicality in a compact package. It will slot into the range below the C-MAX, which will be available with five and seven seats when the next generation version goes on sale in a couple of years’ time. But the B-MAX will take Ford into the rapidly expanding supermini-MPV class.
While the Fusion could never rival the Vauxhall Meriva and Renault Modus, its replacement will have a lot more going for it. And, as we revealed in Issue 1,035, it’s already been given the green light. Production will start at Ford’s recently acquired factory in Romania in 2010.
Yet it faces some very stiff competition. The forthcoming Meriva replacement will be sleek and versatile – so the B-MAX has to be good.As you can see from our pictures, the fresh-faced machine certainly has style. The shape takes much of its inspiration from the stunning new Fiesta. A taller roofline has been added to improve headroom and boot space, but the B-MAX still looks great.
Huge, bold headlights, neat tail-lamps and an eye-catching rising waistline add visual appeal, as do the chunky wheelarches and athletic stance. The newcomer will sit on a slightly longer wheelbase than the Fiesta’s, and although the supermini has been criticised for being short on space, the same can’t be said of the B-MAX. There will be plenty of legroom in the rear and accommodation for at least two tall adults. |
Versatility will be high on the agenda. A development of the C-MAX’s sliding seats is likely, so occupants can vary boot space and passenger legroom. Up front, the cabin’s design and layout will be inspired by the Fiesta, where the emphasis is on quality. And the B-MAX is also likely to get a BMW iDrive-style control system, scheduled to debut first on the new C-MAX. With agile handling, sharp steering and a fine ride, the B-MAX will be great to drive, too.
But the best news comes under the bonnet. We revealed in Issue 1,037 that Ford plans to equip its models with a fresh range of small-capacity, direct-injection, turbo petrol engines. As a result, the B-MAX is expected to use 1.0-litre units with outputs ranging from 89bhp to 108bhp, while there is even scope for a 148bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine.
Diesel fans will be able to specify 1.6-litre TDCi units developing 89bhp and 108bhp. The oil-burner is also set to form the basis of a green Econetic version, offering ultra-low CO2 emissions. Production of the B-MAX is set to start at the Craiova plant in 2010. Ford has said it plans to build 100,000 models in the first year, but the factory has the capacity to increase output if sales demand it.
There’s a fight brewing in the supermini-MPV sector. As with Ford, Vauxhall is producinga stylish contender.
The next-generation Meriva is set to be a hit, with details such as its rear-hinged back doors.
Although the Mazda RX-8 and MINI Clubman already have similar set-ups, the Vauxhall’s FlexDoors will be unique, as the front and rear doors can be opened independently. Factor in good looks, as well as a chassis and engines shared with the current Corsa, and the Meriva will be a worthy rival for the B-MAX from launch early next year.