Ford B-MAX 1.0T

4 Sep, 2012 10:15am Steve Fowler

How does the tiny 999cc engine perform in the impressive new Ford B-MAX mini-MPV?

Verdict

5
The pick of the B-MAX range – as long as the numbers work out for you. This little engine comes with a big price, as it’s only available in Titanium trim, but that shouldn’t put you off. You can get a 99bhp version for two grand less, but we like the pizzazz of the 118bhp engine with the luxury and style of Titanium specification. This is one clever family car.

It should be a match made in heaven: Ford’s brilliant three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine under the bonnet of the equally brilliant B-MAX MPV. Job done?

Let’s just take a minute to recap on the B-MAX. It is Ford’s rival to the likes of the Honda Jazz and Vauxhall Meriva and we gave it a rare five-star rating in our first test drive of the 1.6-litre diesel model.

It’s difficult to talk about the B-MAX without mentioning the doors. The fronts open normally– as do the rears, if you consider sliding rear doors as normal. (In a car this size, they’re exceptional.) Yet it’s what’s in between them (or not) that really sets the B-MAX apart in the mini-MPV class.

Open both side doors together and you’re faced with one huge, gaping hole. There’s no regular B-pillar connecting the floor with the roof and giving the doors something to cling on to. All that’s there is empty space, which makes getting in and out of the front or back a complete and utter doddle. Ford calls it Easy Access – and it is.

Why hasn’t anyone else thought of it? Because it’s quite complex and probably quite costly, too. Ford has put much of the strengthening from the B-pillar into the front and back doors, which are then joined to the bodyshell by some industrial-strength catches.

There are no worries about safety (the B-MAX has received the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating) and no concerns about heavy doors, either – they open smoothly without much effort.

Just as innovative is that little petrol engine. With 118bhp, it’s more akin to a punchy 1.6-litre than something with three cylinders and 999cc. It’s quiet at idle and while cruising, then makes a lovely noise when you accelerate, which it does well.

It’s efficient, too, claiming an average of 57.7mpg and emitting just 114g/km of CO2. Oddly, it’s only got a five-speed box, but even that has a lovely easy shift.

More pluses include the ride and handling, which prove that comfort and fun can be happy bedfellows. The light engine makes the car feel more alert than the heavier diesel, too.

The B-MAX also sees the debut of SYNC, Ford’s clever infotainment system with voice control and text reading. Plus, there’s Active City Stop to help prevent nose-to-tail shunts, and other big-car features.

And in spite of being based on the Ford Fiesta, the B-MAX feels big, with lots of head and legroom all round, plus a decent-sized boot.

Disqus - noscript

You asked "Why hasn’t anyone else thought of it?"
They have. Nissan's 1st generation Prairie from 1981 to 1988 offered a similar door layout.
The difference is that without the benefit modern high-strength steels and computer analysis and simulations the Prairie's body lacked the strength and stiffness of its more conventional contemporaries, and increasing safety expectations in the late 1980s and early 1990s meant the 2nd generation car gained a B-pillar.

Superb engineering, great design and style, fantastic value. Situation normal with a Ford. Keep it up lads.

"we gave it a rare five-star rating in our first test drive"
Your right, that is rare.. it doesn't have a VW badge on the front!

The lack of B pillar is an interesting feature and might suit a car like this but the weight from the door structure must be more than a simple fixed connection. I guess the decision would go in favour of lower kerbweight for most model types. I presume you also need a sliding rear door to gain enough strength which would limit its use even more?

Is it not possible to buy the 100bhp version and get it chipped to 120bhp... it'd save £2k!

Key specs

  • Price: £18,195
  • Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl, 118bhp
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 11.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 117mph
  • Economy/CO2: 57.7mpg/114g/km
  • Equipment: 16-inch alloys, SYNC voice control for Bluetooth and iPod, climate control, DAB radio, automatic headlamps and wipers
  • On sale: Now
AEX 1334
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