Ford B-MAX review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Ford B-MAX brings the verve of the best-selling Fiesta to the small MPV sector

For: 
Easy to get in and out of, very practical, great to drive
Against: 
Sluggish diesel, only one automatic, fiddly infotainment system

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The Ford B-MAX is a great small MPV alternative to the Nissan Note, Citroen C3 Picasso, Hyundai ix20, Kia Venga and Vauxhall Meriva thanks to its innovative styling, excellent performance and wide range of engines on offer. It could also be seen as an alternative to a practical supermini like the Honda Jazz.

Based on the Ford Fiesta, the Ford B-MAX is excellent to drive and is available in four specifications – the entry-level Studio, mid-range Zetec and the flagship Titanium and Titanium X. The Studio model is a bit thin on equipment, so we'd go for the Zetec as being a realistic place to start.

The Ford B-MAX also boasts an impressive range of engines, which includes two of Ford's excellent EcoBoost units, as well as a two additional petrol engines and two diesels.

Our choice of Ford B-MAX is the 1.0-litre EcoBoost Zetec - the 98bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine is easily up to the job of hauling the B-MAX around, and it returns 55.4mpg as well as 119g/km of CO2.
Every model of Ford B-MAX should be reasonably cheap to run, as each one gets regenerative braking and a gear-shift indicator.

With the B-MAX, Ford has taken out the B-pillar between the front and back doors, creating a huge 150cm-wide side door opening – meaning accessibility is great. The doors even slide open, so you can be that bit more adventurous when choosing a parking space.

Our choice: 1.0T Ecoboost 125 Zetec

Styling

4.2

Ford has been smart with the design of the B-MAX and has removed the structural pillars which usually split-up the front and back of the car.

Instead, Ford has integrated these pillars into the design of the doors themselves, and apart from door-runners in the rear wing panels, Ford hasn't compromised the styling of the B-MAX by using such a clever set-up.

The overall design of the Ford B-MAX echoes that of the larger C-MAX, with swooping headlights as well as wraparound rear lights. It's not as appealing to look at as the Ford Fiesta, but the B-MAX still has the edge over the Vauxhall Meriva and Nissan Note.

Ford offers the B-MAX in four specifications - entry-level Studio, mid-range Zetec and the flagship B-MAX Titanium and Titanium X models.

The entry-level Ford B-Max Studio cars are a bit Spartan, but Zetec versions get loads of kit and accessories, including Ford's My Key system (which lets you limit the volume of the radio or the car's top speed when the driver uses the spare key), 15-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, front fog lights and air-con.

Meanwhile, the Ford B-MAX Titanium gets things like 16-inch alloys, automatic headlights and wipers, heated seats, a start button, climate control and cruise control. Options include a City Pack, which includes parking sensors and power-folding door mirrors, while the Ford B-MAX Titanium X Pack gets part-leather seats, heated front seats and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Driving

4.2

The Ford B-MAX shares its underpinnings with the Ford Fiesta – this means it has a comfortable ride, and is great fun behind the wheel. While it has better handling than a Vauxhall Meriva or a Nissan Note, the extra height of the B-MAX does mean it tends to sometimes lean through bends.

Inside, the Ford B-MAX doesn't match the quality of the Volkswagen Polo supermini but it's still ahead of the Kia Venga and Hyundai ix20.

The Ford B-MAX is available with a wide range of engines. There are two 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines with either 123bhp or 98bhp, a four-cylinder 90-bhp petrol unit, plus a 1.6-litre petrol, which is fitted to B-MAX models with Ford's automatic Powershift transmission.

Ford B-MAX interior

For diesel Ford B-MAX buyers, there is a choice of either a 73bhp 1.5-litre or 93bhp 1.6-litre diesel powerplant.

Of all the engines that Ford offers on the B-MAX range, we'd opt for the award-winning three-cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit with 98bhp. The 1.6-litre diesel is cleaner still and great value, but while it really shifts once you get going, it does sound a bit harsh under acceleration.

We wouldn't recommend the Ford B-MAX with the 1.5-litre diesel engine – while it's cheaper to buy, its stats slow it's sluggish and no more economical than the larger 1.6-litre diesel B-MAX.

We also wouldn't suggest you opt for the automatic Ford B-MAX as it's paired with a 1.6-litre petrol engine which severely harms fuel economy. 

Reliability

4.2

The Ford B-MAX is one of the safest cars in its class thanks to a full five-star score in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. It scored 92 per cent for adult occupant protection, and 71 per cent in the safety assist category.

The scores are unsurprising though, as every Ford B-MAX model comes with electronic stability control and traction control fitted as standard, as well as driver, passenger, curtain, side and driver’s knee airbags. Clever safety tech includes brake lights that flash under heavy braking.

Ford, as a manufacturer, was mediocre in the 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey - it finished 25th out of a possible 32 places. The B-MAX, however, was too new to feature in the survey.

Practicality

4.4

Practicality is the trump card of the Ford B-MAX, and it's clearly been designed with this in mind.

The Ford B-MAX doesn't have a B-pillar, if you open both the hinged front and sliding rear doors, you're presented with a 1.5-metre opening. Tall adults can sit comfortably behind front passengers of a similar build, while fitting child seats is no problem at all

Folding the rear seats in the Ford B-MAX is simple and increases the boot size from 318 litres to 1,386 litres. However, this is far from class leading – it’s no better than most five-door hatchbacks and lags far behind rivals like the Kia Venga and Citroen C3 Picasso.

The boot in the Ford B-MAX is flat and well shaped, though, and it gets a false floor to hide valuables underneath or drop -own for maximum room.

Plus, the front passenger seat folds down to accommodate longer items.

Running Costs

4.4

The fuel sipping 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol EcoBoost powerplant found in the Ford B-MAX is an excellent engine.

The 123bhp version is one of the cleanest engines in its class thanks to 57.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 114g/km, while the smaller 98bhp variant returns 55.4mpg and emits just 119g/km. The 1.4-litre petrol engine is also relatively economical thanks to 47.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 139g/km.

The Ford B-MAX is also available with an automatic gearbox, but it's only offered with a 1.6-litre petrol engine, meaning it's relatively thirsty and returns 44.1mpg as well as 149g/km of CO2.

The 1.6-litre 93bhp TDCi diesel in the Ford B-MAX range manages an impressive 70.6mpg, plus emissions of 104g/km of CO2. The smaller 73bhp 1.5-litre TDCi diesel is almost as impressive thanks to 68.9mpg and a CO2 output of 109g/km.

Disqus - noscript

£19000 for the only Automatic version with a smaller boot than a Jazz, not as roomy as a Jazz, not as versitile, economical or reliable as a jazz. I think it is about time Auto Express got their priorities right in their reviews.

Looked in one today in detail and I can only say what an awful quality. The door handle feels loose and as if you are about to pull it off, the whole concept of getting in the back needs the brain to recalibrate. I personally didnt find it funky or easier at all just a bit of gimmic and to make matters worse, when you close the door it sounds like ford have used their commercial vehicle sliders! Awful really. The instrument cluster was nice, but the radio system is just down right confusing full stop and for 19K i really think someone is living in a dream world somewhere. Clearly a hit for the motobility customers, and I guess a good proportion of that dosh is therefore not paid by them, but for the average retail punter there are much better options out there. That said, the 1.0l engine is spot on, if not slightly rough sounding in first.

The back doors make for great accessibility, providing it isn't cold weather! Rear doors on mine do not close when it is less than 1centigrade! Headlamp clusters and wing mirrors break with the slightest touch. Absolute rubbish. Wish I had never signed up for it!

I love the photographers attempts to try and get a good angle of the B-max....there isn't one! It looks worse than a van...in fact a van would be a better choice. AE way of the mark by the looks of things...it makes you wonder how much influence some of the manufacturers have on these reviews?!

When will Ford put some style into their design?

First look, it looks eerily familiar. Second look, you know its a bloated Fiesta. Is that a good thing? Well, not necessarily.
I don't think many buyers need or fancy sliding doors and pillar-less doors. Compared with the competition, the engine line-up is not half bad though.

No good if you need to get a wheelchair in the boot, so that'd a good chunk of market gone to Vauxhall via Motability. Why on earth didn't Ford Listen to their Customers?

Fat chance of that happening while the AE Gestapo cream over loss making death trap car makers....

"Ford finished 25th out of 30th in our 2012 Driver Power manufacturer ratings survey, with customers finding a huge problem with the reliability of 700-plus Ford dealers." - And yet the car gets 4 and a bit for Reliability? Odd.

Last updated: 8 May, 2014
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