Ford C-MAX review

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

The Ford C-MAX is a stylish five-seat MPV offering a great drive, practical interior and decent build quality

For: 
Fun to drive, stylish looks, flexible and well-built interior
Against: 
Firm ride, middle seat is cramped, expensive options

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The Ford C-MAX is based on the popular Focus family hatch, which stands it in good stead to be an enjoyable MPV to drive. It bridges the gap between the smaller B-MAX and the seven-seat S-MAX - although a seven-seat Grand C-MAX is also available.

The car’s direct rivals come in the form of the Renault Scenic, VW Golf SV and Citroen C4 Picasso. The Ford is a stylish choice, with a flexible interior, which feels solidly put together.

In terms of engines, there's plenty to choose from. Kicking off the range is a 1.6-litre petrol unit with 103bhp. The highlights, though, are Ford's award-winning EcoBoost engines. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit is available in 99bhp and 123bhp outputs, and the 1.6-litre EcoBoost can be bought in 148bhp and 180bhp forms.

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On the diesel front, a 1.6 TDCi with 113bhp is available, and a 2.0 TDCi in 138bhp and 161bhp outputs - so there's sure to be something for every buyer. Stop-start technology is available across the range, and Ford's six-speed Powershift automatic gearbox can be specced on the 2.0 TDCi diesels.

Trim levels are easy to choose from, kicking off with the C-MAX Zetec. This comes fairly well-equipped, but if you want more gadgets then Titanium models offer equipment like cruise control climate control, while Titanium X models add luxuries like part leather seats.

The C-MAX is a competent 5-seat MPV with an enjoyable drive and flexible interior. It’s a particularly good choice for those unwilling to sacrifice driving dynamics for MPV practicality but options can get expensive and the trade-off for a fun drive is a slightly firm ride. 

Our choice: C-MAX 1.6 TDCI Zetec

Styling

4

The C-MAX disguises its MPV proportions well, with a design taking inspiration from the Iosis MAX concept from the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. It won't set pulses racing, but swept-back headlights, sculpted body panels and a swooping roofline help make the C-MAX one of the more handsome choices in the MPV segment.

The interior will be familiar to anyone who's driven a Focus, with the same piano-black centre console, smart dials and high-quality materials. Compared to rivals, the C-MAX's interior looks cluttered and button-heavy but it remains a stylish place to be.

Entry-level Zetec cars come with 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, heated door mirrors, air-con and a DAB radio. Titanium cars get 17-inch alloys, automatic lights and wipers, climate control, a start button and cruise control, while range-topping Titanium X cars add luxuries like bi-xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, part-leather seats, heated front seats and a new design of 17-inch alloy wheels.

Options include a Convenience Pack that includes the manufacturer’s excellent Park Assist system and parking sensors, as well as a Driver Assistance Pack that adds hi-tech safety kit such as Active City Stop, Lane Keeping Alert and blind-spot monitoring.

Driving

4.2

If you’re looking for a family car that handles as well as most sporty models from other manufacturers, then the Ford C-MAX could be the car for you.

The accurate steering is light enough around town, yet it’s sharp and precise at higher speeds, whether you’re cruising on the motorway or tackling winding country roads.

The grippy front-wheel-drive system and intelligent torque vectoring technology – which sends power to the wheel with most grip – provide tonnes of confidence on the road. The only downside is the firm ride – it’s firmer than a Scenic but it’s not unreasonably harsh over bumps.

Ford C-MAX rear tracking

The two 1.6 EcoBoost models provide plenty of shove, with 148bhp and 180bhp states of tune, while the 1.0 EcoBoost engines were added to the lineup in 2012.

Our pick of the range is the 1.6 TDCi diesel, as it can hit 62mph in 9.4 seconds, but still achieves 62.8mpg on the combined cycle. The six-speed manual gearbox is fast and precise, while a twin-clutch Powershift automatic gearbox is available on range-topping 2.0-litre TDCi models. 

Reliability

4

When it was tested in 2010, the C-MAX received a full five-star Euro NCAP crash rating. Thanks to safety systems such as traction control, electronic stability protection, brake assist and torque vectoring, the C-MAX scored 71 per cent in the safety assist category. It also scored an impressive 92 per cent in the adult occupant protection category.

Every C-MAX also gets driver, front passenger, side and curtain airbags, as well as Isofix child seat fixings. It ranked at an average 62nd place in this year's Driver Power survey, while Ford came a disappointing 25th out 33 in the manufacturer ratings. 

Practicality

4.1

Despite its relatively compact dimensions, the C-MAX is a very practical car. It has 471 litres of boot space – slightly more than the Renault Scenic’s 437 litres, but way down on the Citroen C4 Picasso's 537 litres. With the seats down, load space increases to 1,851 litres.

The C-MAX can also be ordered with a clever rear bench that splits 40/20/40, which allows you to fold the centre seat and slide the outer seats backwards and inwards to create a more spacious 2+2 layout.

Ford C-MAX interior

The downsides are that, in three-seat mode, shoulder room is tight in the middle, and although the seats tumble easily, they’re very heavy when you need to remove them. It’s also worth noting that no C-MAX comes with a spare wheel as standard. Opting for a spacesaver wheel will set you back an extra £95 (and means you do without the tyre repair kit).

Other notable options are the manufacturer’s Active Park Assist, which automatically parallel parks the car, and a Family Pack, which comes with a powered tailgate and rear sunblinds. The elevated driving position means visibility is excellent, while reach and rake steering makes getting comfy behind the wheel very easy.

Running Costs

3.8

With its range of efficient engines, running a C-MAX should prove fairly painless. The most efficient C-MAX in the range is the 1.6 TDCi diesel as it has an official fuel consumption figure of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 117g/km, making it free to tax for the first year of ownership.

It also falls into insurance group 16, which means premiums should be fairly average for the class. The tiny 1.0 EcoBoost model returns 55.4mpg and emits 117g/km of CO2, no matter which power output you go for, while the 1.6 EcoBoost manages average mpg of 45.6mpg and 144g/km of CO2.

Standard equipment levels are good, so it’s worth steering clear of the options list. It’s long and packed full of desirable kit, but opting for some of it will quickly push the price of your C-MAX sky high. Every C-MAX comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.

Last updated: 21 Aug, 2014
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