Ford Grand C-MAX review
The seven-seat Ford Grand C-MAX brings extra practicality without sacrificing a decent drive
Like Renault with its Scenic and Grand Scenic line-up, the Ford C-MAX range is split into two distinct models – with the Grand C-MAX answering one of the biggest criticisms of the previous car by offering seven seats and sliding doors. It gets a strong line-up of EcoBoost turbo petrols and diesels, a quality cabin and driver-pleasing handling.
Our choice: Grand C-MAX 2.0 TDCI (138) Zetec
While the standard five-seat Ford C-MAX is a handsome machine, the same cannot be said of the Grand C-MAX. It looks a little ungainly thanks to its high roofline and longer wheelbase, while those sliding doors haven’t been particularly well integrated into the rear end of the car. At least it looks good at the front, with the familiar Ford family face. The new dashboard has a quality feel with its blue backlighting and piano black centre console, even if it's busy with a confusing number of tiny buttons.
The Ford Grand C-MAX is softer than the five-seat C-MAX, but it still puts a smile on your face in the way few MPVs can. It’s agile and has great steering – its slightly more compliant ride lending it a more grown-up, but still enjoyable, demeanour. The engine line-up is impressive, too. Diesels include a smooth and punchy 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel, although we’d go for the faster 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel, which will cope better when the Grand C-MAX is fully laden. If you fancy a petrol, there’s a 148bhp 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbo which is smooth and powerful, and does 0-60mph in less than 10 seconds, while the 1.0-litre three-cylinder is suprisingly capable of pulling the Grand C-MAX around, although it will struggle wiith a full complement of passengers. Standard transmission is a six-speed manual, while Ford’s smooth Powershift dual-clutch automatic is an expensive option.
The Ford C-MAX came 42nd in our 2013 Driver Power survey, and while that's better than the previous model, it's some way behind the Renault Scenic, which came fourth. However, the Grand C-MAX is extremely safe, with a five-star maximum Euro NCAP crash safety rating and a whole host of airbags. Traction and stability control are standard and help to maximise grip, while options such as blind spot warning improve safety even further.
Is the Grand C-MAX a proper seven-seater? Well, you will be able to seat seven, but there’s only enough space in the final row for a couple of small children, and unlike rivals such as the Kia Carnes and Toyota Verso, the middle seat of the second row is narrower than the two on either side. If you want more space, you’re better off buying an S-MAX, although those sliding doors really do aid access in car parks. There’s also a neat ‘walk-through’ feature, where the small middle seat can fold away, allowing easy access to the final two seats. As for luggage space, in seven-seat mode there is just 115 litres of room – barely enough for the weekly shop, but typical of any seven-seater with all the seats in place. Fold the third row and that expands to 432 litres – bigger than a Focus – while if you fold all of the seats flat, there’s 1,732 litres of space, although that's still behind the Renault Grand Scenic. The driving position is first class, with the raised height giving a commanding view. What's more, decent reach and rake of the steering wheel means finding a comfortable setup is easy.
Like its standard C-MAX brother, the Grand C-MAX is a very frugal MPV, thanks to Ford’s excellent range of efficient petrol and diesel engines. Cheapest to run is the 1.6 TDCi which emits just 129g/km of CO2 and returns 57.7mpg, making it slightly more expensive to run than its five-seat sibling. However, the punchier 2.0-litre diesel is much faster and still returns 53.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 139g/km. The 1.6-litre EcoBoost is more also impressive, but can't beat the diesel for economy or emissions, posting 40.9mpg and 159g/km. Equipment levels are good – even entry-level Zetec models get alloy wheels, air-con, a DAB radio, rear parking sensors and Bluetooth. Options include automatic lights and wipers, cruise control, climate control and a hill-start assist system.