Accomplished as it is, the standard C-MAX simply won’t be big enough for some buyers. The new seven-seat Grand version is the answer. It bridges the gap to Ford’s full-size S-MAX and Galaxy MPVs, ensuring the firm has a people carrier to suit every need.
The extra space comes courtesy of a 140mm longer wheelbase and a 58mm higher roofline. Unfortunately, this increase has left its mark on the styling. While the proportions of the standard car look spot-on, in Grand form the smart lines
of the front combine with a slightly dumpy rear end.
Step inside, though, and it’s clear that Ford has thought hard about ensuring the Grand C-MAX suits the needs of family buyers. For starters, the sliding doors mean it’s easy to fit child seats in tight parking bays, while the seat layout is versatile and roomy.
Ford’s ‘walk-through’ seating concept sees the middle chair in the second row rotate under the right-hand seat cushion to make clear access to the third row.
In this 2/2/2 layout, children can get to the rear seats without disturbing the outboard chairs. Plus, with lots of space for every row, it gives the whole cabin a spacious feel. However, in full seven-seat mode, the middle chair is narrow, and there’s less shoulder room across the second row for three adults than in the Peugeot. Legroom in this row is better than either of its rivals, though, and the seats slide back and forth in a 60/40 split. A single lever tilts and slides the outer pair to make access easy to the third row, although you have to stretch your leg over the sliding door strut when you get back out.
The rearmost seats are less upright than the Touran’s and provide more legroom than the 5008’s, so they’re realistic for adults for short journeys, and children will be perfectly comfortable.
In fact, it’s hard to fault the C-MAX on practicality, as all the chairs fold with ease to give a flat load area. The other models offer more space in this configuration, but with five of the seats in place, the Ford’s boot is the biggest.
Up front, the Grand is identical to the standard C-MAX, so you get the same comfortable driving position. The attractively angled dash places the audio and climate controls close to hand, and the gearlever is mounted high up. We like the way the cabin wraps around the driver, making you feel immediately at home, plus all the switchgear feels first class.
Smart instruments, rubberised air vent rollers and blue LED lighting give the interior an upmarket ambience, and the materials used are better than in the VW.
Once on the move, all of the controls are perfectly weighted, and it’s immediately clear that the Grand C-MAX has lost none of the standard car’s dynamic ability. The steering is light but accurate, and offers lots of feedback. Body control
is excellent and grip levels consistent, while stability at speed is first class.
Find a twisty road, and the C-MAX delivers the kind of driving enjoyment you don’t expect from a people carrier. Crucially, this hasn’t come at the expense of comfort.
The chassis set-up is firm but well damped, so the C-MAX isn’t unsettled in the same way as the Peugeot, while it soaks up bumps better than the VW. The isolation of road and wind noise impresses, too, and at motorway speeds, refinement is first class.
Our five-seat C-MAX was short on torque, but the 2.0-litre diesel Grand model outperforms its competitors in this test. With improved responses at low revs, the Ford recorded faster in-gear times than the Touran and 5008, and sprinted from 0-60mph in 9.8 seconds – eight tenths of a second faster than the Touran. Power delivery is smooth, yet the throttle response is positive. Refinement is strong as well.
Add in the lowest list price on test, and Ford’s practical and great-to-drive newcomer is a hugely tempting choice.
Chart position: 1WHY: Grand C-MAX is the only model in this test with sliding rear doors. Will they prove decisive?