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Ford Grand C-MAX

Our favourite choice in this sector is a very strong proposition

The Ford Grand C-MAX comes into this contest full of confidence. In its debut group test last December, it scored a maiden victory – and the blue oval will be expecting a repeat performance here. 

The passing of time has done little to soften the impact of the seven-seater’s ungainly styling. 

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It looks smart enough from the front, but things start to go awry further back. Packaging the sliding doors and rails has obviously been a challenge for Ford’s design team, because the Grand C-MAX is plain ugly from the rear. Even our Titanium model’s optional Appearance Pack (£275), with silver roof rails and privacy glass, can’t disguise its bloated tail. 

The good news is that most people spend more time in their cars than looking at them – and the C-MAX has by far the most appealing cabin in this test. 

Classy instruments and trim materials, as well as more substantial switchgear, give it a high-quality feel. Leather is a costly £2,000 option (and includes a panoramic roof and xenon lights), but Titanium spec has climate and cruise control, rear parking sensors, a premium stereo and automatic lights and wipers. 

Finish playing with all the toys, and you’ll notice the seating layout bears a striking similarity to the 2+2+2 set-up of the Mazda, with a seventh chair folding out from the base of the driver’s side seat in the second row.

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There’s no lift-out table in the other side, as you get in the 5, but some unique touches further back mark it out. For instance, magnetised panels attached to the rearmost seatbacks fold out when the seats are stowed to provide a continuous and level floor. The amount of space on offer here is par for the course but, as with all of these cars, luggage capacity in seven-seat mode is small.

Up front, the driving position is brilliant, with more reach adjustment on the steering column than you get in either rival. And this attention to detail extends to the driving experience, as the Ford is the class leader from behind the wheel. 

On paper, performance from its 1.6-litre diesel trails the 5 and Verso. But the stats tell only half the story, as the C-MAX never feels sluggish and its smooth- revving oil-burner is quieter 

than the Toyota’s 2.0-litre unit. 

Tall ratios hit in-gear pace in fifth and sixth, but pay dividends in terms of refinement. On the motorway, the Ford is the most relaxing choice. Its well judged suspension absorbs bumps, and wind and road noise is minimal. 

On twistier roads, the Grand C-MAX really comes into its own, with prodigious front-end grip and tight body control. Precise and well weighted steering, a slick gearshift and the most effective brakes on test round off a strong dynamic package.

Details

Chart position: 1
WHY: New seven-seater C-MAX saw off the latest VW Touran and Peugeot 5008 back in Issue 1,144. Versatile, high-quality cabin and strong driver appeal make it difficult to beat.

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