Ford B-MAX 1.6 TDCI Titanium

It’s pricier than the C3, so are the innovative sliding doors and better handling worth the extra?

The B-MAX isn’t perfect, but pillarless doors give it a unique selling point that will appeal to young families. A high-quality interior and delightful chassis make it easier to live with and more fun to drive than the Citroen, while an efficient engine range means it’ll be cheap to run. It’s pricey to buy, however, so make sure you haggle for a discount.

The new Ford B-MAX made such a splash when it arrived that we pitted it against not one but three rivals in a previous road test. Even though it narrowly lost out to the bigger Renault Scenic, we were won over by its clever design and very entertaining driving experience. So how does it shape up against the Citroen C3 Picasso?

This pair certainly look different. The Ford’s sleeker styling is a direct nod to its supermini origins and it sits lower down than the boxy Citroen. Even though they’re almost the same overall length, the C3 has a longer wheelbase, and some buyers will prefer its daring styling cues to the B-MAX’s more conservative looks.

Still, the Titanium model comes with smart 16-inch alloys and neatly integrated foglights. Plus, its interior feels slightly more upmarket than the Citroen’s. The classy Sony stereo and metallic climate controls bring a touch of quality that the cheaper rival lacks, while gadgets like DAB digital radio and Ford’s SYNC Bluetooth come as standard.

Sliding doors allow excellent access to the rear, so fitting child seats is easy, even though the B-MAX lacks the C3’s sliding and reclining rear seats. Folding the rear seats is simple, however, and the 1,386-litre boot is flat and well shaped. Plus, the front passenger seat folds down to accommodate longer items and the lack of a sunroof means taller passengers have more headroom, too.

There’s not much to choose between the two for practicality, then, but there was a clear winner on track. The B-MAX is less powerful than the C3 Picasso and its five-speed box is tailored for fuel economy, so our low-mileage car felt sluggish in our acceleration tests. It took 13.2 seconds to go from 0-60mph, while in-gear times were also unimpressive – at 6.6 seconds, the Ford was over two seconds slower than the Citroen from 30-50mph in third.

Yet these figures don’t tell the whole story, as the B-MAX is brilliant on the public road. Precise and well weighted steering combines with a smooth ride to make it a pleasant drive around town, while better sound insulation gives greater refinement on the motorway.All owners will prefer the Ford’s perfectly weighted controls, while keen drivers will appreciate the extra involvement. And family buyers will like the extra airbags, which helped the car earn a five-star crash safety rating.

However, the B-MAX is pricier than the top-spec C3, and while it should be cheaper to run, we returned a disappointing 41.7mpg. So can the superior dynamics, upmarket interior and clever sliding doors give it the edge here?

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