Ford C-MAX (2011-2019) review
The Ford C-MAX is a five-seat MPV that feels like a hatch to drive and has decent diesel engines
Ford has a strong history when it comes to producing MPVs which offer value for money along with a rewarding drive, and the C-MAX maintains that tradition. It's not as stylish as a Citroen C4 Picasso, or as spacious, but it is one of the best MPV's to drive. That won't be important to some, but being able to transport a family of five and still have some fun behind the wheel is a real bonus.
Elsewhere, the C-MAX is affordable to run and offers enough space inside for any growing family, although i lacks some of the practical touches that help its rivals to pull ahead. And if you need something bigger, you can always turn to the seven-seat Grand C-MAX instead. It's just a shame that in a world obsessed by SUVs that the C-MAX no longer has the desirability to make it attractive to buyers wanting practical family transport.
The Ford C-MAX (and 7 seater Grand C-MAX) sits in the middle of the Ford MPV range for sale in the UK. The smaller B-MAX is Fiesta-based, while the larger S-MAX and Galaxy are both Mondeo-based, so logically the C-MAX is based on the Focus. However, with the popularity of SUVs, sales in the MPV sector aren't what they used to be, and when this generation C-MAX reaches the end of production, it's unlikely to be replaced.
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That's a shame, because the C-MAX is one of the better cars in the class. It's good to drive, has plenty of useable space, and if you chose a Titanium model, there's a well equipped interior, too. These plus points help it hold ground against five-seat MPVs such as the Citroen C4 SpaceTourer, BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and Renault Scenic. The Grand C-MAX has rear seats that are better suited to occasional use, which mean it's more of a rival for the likes of the Kia Carens and VW Touran, rather than the larger Grand versions of the Citroen and Renault.
Choosing between standard and Grand versions of the C-MAX is more than just asking yourself if you need 7 seats, because the Grand model also comes with sliding rear doors, which improve access to the rear seats in tight spaces. Either way, you're looking at a premium of around £1,600 for the Grand C-MAX over the standard model.
Ford has offered 1.6 petrol and 1.6 TDCi and 2.0 TDCi diesels in the C-MAX in the past, but later versions feature either 1.0 or 1.5 EcoBoost petrols or Ford's 1.5 TDCi diesel. The 1.0 EcoBoost is Ford's three-cylinder turbo unit, which comes in 100PS and 125PS forms, but while these engines are torquier than the older 1.6 TiVCT petrol, they might struggle when there's a full complement of passengers and luggage on board. Both engines come with a six-speed manual to make the most of the power available.
The 1.5 EcoBoost four cylinder comes as a 150PS unit that has 148bhp, and this comes with a six-speed PowerShift auto as standard. It delivers good performance, but it's not that economical. Instead, we'd go for the 1.5 TDCi 120PS diesel. This has 118bhp and either a six-speed manual or six-speed auto. It has good mid-range performance and more agreeable fuel economy figures than the more powerful petrol 1.5. All cars are front-wheel drive.
A straightforward trim line-up is offered, with Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X variants offered. Every version comes with touchscreen infotainment, heated mirrors and a Quickclear heated windscreen. Keyless starting and cruise control are included on Titanium cars, while part-leather electric seats, panoramic glass and xenon lights are fitted to Titanium X cars. If you want more kit, then Ford offers option packs that bundle desirable extras together to give better value than selecting them individually.
Unfortunately, the decline in popularity of MPVs when compared to SUVs mean that car makers are channeling their expertise in the direction of 4x4s. As a result, Ford has already dropped the B-MAX, while the C-MAX is ending production in 2019, with no direct replacement. If you want a family Ford that's bigger than a Focus, then the Kuga is your next option. And if you want a seven-seat Ford MPV, then the van-based Tourneo Connect might have to fit the brief instead.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Ford C-MAX is a five-seat MPV that feels like a hatch to drive and has decent diesel engines
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe C-MAX is a great MPV to drive and has punchy but efficient diesel engines
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsIt's reasonably efficient and cheap to insure, so the C-MAX won't break the bank
- 4Interior, design and technologyGood amount of standard equipment, but the C-MAX is lacking in design flair inside and out
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceSpacious enough but rear passenger space can be tight if carrying a car full of people
- 6Reliability and SafetyBig and imposing with a raft of safety kit, but service costs are pricey