Ford C-MAX review - Engines, performance and drive
The C-MAX is a great MPV to drive and has punchy but efficient diesel engines
If you’re looking for a family car that handles as well as most sporty models from other manufacturers, then the Ford C-MAX could be the car for you. The electrically assisted steering is as sharp as in any other Ford, which makes it surprisingly engaging. The damping also feels plush and controlled, softening potholes well but still giving lots of support and control in corners. Yet despite the firmer suspension set-up, it’s actually marginally more comfortable than a Renault Scenic or Citroen C4 Picasso, mainly because big bumps don’t thump through the suspension as much and upset the body.
The accurate steering is light enough around town, yet it’s sharp and precise at higher speeds, whether you’re cruising on the motorway or tackling winding country roads. The suspension blends the perfect compromise: it's pliant enough to soften big potholes, but delivers surprisingly engaging handling.
The grippy front-wheel-drive system and intelligent torque vectoring technology – which sends power to the wheel with most grip – provide tonnes of confidence on the road. The only downside is the firm ride – it’s firmer than a Renault Scenic but it’s not unreasonably harsh over bumps.
The two 1.0 EcoBoost models provide plenty of shove, but if you regularly carry a full set of passengers, then the more powerful 1.5 petrol and diesel engines might be a better option for you.
Car group tests
- Ford C-MAX vs Citroen C4 Picasso
- Ford C-MAX 2.0 TDCi Titanium X review
- Ford C-MAX Titanium review
- Ford Grand C-MAX
Used car tests
Our pick of the range is the entry-level 118bhp 1.5 TDCi diesel, offering a decent amount of power but with the prospect of more than 67mpg. If speed is key, though, Ford did offer a more powerful 2.0 TDCi that offers a decent slug of torque, and feels much more capable with five people on board. The six-speed manual gearbox is fast and precise, while a twin-clutch Powershift automatic gearbox is also available.
Whichever model you choose, Ford also added thicker glass as part of the facelift, as well as more sound deadening and revised engine mounts to tune out unwanted vibration and noise. As a result, the C-MAX is more refined than the newer Renault Scenic.
If you're only going to be making shorter journeys the small 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine will be ideal. It packs a decent punch for such a small capacity engine and best of all it will return over 50mpg as long as you don't have a heavy foot.
We'd recommend avoiding older cars with the 1.6-litre petrol engine. It's slow, noisy and because it isn't turbocharged it has to be worked a lot harder to make any progress. As a result, fuel economy won't be great.
Much better is Ford's more recent 1.5 EcoBoost 150, which has 148bhp and a six-speed PowerShift auto as standard. It delivers excellent pulling power, although it's not the most efficient engine and gearbox combination around.
In this review
- 1Ford C-MAX reviewThe Ford C-MAX is a five-seat MPV that feels like a hatch to drive and has decent diesel engines
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingThe 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