Ford Grand C-MAX (2011-2019) review
Practicality and decent driving characteristics make the Ford Grand C-MAX an appealing choice
The Ford Grand C-MAX 7-seater is a bigger version of the regular C-MAX MPV and, as you might expect, it rivals other mid-size family people carriers with ‘grand’ in their name such as the Renault Grand Scenic and Citroen Grand C4 Picasso. Other rivals in its sector include the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, the Kia Carens, Toyota Verso and the Volkswagen Touran.
The Grand C-MAX received a mid-life facelift in 2015, and still looks pretty fresh if a little uninspired on the outside. Inside, the update brought a noticeable step up in quality and a dash layout that mimics the one in the latest Focus hatchback. The model range is familiar Ford too, with a choice of Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X trim levels. All of them are decently equipped, with even the Zetec getting 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning and a DAB radio. Top end models get Ford’s latest SYNC2 infotainment set-up, as well as desirable features like a panoramic roof and Xenon headlamps.
Looking at the Grand C-MAX dimensions, you’ll see it’s a little more compact than the Ford S-MAX, and arguably a little less stylish. But it’s on the price lists at around £3,500 under the cost of an S-MAX, which is of course likely be the main attraction for anyone considering a Grand C-MAX deal at their local Ford dealer.
However, there’s a lot to like about the Grand C-Max apart from that 7-seat cabin and its price. The interior is highly practical, and the car is fun to drive too – much more so than the VW Touran, for example. Throw in a range of efficient diesel and petrol engine options, and the Grand C-MAX appeals to the head as well as the heart.
Unlike the smaller 5-seat C-MAX, which is offered with a 1.6-litre petrol entry model, the Grand C-MAX only comes with the more powerful EcoBoost petrol and TDCi diesel options. We like the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel the most, as its huge torque – 400Nm – makes driving the vehicle fully-laden a breeze. Whichever engine you choose though, performance and economy will be respectable.
As the name suggests, the Ford Grand C-MAX is a bigger, more practical version of the standard C-MAX MPV. Stacking up alongside cars like the Renault Grand Scenic and Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, the spacious Ford gets seven seats and a range of economical petrol and diesel engines.
The Grand C-MAX sits just below the brand’s larger and more stylish S-MAX, costing around £3,500 less. You still get seven-seats and a super practical interior, as well as Ford’s trademark driving experience. It’s unquestionably more fun than a Volkswagen Touran – making this a family car you can buy with your heart and your head.
Unlike the five-seat C-MAX, which is available with an entry-level 1.6-litre petrol engine, Grand C-MAX buyers are limited to EcoBost petrol and TDCi diesel units. That’s no bad thing though, as no matter which you go for, all offer surprising performance and decent running costs. The 148bhp 2.0-litre TDCi is the pick of the range if you regularly carry seven passengers thanks to its 400Nm of torque.
Despite a mid-life facelift in 2015, the trim options remain the same. That means a choice of Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X models, with all cars boasting 16-inch alloys, air con and DAB radio. Top spec versions gets the SYNC2 infotainment system, panoramic sunroof and xenon headlamps.
Engines, performance and drive
The Ford Grand C-MAX is softer than the five-seat C-MAX, but it still puts a smile on your face in the way few MPVs can. It’s agile and has great steering – its slightly more compliant ride lending it a more grown-up, but still enjoyable, demeanour.
The engine line-up is impressive, too. Diesels include a smooth and punchy 118bhp 1.5-litre diesel, although we’d go for the faster 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, which will cope better when the Grand C-MAX is fully laden. As of 2015, Ford dropped the less economical 1.6-litre TDCI.
If you fancy a petrol, there’s a pair of 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engines. Perhaps surprisingly, they seem more than capable of pulling the Grand C-MAX around, although it will struggle wiith a full complement of passengers. If you spend a lot of time with all seven seats in use, we’d go for the more powerful 123bhp version – or better still, one of the frugal diesels mentioned above.
Standard transmission is a six-speed manual, while Ford’s smooth Powershift dual-clutch automatic is an expensive option.
MPG, CO2 and Running Costs
Like its standard C-MAX brother, the Grand C-MAX is a very frugal MPV, thanks to Ford’s excellent range of efficient petrol and diesel engines.
Cheapest to run is the 1.5 TDCi which emits just 113g/km of CO2 and returns 64mpg, making it slightly more expensive to run than its five-seat sibling. However, the punchier 2.0-litre diesel is much faster and still returns 61mpg with CO2 emissions of 119g/km.
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost is also impressive, but can't beat the diesel for economy or emissions. Both versions (99bhp and 123bhp) will do 54mpg. Road tax is only £30 per year, though.
Equipment levels are good – even entry-level Zetec models get alloy wheels, air-con, a DAB radio, rear parking sensors and Bluetooth. Options include automatic lights and wipers, cruise control, climate control and a hill-start assist system. There’s loads of innovative safety kit on the list, too.
Interior, design and technology
While the standard five-seat Ford C-MAX is a handsome machine, the same cannot be said of the Grand C-MAX. Despite a mid-life refresh in 2015, the seven-seat model looks a little ungainly thanks to its high roofline and longer wheelbase, while those sliding doors haven’t been particularly well integrated into the rear end of the car. At least it looks good at the front, with the familiar Ford family face.
As of 2015, all Titanium and Titanium X models boast the SYNC2 eight-inch touchscreen, giving the dashboard a much more intuitive layout. This, added to the other styling and practicality add-ons, makes it out spec of choice. The 17-inch alloys look great, while LED daytime running lights add a spot of class.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Is the Grand C-MAX a proper seven-seater? Well, you will be able to seat seven, but there’s only enough space in the final row for a couple of small children, and unlike rivals such as the Kia Carens and Toyota Verso, the middle seat of the second row is narrower than the two on either side.
If you want more space, you’re better off buying an S-MAX or Galaxy, although those sliding doors really do aid access in car parks. There’s also a neat ‘walk-through’ feature, where the small middle seat can fold away, allowing easy access to the final two seats.
As for luggage space, in seven-seat mode there is just 115 litres of room – barely enough for the weekly shop, but typical of any seven-seater with all the seats in place. Fold the third row and that expands to 448 litres – bigger than a Focus – while if you fold all of the seats flat, there’s 1,715 litres of space, although that's still behind the Renault Grand Scenic. As of 2015, all C-MAXs now come with a space saver spare wheel as standard.
The driving position is first class, with the raised height giving a commanding view. What's more, decent reach and rake of the steering wheel means finding a comfortable setup is easy.
Reliability and Safety
However, the Grand C-MAX is extremely safe, with a five-star maximum Euro NCAP crash safety rating and a whole host of airbags. Traction and stability control are standard and help to maximise grip, while options such as blind spot warning improve safety even further.