Ford Grand C-Max EcoBoost
Ford's seven-seater MPV gets a new petrol turbo engine, we see if it’s the range’s best buy
The EcoBoost adds to the Grand C-MAX’s array of talents, and its smooth delivery suits the car’s refined character perfectly. It can’t match the efficiency of the diesel, but the trade-off is a quieter and more entertaining driving experience. The seven-seat layout, sliding rear doors and impressive interior make this excellent family transport. Yet the fact that the EcoBoost turbo comes only in top-spec Titanium trim means it’s far from cheap.
The MPV world just got a big boost from Ford! The blue oval’s Grand C-MAX has already made a great impression on us with its flexible cabin and entertaining driving experience – so, how does the seven-seater add up with a more powerful petrol engine under the bonnet?
The turbocharged direct-injection 1.6-litre unit is part of Ford’s new EcoBoost range. It delivers the power output of a larger motor, but reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by around 20 per cent.
In the Grand C-MAX, it returns an impressive 40.9mpg. That’s still some way behind the 113bhp 1.6 TDCi model, which claims 57.7mpg and has the same £21,455 price tag in top-spec Titanium trim.
But the EcoBoost has the edge over the diesel with its smooth power delivery and high-revving ability. Turbo lag is minimal, too, and there’s plenty of low-end torque – useful when climbing hills with all seven seats filled. The car doesn’t feel racy, but there’s enough zest in the chassis – which shares its underpinnings with the new Focus – to make it good to drive.
The electric power-steering is crisp and responsive, while the gearshift is light and slick shifting. Yet the real surprise is the car’s refinement. We already knew the C-MAX blended a quiet and comfortable ride with excellent body control, but the EcoBoost unit virtually removes engine noise from the equation. On the motorway, set the cruise control and you’ll waft serenely to your destination.
Unfortunately, it’s available only in pricey Titanium trim. But the pay-off is all the kit you could need, such as climate control, MP3 connectivity and a panoramic roof. The C-MAX is full of quality materials, too, and clearly built to survive the rough and tumble of family life. You get a high, SUV-like seating position, towering over the distinctive, Fiesta-inspired dash. There are lots of buttons, but the multifunction steering wheel and screen between the dials mean that, once you’ve got the hang of the controls, you rarely need to take your eyes from the road or your hands off the wheel.
The real triumph, however, is the seven-seat layout – squeezed into a bodyshell that’s shorter than the Renault Grand Scenic. In the second row, you can fold the centre seat into the chair to its right to create a walkway to the back row, or simply free up more space for passengers. The middle row slides back and forth, and all the chairs fold to allow access to the rear two seats, which are cosy but can take adults for short-to-medium-length trips. With all seven seats occupied, boot space is very limited, but tug a handle with one hand and the third row instantly folds into the floor, leaving a flat and spacious load area. Those sliding doors make life much easier in car parks, and reveal a huge opening for piling in passengers and all their belongings. The only downside is the impact on the styling.
Factor in thinner pillars for better visibility, plus the higher, boxy design, and the Grand C-MAX simply isn’t as desirable as the smaller five-seat C-MAX. But when a car drives this well and offers such superb versatility, that’s a small price to pay.
Rival: Renault Grand Scenic Turbocharged petrol version of the Renault seven-seater lags behind the C-MAX in terms of power and fuel efficiency. But in plush Dynamique trim, the 1.4 TCe 130 is more than £1,000 cheaper.