Ford B-Max 1.0T Titanium 120PS EcoBoost Start/Stop
Car review: JOHN GRIFFITHS
What is it?
A highly innovative and exceptionally versatile “B” sector multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), the full sales potential of which even Ford, its creator, is unsure about.
Ford claims “premium” sector style, build quality and driving dynamics as among the most alluring attributes of the B-Max, the smallest of Ford’s three ‘people carriers’ and based on the platform of the UK’s best-selling car, the Fiesta.
But claims of even such worthy characteristics are overshadowed by the B-Max’s unchallengeable ace in the hole: no vehicle on the road provides remotely similar ease of access.
The rear doors slide (along unobtrusive rails) like Citroen’s Multispace Berlingo. The front doors hinge conventionally. But they open to reveal, uniquely, no central ‘B’ pillar – just a 1.5metre long unobstructed opening which is twice the length of any perceived rival’s and longer, too, than on any luxury limousine .
Unrivalled interior space access
This has been achieved by making the leading and trailing edges of the doors themselves engineering structures which interlock , forming their own B-pillar, when they close. The result: virtually unrestricted loading from nearside, offside or rear. And the interior space icing on the cake: all seats except the driver’s fold flat, using a simple “one-hand, one-motion” mechanism, to form a van-like load platform capable of swallowing loads up to 2.34 metres long within the load area of the B-Max.
Debut for new connectivity system called SYNC
Not least, Ford has also chosen the B-Max for the European debut of “SYNC” – what it otherwise describes as its voice-activated device integration and connectivity system. Put more simply, it connects mobile phones and music players by Bluetooth or USB, makes and receives phone calls, reads out text messages and operates various other systems all by voice command, as well as sending an automatic distress call to emergency services if occupants are incapacitated by a collision with the scenery.
Business users – expected by Ford to account for around 35 per cent of sales – are likely to take particular interest in the engines on offer; notably the 1 litre, three-cylinder petrol “EcoBoost” units which, with 99bhp or 118bhp on tap, scoot the B-Max along with the vigour of a 1.6; earned the industry title of 2012 ‘engine of the year’ along withy BCM’s company car of the year title, and which already account for 30 per cent of sales in the only other car in which so far it has been fitted, the “C” sector Focus.