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How much? £20,195
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1560cc 16v turbodiesel 4cyl, 113bhp @ 3600rpm, 199lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 11.3sec 0-62mph, 114mph, 61.4mpg, 119g/km
How heavy / made of? 1390kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4380/1858/1626
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CAR's rating

Rated 4 out of 54

Handling

Rated 5 out of 55

Performance

Rated 3 out of 53

Usability

Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 4 out of 54

Readers' rating

Rated 3 out of 53

Ford C-Max 1.6 TDCI (2011) CAR review

By Ben Pulman

First Drives

04 April 2011 11:55

This is Ford’s second-generation C-Max, one of ten models Ford will spin off its new global C-platform – there’s a bigger Grand C-Max, three Focus models, plus hybrid and electric versions as well, and by 2012 it'll underpin 2m units annually.

It’s the new Grand C-Max that will take to name to North America too, and cater for the 60% of UK customers that Ford claims now want the option of six or seven seats, but it’s the smaller C-Max we’ve tried. Read on for CAR’s first drive review of the new Ford C-Max 1.6 TDCI.

So is the new Ford C-Max any good to drive?

Of course. With each successive generation of Focus, Ford seems to be moving further away from fun and towards refinement, but this really is a car you’ll enjoy driving. Never has the CAR office fought so hard for the keys of an MPV, and never has each member handed the fob back the next day accompanied by words like ‘excellent’ and ‘great’.

The new, all-electric steering saves fuel and isn’t as good as before, but once you’ve adjusted to the over-light first quarter of lock you’ll find a sharp and incisive system, free of any fuzzy interferences. Drivers coming from other MPVs really will have to recalibrate.

It flows so well too. Whether it’s fast A-road, bumpy B-road, or just flinging it through a roundabout, the C-Max always works in sync. It’s supple and comfortable to absorb surface imperfections, but controlled so you’re not bouncing or floating up and down. It’s also a quiet and refined and easy cruiser.

The one thing this C-Max isn’t is quick. It's got just 81bhp/tonne, and it’ll be even slower once it’s loaded up with your kids and all their clobber. You could go for Ford’s trick new Ecoboost engines (petrol units combining direct injection and turbocharging) but the diesel engines will always offer many more miles per gallon: we'd recommend the 2.0 TDCi for an £1000 if you can stretch to it.

Ford’s Torque Vectoring Control system is also standard across the C-Max range, and uses the car’s braking system to imitate the effect of a proper torque vectoring diff. Charge through a tight corner and the front inside wheel is braked, sending more engine torque to the outside wheel. Whether your average driver will ever feel the benefits or whether it’s necessary on a slow diesel MPV is questionable, but it’ll be great on the Focus ST.

What about inside the new Ford C-Max?

Let’s split this part in two, and start up front where mum and dad will sit. The driving position is pretty perfect, high enough to offer a decent view out above traffic, but low enough that you never feel perched atoo high. A big windscreen means lots of light and visibility, though the fat D-pillar creates a big blind spot.

Like the regular Focus there’s huge range of plastics, the best of which are top-notch squidgy affairs, while the worst are merely average. There’s a riot of shapes too, and after the simplicity of something like a Touran the C-Max initially intimidates. There are just too many small buttons that don’t feel different enough, so you’re forced to look down to find them, then look up to the small display screen atop the dash, and then re-focus on the road. Best to use the wheel mounted controls when you can, or leave your other half to control the radio.

And if you’re not a driver?

The back half of the C-Max is fairly conventional. There are two versions of the Ford’s Scenic rival, the C-Max we’ve tested here, and the Grand C-Max. The latter features a 140mm longer wheelbase, a 58mm higher roofline, sliding doors and seven seats so it’s ideal if you’ve got a big family.

The regular C-Max is simpler: there are conventional doors and just five seats, with the back row split 40/20/40 and able to fold flat. Ford’s Comfort system is an option, allowing the centre seat to be folded away and the outer seats to slide back and in for more room. Clever, but not much cleverer than a Focus Estate. From past experience Ford knows the C-Max sells to elderly couples who like the raised seating position; the Grand C-Max is the one for mothers and fathers whose kids have yet to flee the nest.

Verdict

There's is much to like here, but a Focus Estate will be just as capable and more fun to drive, and the Grand C-Max is a more flexible car for a big family. Buy a C-Max and you’ll get a great-to-drive MPV, but its problems come from within: Ford makes so many other great cars. 

>> Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know what you think of the new Ford C-Max

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BigBudgie

BigBudgie says

RE: Ford C-Max 1.6 TDCI (2011) CAR review

I am in the process of changing my 2002 Xsara Picasso 2.0 HDi for a 2008 Cmax 2.0 TDCi. I had a test drive of the dealers demonstrator which was the new model 1.6 Ecoboost Titanium. It was a real culture shock stepping out of the Picasso into that! So many Bells & Whistles to begin with, and keyless technology as well.  The first thing I noticed was that the trip computer readout on my Picasso was reading 55.4 MPG (I'll admit it's about 5 MPG optimistic) and the CMax one was 29.4! OUCH! Both readings were "Average" rather than instantaeneous.  It must have been being caned before i got it, because, during the 30 or so miles I drove it, I managed to get it up to over 33. Still not brilliant! Gearing was very Diesel like, The engine doing only about 2000 RPM at 60. The ride was smooth and quiet with well subdued road and wind noise.The engine was a peach. Pulling like a train from low down, like a diesel, but the tacho was red-lined at a very un diesel like 7500 rpm! I didn't need to go anywhere near that to get very decent performance. At no time was I aware of any trace of  turbo lag, and it was the first petrol car I have driven in many a year that I didn't stall once! The handling was great too, with none of the roly poly vagueness of the Picasso.

It initially took me a wee while to get a comfortable driving position. I found the seats very firm compared to the Citroen and had to stop and adjust both the seat and the wheel twice before I was happy.  Compared to the simplicity of the Picasso, I found the Fords radio system over complicated and the positioning of the steering wheel controls was awkward. More thought being given to style than function. The Picasso, on the other hand, is very straightforward but  ALL radio/cd functions can be done from the wheel.

I admit to a great liking for things Citroen, and had been considering a used C4 Picasso, a car which compares well with the CMax. Unfortunately, Citroen have only now started to make the 2.0 Diesel available with a Manual 6 speed 'box. Anyone buying a used one is stuck with either an Auto box or Citroens EGS  (Semi auto), both of which blunt the performance of the engine. Manual drivers are stuck with a 1.6 HDi and a 5 speeder. Ironically, the 2.0 TDCi engine in the CMax is sourced from PSA.

All in all, an impressive drive which convinced me to go for the Ford, my first one since a Mk2 Capri in 1978 and a Mk3 Cortina before that. The Blue Oval has come a fair distance since thos  far off days!

26 July 2011 14:57

 

bertandnairobi

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bertandnairobi says

RE: Ford C-Max 1.6 TDCI (2011) CAR review

To solve Rickerby´s conundrum: the same chassis is not as good as expected in the context of  the hatchback Focus and better than expected in the context of the MPV C-Max. That´s how the same chassis can be a bit disappointing and a bit of a cracker at the same time.

Johann: only last night I was looking at a 2003 advert for the Vauxhall Signum. The LWB concept and useful load bay should have been a great package. It´s a real shame it didn´t sell. Had it been the Vectra replacement I think people would have accepted it. But they gave it a new name and offered the Vectra as well. In the future I may need a newer car. I´d certainly give one of those a look, just because I love the idea of a car with huge rear legroom.

There are certain car designs I call "package" cars. These are cars designed from the inside out. The Vel Satis was one. The 1988-1996 Passat was a package car. The Citroen XM was another. They tend not to succeed because the public doesn´t understand the styling. I think the Signum was a "package" car. It appealed to the head rather than the heart. I rather liked its looks and CAR raved about it when it came out. The public thought otherwise.

05 April 2011 09:23

 

CJJE

CJJE says

RE: Ford C-Max 1.6 TDCI (2011) CAR review

Initially I was quite interested in the new C-Max, despite Ford suddenly adopting the ugly whale mouth that Peugeot have just had the sense to abandon!

But I was appalled at the minimal legroom for back seat passengers when I have the driving seat where I need it. When in the back, my knees were firmly pressed into the back of the front seat, while in a Golf Plus I have several inches of air betwen my knees and the seat back.

I searched for the sliding rear seat mechanism before realising this option is not available in the UK (and not listed in the April price list or brochure). It is shown as an option in Germany however! Were you testing a European model by any chance, or did you have a specially modified test car??

It seems that Ford (like VW) only offer UK buyers some of the options available to German buyers of the same cars. Why should this be? The only explanation I have heard is that they are desperate to keep the average CO2 levels for the various models below the UK taxation bands, while European buyers are allowed to add more options that could increase the CO2 levels of their cars.

Chris

04 April 2011 23:27

 

rickerby

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rickerby says

RE: Ford C-Max 1.6 TDCI (2011) CAR review

I'm struggling to understand how every press review of a Cmax or Grand Cmax has raved about its handling and yet the press response to the new Focus - essentially the same car - has been luke warm to say the least

04 April 2011 17:17

 

Johann

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Johann says

RE: Ford C-Max 1.6 TDCI (2011) CAR review

@ Bertandnairobi:  a very sound argument.  One I've been having with myself re the Vauxhal Signum and Vectra too.  Had the Signum been lunached first and fleet managers were told this is the new Ventra it would have sold in the numbers the ugly Vectra did.  Alas it popped out of the GM oven the other way around.

As to the C-Max being a Focus in a parallel world?  Have you seen one in the metal?!  They have the biggest, fattest rear ends I've seen in ages.  Elegant they are not and like many a recent Ford the wheels look way too small under all that visual bulk.  This won't be mistaken for a Focus hatch by anyone.  (Yet the Signum could have been since it was only a bit longer and FAR prettier than the Vectra in my book!)

04 April 2011 13:48

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