Ford B-Max Zetec 1.4 90PS

September 2012

picture of car from the front

Familiar Ford design cues are obvious

Ratings

Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 7Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 9Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 6Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Familiar Ford family 'look' is appealing
  • Cabin is well thought-out and boasts a high quality feel
  • Responsive handling makes the B-Max an enjoyable car to drive
  • Pillarless cabin layout offers clever way to boost versatility

Gripes

  • Three-cylinder motors run out of puff too quickly
  • Fascia is cluttered with lots of small secondary controls
  • Can prove pricey once you've added some tempting options
  • A basic, larger C-Max comes close in terms of practicality

Ford might rarely be first to market with bold innovations, but when it does push the envelope the results are often impressive. Take the firm's B-Max compact people carrier; it lacks a central cabin pillar to improve occupant access.

In recent years Ford has achieved considerable success in the expanding people carrier business. The firm's C-Max is everywhere and the larger models have been well received by business users. The B-Max fills the gap below the C-Max, as it could be viewed as a more versatile compact hatchback replacement.

The car's main feature is centres on the lack of a B pillar, which has resulted in unobstructed access to the cabin with all the doors open - both the conventional front door and the rear sliding door.

This might not sound exciting in theory but in practice it creates a more accommodating cabin, while speeding up access to the rear of the vehicle. Think kerbside drop offs on the school run and dealing with the tight confines of supermarket parking bays. Granted, the rear sliding doors help, but add a usual central pillar and the task is clumsier.

But the B-Max isn't a one trick pony. Offering the same high levels of the refinement, comfort and driving enjoyment as the larger C-Max, the car delivers all the usual Ford refinements. There's even the maker's three-cylinder petrol motor on hand to cut running costs. Although, in reality this engine performs at its best when used for light duties, as the diesel motors are better at the heavy lifting chores.

Our verdict on the Ford B-Max Zetec 1.4 90PS

With its rakish looks and easy access cabin, the B-Max is versatile yet compact people mover. It comes with all the good things that have been tried and tested in Ford's larger MPVs, and adds a welcome extra sparkle to day-to-day driving duties. Choose your engine type wisely and the ownership experience can be pleasantly rewarding one.

Costs
Costs rating 7

Opt for a Zetec grade car and you'll likely be all set - the high-spec Titanium cars are well equipped but might be too much for a stretched family budget. The small capacity engines complete the penny-pinching package but opt for the most powerful you can afford, as they need to be worked hard when fully loaded - and that means greater fuel consumption.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 9

The absence of a central 'B' pillar makes all the difference here. Once you open the doors you soon appreciate the extra space that's been liberated. The use of sliding rear doors is a boon in tight spaces. Elsewhere, there's sufficient cabin oddment storage and enough space for four adults. At the rear the seats fold to create a versatile and accessible load space.

picture of car from the rear

Removing central cabin pillars boosts versatility

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 6

The layout of the B-Max is similar to that of other Fords, and while it does feature some slick design the many minor controls can prove fiddly in use. Thankfully the car's main dials are clear and easy to read at a glance.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

Going hand in hand with B-Max's impressive handling is the comfortable ride quality, soothing away most bumps with ease despite the car's modest wheelbase. Wind and road noise levels are well managed too, and the general feeling of insulation and space helps boost overall comfort levels.

Car security
Security Rating 8

The B-Max comes with a comprehensive anti-theft system as well as remote central locking as standard. At the rear the sturdy load cover should keep prying eyes from spotting your valuables

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

Thanks to the generous application of airbags, electronic stability aids and clever construction methods, the B-Max is at least equal to its rivals in the compact people mover category.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 6

With a brace of low power petrol and diesel engines on offer, the B-Max is never going to please keen drivers. That said, the car delivers a polished driving experience and feels much like any other Ford. However, fully loaded it might struggle if paired with a low capacity engine. At least the slick transmissions and generously assisted steering make light work of general driving duties.

picture of car interior

Easy on the eye but some controls could be better thought out

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 8

For small families with very young children the B-Max offers all the versatility you won't get with a regular family hatchback. There's ample rear load space and those clever doors will soon prove invaluable in tight supermarket parking bays.

First car appeal
First car Rating 6

As an alternative to a conventional supermini the B-Max could prove a smart choice if extra space is needed. It would be as cheap as a small hatch, but for family duties it would be ideal. That it's easy to drive and potentially frugal is a welcome bonus.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 5

Building on the popular image of the larger C-Max, the compact B-Max hopes to tempt buyers seeking more flexible space than what's offered by a supermini. The types of materials used makes the most of the impressive design and the overall feel is one of quality that would be associated with a more exclusive brand. Factor in Ford's popular image and the car's innovative doors, and the B-Max has the edge over most rivals.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

There's no question that the car's large door apertures give the B-Max the crucial accessibility that is required for a car in its class. The same goes for the tailgate, which opens high and wide to further enhance the car's appeal and usefulness.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The standard audio system has boasts a good specification and the basic electronic music player connections are present. Factor in the presence of Bluetooth and you're all set. The various controls and displays could be more intuitive, though.

picture of car in detail

Folding combinations of rear seats allow added practicality

Colours and trim

The B-Max is available in some pleasingly bright hues which, with the right alloy wheels, give the car a youthful appearance in keeping with its target market. Although there are lots of dark colours on the inside, the overall ambience is a high quality one.

Parking

The B-Max's upright stance means it is relatively easy to judge the cars extremities when parking, but there's no harm in selecting parking sensors as a backup. The car's rear pillars can block some of the view rearwards but the good size mirrors mostly compensate for this.

Spare wheel

A tyre repair kit is fitted as standard.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.0-litre (100bhp, 125bhp); 1.4-litre (90bhp); 1.6-litre (105bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.5-litre (75bhp); 1.6-litre (95bhp, 113bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual, six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Trim levels: Studio, Zetec and Titanium, Titanium X.

 

Alternative cars

Nissan Note Conventional Nissan is easy to drive and spacious

Vauxhall Meriva Compact people mover offers straightforward ownership experience

Citroen C3 Picasso Style-led C3 people mover boasts plenty of clever features

Peugeot 2008 More crossover than MPV but practical and easy on the eye



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September 2012