DRIVING IMPRESSION: Ford B-Max 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium
Whether you refer to them as multi-purpose vehicles (MPV), minivans or people carriers, what you are almost certainly guaranteed off, is more space than a comparable family hatch or sedan.
In recent years however, the MPV has seen its reputation as a family hauler being slowly eroded as more and more families judge it better to have a vehicle that can not only clear potholes and pavements without falling to pieces, but one capable enough of withstanding the change in road surface from tar to gravel i.e. the SUV.
With the latter offerings in its local line-up currently standing at three; EcoSport, Kuga and Everest, Ford made a surprise announcement some eight months ago by confirming local availability of its decidedly un-SUV B-Max compact MPV.
Based on the same platform as the Fiesta, and available in Europe since 2012, the B-Max slots in below the Transit Connect as Ford’s entry-level MPV offering with its introduction also forming part of the Blue Oval’s so-called One Ford Plan, that is aimed at producing vehicles based on the same underpinnings and with similar technology.
Incorporating Ford’s latest Kinetic Design styling language, the B-Max can by no means be classified as your typical boring MPV. From its oversized headlights, which from some angles, has hints of the first generation Focus, bulging wheel arches and that trademark Aston Martin-like lower front grille, the B-Max not only looks neat also stylish.
As our tester turned out to be range topping Titanium model, the visual aspect is boosted with the addition of sporty looking 15-inch alloy wheels, chrome finish around the grille and a full length non-opening panoramic glass roof.
Where the B-Max plays its party piece however, is when you open the doors. Dubbed Easy Access Doors, the traditional B-pillar has been dropped in favour of dual sliding doors at the rear and hinged ingresses at the front for better access or when loading items.
While this has resulted in the fronts being heavier than a traditional MPV as a result of the pillar having been integrated to improve strength and rigidity, the setup adds up to a claimed 1.5 metre aperture with both the fronts and rears open.
Inside, the B-Max’s Fiesta origins really come to fore with the dashboard featuring the same smartphone inspired layout topped a 4.2-inch TFT infotainment display. Finished in a combination of soft touch plastics, aluminium inserts on the steering wheel and piano key black detailing on the facia, the feel is one of quality and refinement.
In addition, the leather seats, with contrasting white stitching, felt comfortable and supportive while the leather covered steering wheel, which interestingly features a shot of black plastic embedded into the rim, sported a wonderful grippy touch.
As expected, the B-Max lacks for little when it comes to space, especially for those seated at the back. With a generous level of leg room, head room is further enhanced by the offering of dual operated sliders for the aforementioned panoramic roof. In short, this allows front and rear occupants to individually choose whether to allow extra light into the cab.
With a 108 mm increase in overall length compared to the Fiesta, boot space in the B-Max is commendable with a capacity of 318-litres which grows to 1386-litres with the 60/40 seat folded down. Additional storage is provided by a false floor and two smaller corner pockets.
Standard spec is about as comprehensive as you could wish for the Titanium boasting Ford’s SYNC connectivity system with voice activation and Bluetooth streaming (both an absolute boon and easy to use), six speaker audio system, front and rear parking sensors, reverse camera, cruise control, auto on/off lights with daytime running LED’s, climate control, electric windows all around, push button start, electric mirrors that automatically retracts when the car is locked, ABS with EBD and BAS, six airbags, traction control and ISOFIX rear mounting points.
Unlike markets in European, local B-Max offerings are solely available with Ford’s four time World Engine of Year winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbocharged engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.
As impressive the little three pot was hiding under the bonnet of the Fiesta, its application in the B-Max somehow better. Press the start button, the engine fires up with its characteristically sounding rough three cylinder thrum before setting down. Punch the accelerator, it immediately responded with virtually no turbo lag and a lovely surge of low down torque, accompanied by slight wssshhh noise each time you lift-off the loud pedal.
Boasting 92 kW and 170 N.m of torque, the EcoBoost, dare I say it, feels more alive in the B-Max than it did in the Fiesta, despite the similar power figures and extra weight. What continued to impress was the slick and precise shifting nature of the gearbox which felt ideally suited to keep the momentum going.
Although its weeklong stay was mostly limited to the daily commute and running errands, the B-Max came nowhere near matching Ford’s claimed combined fuel consumption figure of 4.9 L/100 km, instead returning a still commendable 7.1 L/100 km.
On the ride front, the B-Max use of MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear, translated into a comfortable setup with limited body roll while the steering felt direct and sharp on turn-in.
It’s inclusion in Ford’s local line-up might have been unexpected, but there is a definite “like” factor about the B-Max. With some still resenting the idea of putting their families into an SUV, the B-Max makes for the ideal vehicle if practically, space and not needing extra ground clearance to clear pavements makes your priority list.
|ENGINE LAYOUT||DOHC 12v Inline 3|
|MAX POWER||92 kW @6000 rpm|
|MAX TORQUE||170 N.m@ 6000 rpm|
|DRIVE LAYOUT||Front engine; Front-wheel drive|
|ACCELERATION [0-100 KM/H]||11.2 secs|
|TOP SPEED||189 km/h|
|FUEL CONSUMPTION||7.1 L/100 km*|
*Figue as claimed during test period
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