Ford Motor Company of South Africa launched their all-new B-Max just over a year ago, and it has done pretty well in terms of sales in this small segment of the local market. The new B Max range comprises three variants all powered by Ford’s four time award winning EcoBoost three cylinder engine, which makes 74 kw in the entry level EcoBoost Ambiente and 92 kw in the top spec Titanium model, the model we feature in these road impressions.
The B-MAX is Ford’s answer to small MPVs. It’s a practical family car that offers plenty of interior space with a unique door arrangement. Exterior features include chrome front fog lamps, rear fog lamps, a chrome front grille, rear privacy glass, rain sensing wipers, LED daytime running lights, heated electric exterior mirrors, a tyre Pressure Monitoring System and the B-Max Titanium model runs on multi-spoke alloy wheels which on the test car were shod with Conti 195/60R15 run flat tyres.
Based on the same platform as the popular Fiesta, the B-MAX has sliding rear side doors, no B-pillar between the front and back doors, but is strengthened by a steel cage running through all four doors. With a clear aperture of more than 1.5 metres wide, access to the back row is nice and easy, and attending to children, or loading and unloading shopping, is significantly easier.
Standard spec includes an anti-theft alarm, keyless access and push button start, Ford’s MyKey functionality, a 12-volt power socket at the rear, a trip computer displaying distance to empty, average fuel consumption, average speed, outside temperature and Eco-Mode. Also included is an eight-speaker audio system with 4.2-inch TFT colour screen and Ford SYNC voice control device integration and connectivity interface, and the Sony audio system, with Bluetooth as well as USB and Aux inputs.
Then add electric windows, automatic climate control, Intelligent keyless access, power start button, full leather trim for the seats with heating and lumbar support for the driver’s seat, adjustable built-in armrests front and rear, front parking sensors, and a full-length panoramic roof, which includes fixed glass, roller blinds and an infra-red coating.
Also fitted are a rear view camera, leather-trimmed upholstery plus map nets, bottle holders, 12v sockets, big door pockets and a wide-angle conversation mirror for checking on the rear seat passengers and the B MAX becomes a great package, spacious, clean and clutter-free. The flexible seating system features 60/40 split rear seats that can be folded flat with a simple “one-hand, one-motion” mechanism. The front passenger seat can also be folded, creating an extensive flat load floor from front to rear. With seven different seat-folding combinations, and an adjustable luggage compartment floor, the B-MAX is equipped for all kinds of cargo.
The Ford B-MAX is equipped with a suite of active safety technologies designed to help drivers maintain vehicle control and avoid accident situations. These include seven airbags, the Intelligent Protection System which uses a range of sophisticated technologies designed to help keep you and your family protected, which includes Electronic Stability Program, and Hill Launch Assist. The braking system comprises vented discs in front and drums at the rear with an Anti-locking Brake System and Emergency Brake Assist.
The Ford B-Max Titanium is powered by a 1.0 litre turbo-charged 3-cylinder making 92 Kw at 6 000 rpm and 170 Nm of torque from 1 400 rpm and drives the front wheels through a 5-speed manual gearbox. Surprisingly potent for is modest engine capacity it will cover the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 11.2 seconds and has a top speed of 189 km/h.
Petrol consumption, perhaps aided by the gear shift indicator that highlights the most efficient gear changing points, is given as 4.9 litres per 100 kms. However over the week I had the press car, the trip computer gave me a read out of 7.7 litres per 100 km, but then that did include all the testing. CO2 emission is rated at 114 g/km.
Climbing in to the new Ford B-Max EcoBoost 1.0 litre is easy despite being a little higher off the road than the Fiesta. From behind the multi-function steering wheel, the B-MAX instrument panel is a one-piece moulding with a high end soft-touch finish and the appointments and instrument lay-out is very similar to the Fiesta. The driver’s seat is fully adjustable but the steering column is tilt adjustable only, however it wasn’t difficult to find a comfortable driving position. From the driver’s seat all round exterior vision is good. On the road, even with its higher seating position, the B-Max drives a much like the Fiesta, which is very good.
The high-tech three-cylinder EcoBoost engine is just as sweet in the B-Max and provides excellent performance considering it small compact capacity. On the open road, the B-Max MPV feels no different to driving a small hatch, and a sporty one at that, with its slick changing manual gearbox and eager to rev engine. And with its variable assisted electric power steering, it was also fun to drive and easy to negotiate your way through the traffic, while its compact dimensions make for easy parallel parking.
Body control is good for a car that is taller than average and the suspension is well balanced, giving the B Max a comfortable and car-like ride over most road surfaces, while the light controls and compact exterior dimensions give it excellent agility in town.
The Ford B Max quality both inside and out, is good too, with everything nicely screwed together and plenty of soft touch materials. The recommended retail price for the Ford B-Max EcoBoost 1.0 litre Titanium is R291 800 which includes Ford’s 4-year / 120 000 km comprehensive warranty, a 4-year / 60 000 km Service Plan, 3-year / unlimited km Roadside Assistance and 5-year / unlimited km Corrosion Warranty.Service intervals are every 20 000 km.