Ford B-MAX (2012 - )
Last updated 1 April 2014
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Small MPVs are nothing new but rather than just create another small people carrier, Ford has decided to rewrite the rule book with the B-MAX. Because while it may look like a standard MPV, this Ford has a big trick up its sleeve. Thanks to clever enginneering, Ford has managed to remove the side pillar between the front and rear doors.
Add in sliding rear doors and you have probably the easiest car to get in and out of in the world with an opening of 1.5 metres. But the big appeal is that getting to the back seats is now straightforward - ideal if you have children and car seats to fit. It's also useful for more elderly drivers and there's plenty of headroom and reasonable legroom for what is essentially a small car.
Of course the big concern is crash safety - removing the central pillar has big ramifications for body strength - so Ford has strengthened the front and rear doors with high-strength Boron steel, so that the door frames work together to absorb energy like a 'virtual side pillar'. Special safety interlocks and reinforced latch mechanisms ensure that the doors remain firmly fixed to the roof and floor structure during an impact, and mean the front and rear doors work together to protect the occupants. As a result it was awarded a five star Euro NCAP crash rating.
The B-MAX is based on the Fiesta and is slightly smaller than the C-MAX, but it still drives well helped by the raised driving position which means good visibility in town or when parking. It's refined at speed too and rides well with forgiving suspension. The engine line-up includes Ford's acclaimed 1.0 EcoBoost petrol which offers good performance around town and can average more than 55mpg according to the official figures.
The cabin retains the sporty feel of Ford's small-car interiors, but introduces premium touches and other elements from the larger C-MAX. The driver controls are based on Ford's HMI (Human Machine Interface) approach, with a large six-inch touch screen display.