The Ford C-Max was always going to have a hard week with me, coming, as it did, straight after the gloriously off-message Transit Custom, a vehicle that wormed its way into my affections with its stunning mnage a trois of versatility, capacity, and durability. Few cars could live up to Big Red.
The C-Max isnt a small car either, so specing it with a 1.0-litre engine was always going to be an adventure, even if that engine is the wonderfully-tuneful and surprisingly powerful EcoBoost. This then, is my week with the Titanium X C-Max.
The C-Max isnt a good-looking car by any stretch of the imagination. Its big, rounded, and looks slightly out of proportion; imagine a full-term pregnant Focus and you wont be far off.
Our press cars specification means 17-inch alloys and bi-Xenon headlights, both designed to let the neighbours know how much youve spent as for practical reasons. Just give the 250 Frozen White paint a miss, wont you? It looks so much better in a sober dark metallic.
The interior is generic Ford. Thats good. The dashboard is familiar and works as well in here as it does in every other Ford. The seats are as comfortable as weve come to expect from cars with a blue oval on the grille and are considerably more supportive than those fitted to many of its rivals.
Titanium X trim means a panoramic, opening roof, part-leather, heated seats (powered for the driver), auto headlights and wipers, cruise control, Hill Start Assist, electric windows, DAB radio with a CD player and a USB connection, and air-con.
Our car gained the 900 Driver Assistance Pack, with Active City Stop, Lane Keeping Alert, Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Alert, Auto High Beam, and Blind Sport Information System. A lot of acronyms but a lot of safety equipment for not a lot of money. Id recommend it in a heartbeat, as I would the Convenience Pack for 525, which comprises Active Park Assist and power mirrors.
I have only a couple of whinges. The first is the startling omission of sat-nav, surely a basic staple of family cars these days? And those rears seats might be a decent size and fold in clever ways but they arent half heavy. No point in having impeccable lumbar support if you put your back out folding em up.
All Fords drive well and the C-Max is no exception, possessing every strand of that corporate DNA we have come to know and love. It handles beautifully (in fact, Im struggling to think of a competitor that handles better) and rides very well indeed. There is a poise and suppleness to current Fords that places them at the very top of their class dynamically.
Motorway speeds are a bit noisier than most, thanks to that willing little EcoBoost engine that has to work harder than it does in their smaller cars, but wind and road noise is well suppressed.
The Ford EcoBoost engine is a familiar format by now. Three cylinders plus one-litre multiplied by a turbo equal huge fun. Nothing this side of a Maserati gives you the vocal range of an EcoBoost; snarls, shouts, buzzes, and yodels are all ready and waiting to be liberated by the flex of your ankle. Achieving the C-Maxs top speed of 116mph should liberate them all, especially if you hit 62mph after the 11.4 seconds that the official figures say is possible.
Its a tuneful engine alright, and even a powerful one (123bhp and 148lb/ft), but it isnt a flexible one. Youll need to drive it like you stole it to get decent performance, a course of action that will see you punished at the pumps. Ford suggests that 55.4mpg is available. It isnt. I got mid-thirties and would consider 40mpg a good result.
CO2 is 117g/km, putting it into VED class C. That means free tax for the first year and just 30 a year thereafter.
Value for Money
Our car, a decently specified Titanium X that had everything youll ever need bar sat-nav, would cost you a whisker over 24,000. Thats really very good value for money.
Ford has also been known to do the odd deal in the showroom though, so if you are in the market for one Id treat that figure as a guide, nothing more
The C-Max with the EcoBoost engine is a bewitching mix, even if it does dodge compelling by the narrowest of margins. I loved the mournful engine note with its half-Porsche-flat-six wail. I loved its energetic personality and zest for revs. I also missed the mid-range torque that weve come to rely on after a generation of driving almost nothing but turbo diesel engines in our family cars.
On balance, Id say its a winning combination, adding a layer of complexity and interest to what might otherwise be a conventional family car. But if you begged to differ youd only get a half-hearted argument from me.
Some will love it and some will hate it. For which Ford must be congratulated as Marmite cars are, after all, better than the low fat, homogenised, vegan offerings that too many manufacturers produce. And for anyone not willing to take a chance of a three-pot, one-litre engine, there are conventional engine options available.
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