Ford B-Max review
The Ford B-Max is a taller, more practical alternative to the Fiesta with neat doors. Unfortunately, its interior is really starting to show its age
What's not so good
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The Ford B-Max is a compact people carrier that’s roomier than a conventional small car. It’s well worth considering if you want a practical family car with a high driving position.
It might look a little like a swollen Ford Fiesta on the outside, but the B-Max’s clever sliding rear doors make it one of the most practical MPVs on sale. It’s certainly easier to fit a child seat to or jump in the back of than a Kia Venga or Hyundai ix20.
There’s loads of headroom and plenty of adjustment to help you get comfy in the driver’s seat, but some scratchy plastics and a very dated infotainment system make the B-Max’s cabin feel quite old-fashioned. You have to pay extra for satellite navigation too, even on top-spec Titanium X models.
Things don’t really improve when you come to pack the B-Max full of luggage. Sure, its square boot is easy to load, but at 318 litres it’s a full 122 litres down on the Venga and ix20. Thankfully, you can fold the back seats and the front passenger seat down at the same time if you need to carry long items.
For carrying smaller objects you get some handy underfloor storage in the boot, a couple of shopping hooks and some useful cubby holes dotted around the cabin. It’s no tardis, but there’s more than enough space to hide away the usual family bits and bobs.
The B-Max’s height means you get a great view out over the road ahead. There’s a slight blindspot caused by the chunky side window frames, but for the most part it’s a doddle to drive around town.
The practical B-Max proves small people carriers are still worth a look in the face of an ever-growing crop of fashionable SUVs
If you rarely venture out the city you’ll want to pick a B-Max with a nippy 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine. The 125hp version is even perky enough to deal with the odd motorway journey and it’s fairly frugal, too. For regular long drives, however, you’ll be much better off with the improved pulling power of the 1.5-litre diesel.
It’s no limousine, but the B-Max soaks up rutted country roads impressively well for a small car and its tall body doesn’t lean much in tight corners either. Even at motorway speeds you’ll hear barely any wind noise, tyre roar is mostly muted and it’s nice to know the B-Max got a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. Just bear in mind that the tests have been made much stricter since the B-Max was evaluated in 2012.
It isn’t exactly the most high-tech MPV on sale but the Ford B-Max is cheap to buy, economical and comes with bundles of clever features designed to make it easy to live with.
The B-Max might look like a tall, ungainly MPV but it drives just like an ordinary small car – providing you avoid the rather weedy entry-level diesel, that is
If the Ford Fiesta is an olympic gymnast, the B-Max is its retired elderly coach. It’s not quite as athletic, but it’s much more able than its looks suggest
You can get the B-Max with a range of petrol and diesel engines and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox.
Pick the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol model if you spend most time around town. You can get it with 100hp but the perkier 125hp version is both faster and a touch more efficient. Ford claims it’ll return 57.6mpg but in normal driving you can expect to see a figure in the high forties.
You’ll want to consider a 1.5-litre diesel model if you do lots of miles each year. The 75hp version is a little weedy and sounds pretty gruff when you accelerate hard but the 95hp model will happily cruise along at motorway speeds without feeling overworked. Go easy on the accelerator and it’ll return around 60mpg compared to Ford’s claimed 74.3mpg.
The standard five-speed manual gearbox feels precise and is easy to use, but if you want an automatic you’ll have to pick a 105hp 1.6-litre petrol model. Unfortunately, it isn’t as fast as the high-tech 1.0-litre petrol and struggles to return more than 35mpg in normal driving conditions. Its six-speed automatic gearbox does help take some of the stress out of long journeys, however.
The B-Max’s tall body and large windows give you an excellent view out over the road ahead. The thin pillars between the front doors and the windscreen don’t obscure your view at junctions and its large rear windscreen gives you a good view out the back. Unfortunately, the thick frames around the side windows can make checking over your shoulder for motorway traffic slightly tricky.
Thankfully, light steering makes it dead easy to manoeuvre the B-Max around town and the large rear windscreen helps make parking a doddle. To make squeezing into the tightest of spaces even easier, you’ll want to pick the optional £200 City Pack or £600 Rear View Camera Pack. The former comes with rear parking sensors while the latter adds front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
The B-Max feels a little firmer over large bumps than either the Venga or ix20 but it still softens the blow of large potholes impressively well without sending unpleasant thuds through the cabin. It takes rutted country lanes in its stride too, and feels far more eager on a twisty backroad than the rather sedate Kia and Hyundai.
Tyre noise is mostly muted and the B-Max does a good job of suppressing the annoying wind whistle you’ll hear in most small MPVs. It’s impressively stable and smooth at motorway speeds too – so long as you avoid the rather noisy 75hp diesel – and both Titanium and Titanium X models come with cruise control to give your right leg a rest on long journeys.
The B-Max earned an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP back in 2012. The testing procedures have moved on quite a bit since then, however, so newer five-star-rated cars will provide a extra protection in a crash.
For a little extra peace of mind you’ll want to pay £200 for the automatic emergency braking feature. It scans the road ahead for obstacles and can automatically apply the brakes to help prevent a collision.
Clever doors and a roomy cabin make the B-Max one of the easiest MPVs to live with, but its boot isn’t exactly the biggest around and its infotainment system is pretty archaic