Ford C-Max Review

The Ford C-Max is one of the best cars in its class and is also surprisingly nice to drive for a family-focused people carrier. Before choosing the C-Max it’s worth taking a close look at some of the competition out there, not least the Citroen C4 Picasso, VW Touran and Renault Scenic.

6/10
Wowscore

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Great drive
  • Decent build quality
  • Lots of kit as standard

What's not so good

  • Low on space for five people
  • Sub-par fuel economy
  • Rear seats tricky to fold

What do you want to read about Ford C-Max?

Overall verdict

As the looks suggest, the C-Max is like an inflated family hatchback

The Ford C-Max is one of the best cars in its class and is also surprisingly nice to drive for a family-focused people carrier. Before choosing the C-Max it’s worth taking a close look at some of the competition out there, not least the Citroen C4 Picasso, VW Touran and Renault Scenic.

Looking somewhat like a bulging family hatchback, the Ford C-Max actually offers bags of practicality and plentiful space for four adults. Carrying on with the theme, the driver of a C-Max could be forgiven for thinking they had actually purchased a Focus, were it not for the increased headroom. From the air vents to the dials and the switches, you will be very sure you’re in a Ford – though maybe slightly less sure which one.

The stand-out feature of the Ford C-Max is comfortable it is to drive. Though a great drive is now expected from all Fords it is still a little surprising to have such a feel from a mid-sized multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). It is incredibly comfortable and you feel very well isolated from any bumps in the road, making it ideal for keeping sleeping kids asleep on long journeys.

The engine line-up is quite broad and covers everything from a highly-advanced and lively 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol to a 2.0-litre diesel with bags of pulling power.

Ford has positioned the C-Max between the multi-award-winning Focus and its namesake big brother the Grand C-Max. The latter offering sliding rear doors and a larger, seven-seat interior for those that need it.

Available in three iterations, even the entry C-Max Zetec offers 16-inch alloys wheels, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio and a heated front windscreen.

In terms of safety, the Ford C-Max offers Euro NCAP five-star crash test safety, an ‘impact absorbing body shell’ and a full-complement of airbags.

The C-Max doesn't feel like people carrier – it's comfortable and even fun to drive

Mat Watson
carwow expert

Overall, the new Ford C-Max is stylish, though maybe not quite as stylish as the Citroen C4 Picasso. It’s fairly economical, too, but doesn’t lead the class in either emissions or fuel use.

But – and it’s a big but – it’s the best car to drive in the class, and by some margin. We lived with a C-Max for a week and would rate it as one of the best cars out there for family duties. It’s comfortable, reasonably spacious and won’t break the bank.

What's it like inside?

Titanium and Titanium X models get a larger 8.0-inch infotainment screen

The interior of the Ford C-Max may, at first glance, seem fairly run-of-the-mill but there are some crafty extras that could stand to make it a family favourite.

The C-Max has more cubbyholes than you can shake a large bottle at

Mat Watson
carwow expert

How practical is it?

Thanks to the bulbous roof, headroom is generous in the rear seats, and it's only tight with three people across the bench

Loads of headroom, loads of cubby space and loads of boot space. There’s plenty of room for three tall adults and all their things. Load the Ford C-Max up!

There’s even a cubby for your sunglasses. Does that make the C-Max a cool MPV?

Mat Watson
carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
432 litres
Boot (seats down)
1,684 litres

Thanks to its slightly bulbous roof, the Ford C-Max offers great rear passenger head space. Likewise legroom is decent. The slight issue comes with the introduction of a fifth adult in the middle of the back row, and shoulders are bound to clash. However, leg space still fares quite well because there’s a flat floor in front of the back row of seats – there’s no central transmission tunnel to tangle legs over.

The Ford C-Max has lots of cubbyholes and storage space. The roof, for instance, holds two compartments, one for your sunglasses and one for your backup sunglasses, presumably.

Then there’s the larger than average glovebox, the well-sized door bins, that will easily hold a one-litre bottle of water and the central storage bin. The latter of these also hides iPod and aux inputs, putting connected devices and their associated wires far out of view.

In a smart move Ford has added rear blinds as standard – no need for the Winnie The Pooh aftermarket version any more. Shame… Another child-friendly move is the addition of picnic trays to the rear of the front seats, it’s certainly not a new idea but that doesn’t mean it’s not downright useful.

The Ford C-Max is by no means the class leader when it comes to boot space – in fact at 432 litres it’s about 200 litres short of the Citroen C4 Picasso. That said, the boot space is easy to access and a good shape. Because the rear seats are not adjustable, as is the case with other vehicles of a similar size, the best way to get extra space is to fold them forward – or follow the fiddly process of removal. Once folded or removed their absence leaves a slightly impracticable and uneven additional space.

It’s worth noting that the Ford C-Max is available with a hands-free electric-opening boot – you can just wave your foot under the rear bumper to open the boot. We’ve tested it and it does require a bit of patience to find the right spot to swing your foot at – it’s often just easier to scrabble for the electric-boot opening button, even if you have your hands full.

Read full interior review

What's it like to drive?

Given that it's an MPV, the C-Max is surprisingly enjoyable to drive

An unexpectedly tactile and engaging ride

The heading just about says it really. For most MPV users, driver experience comes fairly low down the list of priorities, making way for more pressing matters of space, fuel economy and practicality. The Ford C-Max has those points covered though, so why not have a little fun?

The C-Max is actually fun to drive. Who'd have thought?

Mat Watson
carwow expert

As you’d expect for a family car, the focus here (pardon the pun), is on frugality over straight-line speed.

The Ford C-Max comes with a choice of six engines – modern 1.0-litre and 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrols and diesels ranging from 1.5 to 2.0-litres. While a sporty drive may not be a main consideration for the C-Max’s target market, it is another feather in the model’s cap. The temptation then may well be to add a pair of the larger 18-inch wheels, which offer more grip but also stiffen the ride.

If you’re planning to use the Ford C-Max for longer hauls, the diesel models are most certainly the way to go. They offer a smooth ride, ample overtaking power and the necessary economy. The fastest of those is the 2.0-litre diesel. Coupled with the dynamism of the Ford chassis the 150hp engine will see 0-62mph dealt with in 9.8 seconds and carry on to 126mph.

We tested this 2.0-litre Duratorq diesel engine in 2015, and although it makes quite a loud diesel clatter when you start it up, it’s a generally quiet motorway companion. It’s certainly powerful enough to whisk the Ford C-Max up to motorway speeds with no drama, and there’s enough oomph to overtake briskly and safely. The diesels (there’s also a 120hp version) make for a more soothing ride on long-hauls and are right at home on Britain’s motorways.

While performance is all very well, for the majority of Ford C-Max owners the key question is ‘yes but what will it cost me to run?’ Well, it’s no Porsche but then it’s no solar-powered green machine either. For those inclined to try, the 150hp diesel engine will return more than 60mpg, which isn’t bad, but 13mpg down on the C4 Picasso and 7mpg down on the Renault Scenic. Pairing it with Ford six-speed, PowerShift automatic drops that figure to 56.5mpg. In a surprising twist, the 118hp diesel can only manage 58.9mpg.

As for real-world figures, we managed to eke 48mpg out of the 2.0-litre 150hp diesel with the PowerShift auto gearbox on 300 miles of motorway driving with lots of stop-start traffic.

 

If emissions are on your mind, then it’s worth noting that both 1.0-litre petrol engines produce CO2 of just 119g/km. For running around town and city, the 1.0-litre petrol models offer nippiness and agility – ideal for a trip to the supermarket or the school-run.

The 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol is actually more similar to a sports-car engine than an MPV one, and as a result it feels and sounds racy and adds a new level of sportiness to the Ford C-Max. The running costs are also sportscar-like, so for the best performance we’d stick to the 2.0-litre diesel.

The Ford C-Max gives you the confidence to tackle a twisty country road at the national speed limit, with little body lean and decent feedback through the steering wheel, so you always know how much grip you have. This means it’s a fun car to drive considering its size, and the ride quality doesn’t suffer.

Speaking of ride quality, we were astounded by how well the Ford C-Max copes with bumps in the road – you may tense up expecting a particularly bad pothole to jar your spine, but the C-Max’s suspension just smothers it. If you’re after a comfortable and cosseting family vehicle, this smooth ride should be reason enough to consider the Ford C-Max.

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