New Ford Makes Safe Family Choice

When the shortlist for the European Car of the Year was published in November there was only one really practical car on it, the new Ford C-MAX / Grand C-MAX.

The C-MAX is important for two things. The first is that it gives us more than a hint of how excellent the next generation Focus will be when it arrives early next year and the second is that it makes a really sensible car for a family. In the future, it will be the basis of Ford's first hybrids.

And as Car of the Year doesn't always select the most sensible winner - this year it's the electric-only Nissan Leaf sold by only a handful of dealers in the UK where we are without the infrastructure to support electric cars - we already know that the C-MAX and its sister seven seat model, the Grand C-MAX, have obtained five star ratings under the new, tougher, EURO Ncap safety tests.

The cars come liberally equipped with air bags and other safety systems and gained the highest score ever for a whiplash protection system. They also do pretty well at protecting pedestrians thanks to the high bonnet line, special wiper system, and soft outer panels for the bulkhead below the windscreen.

The previous model C-MAX was rather neglected by UK buyers even though it was a hugely competent car. That said, there were precious few around during the last few months of its existence and ordering one was nigh on impossible.

The new car will correct all that. It's highly visible because it has such an attractive design, especially the five seat C-MAX. The seven seat model is a first for Ford because it's a passenger car with sliding rear doors, making access easier to the third row seats.

But there's more to this car than lost of seats and / or space. For a start, one of the most impressive features is the refinement. I've just been running round in the C-MAX Titanium 1.6 TDCi diesel loaned to me by Edwards Ford in Salisbury (01722 424242) and was amazed at how smooth the car is and how well Ford's engineers have managed to suppress the noise, vibration, and harshness.

While a 1.6 diesel will never set the world alight in a car of this size, not everyone wants rip roaring performance. Most owners want to concentrate on economy and low running costs for things like insurance and road tax and here the 1.6 diesel delivers very well. Achieving 46 mpg was easy, with the car advising when to make up or down changes through the standard six speed manual gearbox.

You can have the five seater with a 1.6 petrol engine for as little as £16,745 in Zetec trim while adding the diesel engine would lift this to £18,245. But upping the game to the Titanium trim, which offers just about all you could want, means a list price of £18,745 for the petrol car and £19,745 for the 1.6 diesel. If you really must have more urge, the 2.0 diesel Titanium is £20,745.

For me, the 1.6 diesel Titanium makes the perfect family car but for those with larger families the Grand C-MAX starts at £18,745 for the Zetec 1.6 petrol with the Titanium 1.6 TDCi at £21,995.

With five seats in place, the C-MAX offers up to 666 litres of load space - fold the seats and this rises to 1,723. Most families would find this ample, especially with five seats in use as it beats competitors.
                                Maurice Hardy

Cars like the Ford C-MAX, with its high rise body and more than ample load space, have now been in the market for more than a decade. They are so sensible that you have to ask why nobody thought of them before.

Even though we have now retired, we have opted for an MPV as our regular car - in our case a seven seat Ford S-MAX diesel as the C-MAX wasn't available at the time we needed to make our choice. Had it been, we might now be driving one of these instead!

This latest addition to the Ford range brings the C-MAX out of the shadows and into the limelight. The old car had very much pass-you-by looks and never stood out on that score although from a practical viewpoint it was extremely sensible and offered loads of space.

Our test car was in a very striking solid white finish - no extra needed for metallic to make the car truly stand out in a crowd. It was really eye catching although the qualities of this car are far more than skin deep. The supportive seats, high rise seating position, and ample rear passenger room create a winning combination crowned by a clear and easy to use dashboard fitted with a top grade radio and music system, something most families will appreciate. With DAB standard across the range, maybe it's time you tuned into this Ford yourself.
                                Annette Hardy

Car: Ford C-MAX 1.6 TDCi Titanium

Does it fit your ego...
0-62 mph: 11.3 secs
Top speed: 114 mph
Bhp: 114 @ 3600 rpm
Torque: 210 lb ft @ 1750 - 2500 rpm

...and your wallet...
Price: £19,745
Urban: 52.3 mpg
Extra urban: 68.9 mpg
Combined: 61.4 mpg
CO2 emissions: 119 g/km
Insurance Group: 11

Best bits: sensible; stylish; spacious.