The Ford B-MAX was introduced to the UK in 2012 and is marketed at as a mini multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). The car is aimed squarely at families and has sliding rear doors, making access really easy for rear seat passengers.
The B-MAX is not meant to behave like a dynamic saloon and therefore its performance can seem a bit underwhelming. It’s by no means a poor drive, though, especially with the best Ecoboost engine, which is refined and frugal.
Speed aside, a B-MAX with the entry-level 1.0 litre power unit under the bonnet will return around 57mpg in a quiet, serene way. That’s only beaten by the 1.6 diesel, which is capable of 70mpg.
However, the diesel is more expensive to buy – and less hushed. That said, the latter is better for motorway cruising and has more pull for overtaking.
The 1.0 petrol is not terrible for out of town driving, but the urban environment is where it’s most at home. Both petrol Ecoboost and the diesel variants are cheap for road tax, too.
Ride and handling
The mini MPV will handle all kinds of road surfaces, but as this car is made for comfort more than caning along backroads, it can feel spongy on tight corners, with a bit of body-roll kicking in here and there.
The steering is accurate and well-weighted, and the brakes are excellent – as are the gear changes. Indeed, this car feels ideal in most family situations – but particularly on straight urban roads and school run dashes. The B-MAX makes every journey comfortable, too, with most lumps and bumps happily ironed out by the car’s suspension.
The seats are supportive and comfy as well, which adds to the overall positive ride. Cabin satisfaction levels are bolstered further by Ford’s insulation materials, which knock the edges off any road and wind noise.
The B-MAX was awarded the top five-star safety rating by independent crash test body Euro NCAP.
The B-MAX is a valuable mode of transport for families because it has colossal rear access. This is because of Ford’s ‘Easy Access Door System’. This blends traditional hinged front doors and rear sliding doors, incorporating the central pillar structure.
This leaves a massive unencumbered opening - over 1.5 metres wide. This is roughly twice the width proffered by other MPVs and makes it appreciably simpler to get into or out of the rear seats, or load and unload groceries.
The MPV’s dual sliding rear doors also make entrée or departure stress-free for rear seat passengers in overcrowded streets or tight parking bays. This is great for disabled users, too, for whom undemanding access is an indispensable factor in any vehicle.
The doors can be opened individually, so the front or rear cabin can be accessed as necessary. But that is not all, an amenable rear seating set-up features 60/40 split seats which can be collapsed flat.
What's more, the front passenger seat can be folded down, giving rise to a vast flat load floor which will consume 2.34 metres long loads. In effect, this means extra-long furniture or a bicycle can be carried.
The seating for the driver is comfy, as it’s for all other occupants. Four adults, or five at a push, will fit into the car as it has ample leg and headroom. There are lots of cup-holders in the Ford and there are good sized door pockets in the front. Space is also fine in the boot.
With the rear seats up, the load area is 318 litres and there is a fake floor, with a bit of extra room for laptops, and the like. The flagship Titanium model is the one to get if you want all the accessories. These embrace, auto headlamps, cruise control, a potent Sony entertainment system and rain sensitive wipers.
What to know before you buy
The Ford is still only four years old and its body-work and mechanicals are standing the test of time well. The car is solid and it’s dependable – two traits important for a family focused machine.
The interior will have been subject to heavy use from kids, and many will have been used by Motability – so just check for scratches from wheelchairs around the boot area and any tears or grubby marks from children in the rear.
These potential issues are simple to scrutinise when you go to view the car.
The Honda Jazz is one to watch out for. It does have a rather ‘beige’ older person’s image, but it’s practical. It doesn’t have awesome sliding rear doors like the B-MAX but its boot capacity is bigger at 337 litres, and it will seat four people.
It returns a similar mpg in petrol form, too. The Fiat 500L is another opponent. Its boot space is up to 400 litres, and space is excellent in the cabin, although the seats aren’t as supportive as in the Ford.
The B-MAX is a brilliant family car. It sorts out accessibility issues for anyone with a disability, too. There are MPVs on used car forecourts with a cheaper windscreen sticker price but the B-MAX is a safe and inexpensive to run motor with a good reliability record.