The big difference between the five seater C-Max and its ‘Grand’ seven seater stablemate is the increased seating accommodation and the fact that this larger version has sliding side rear doors for improved access to the second and third row of seats and these are much easier to use in confined parking spaces. The C-Max has conventional hinged rear side doors and more of a coupe side profile than its larger ‘Grand’ version which has a higher roof towards the rear for better headroom for the third row passengers. As for the front styling they both more or less mirror the latest ‘One Ford’ family face used for the Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo passenger car models.
The all-important load space for the C-Max is 471-litres with all five seats in use and with the three rear seats folded this increases to 1,723-litres. For the ‘Grand’ version the load space ranges from 475 to 1,867-litres. In both instances the load area is boxy in shape so it maximises capacity and access is via a tall and wide tailgate which has the £700 option of hands free power operation using a foot waved under the bumper to activate it.
The front fascia panel again adopts that used in the latest Focus range and for the Titanium and Titanium X versions have the much better 8.0-inch touchscreen. Combined the C-Max and Grand C-Max will see 54% of UK customers choose the Zetec specification, 34% Titanium and 12% Titanium X.
Throughout the range switches and controls have a tidier and improved intuitive layout. The entry level Zetec model’s specification includes electrically operated windows, air-con, 16-inch alloy wheels, Ford DAB audio with the latest Ford SYNC 2 system with emergency assistance, heated door mirrors and Quickclear heated windscreen. Titanium level has additions which include 17-inch alloys, auto headlights and wipers, dual zone air-con, cruise control with speed limiter and a power starter button. Titanium X additions include a panoramic glass roof, Bi-Xenon headlights, partial leather upholstery, a driver’s power operated seat and heated front seats.
There is also a wide range of options many of them safety related and these include automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning and automatic parking function.
When it comes to the choice of engines only available for the C-Max there is a 1.6-litre, 125hp normally aspirated petrol engine with a five speed gearbox and this will take around 8% of sales. Available for both C-Max and Grand C-Max models is the choice of 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol units which will account for 14% of sales and are available with either 100 or 125hp with auto stop-start as standard and a six-speed manual gearbox. Mainstay of the engine options accounting for 71% of sales is the new 1.5-litre TDCI 120hp turbodiesel engine. This replaces the previous 1.6-litre engine but still have more power, better fuel economy and lower emissions. The revised 2.0-litre turbodiesel unit has gone up from 140 to 150hp but has a 20% improvement in emissions. Around 7% of customers will choose this unit. As before there is the option of manual and auto transmissions, depending on the engine chosen.
My test drive version was the expected best selling of the C-Max and Grand C-Max models.
This was the five seater C-Max Zetec powered by the new 1.5-litre TDCI 120hp turbodiesel engine with Start/Stop and a six-speed manual gearbox and carrying a price-tag of £20,045. The seven seater Grand C-Max equivalent is £21,645. Both test models had the Ford SYNC2 DAB navigation system with the better-sized 8.0-inch touchscreen which costs a worthwhile £500. Not only does this work well it also improves the visual appearance of the revised fascia panel.
Both versions of C-Max/Grand C-Max offer a user friendly and practical interior. Out of preference I would opt for the Grand C-Max, not just because of the extra third row of two seats but more importantly because it has sliding rear side doors. This makes loading and unloading of passengers much easier and in particular getting in and out of the vehicle in parallel parking slots where there is little space these days for opening doors.
Both versions ride well as I would expect from the excellent Ford Focus platform. The handling is agile, the ride compliant but there is a shade more body roll than a Focus due to its higher centre of gravity and raised roof line. The only downside is the thick twin front A pillars which can restrict front quarter driving visibility.
The new 1.5-litre, four cylinder 120hp turbodiesel engine is impressive. With 270Nm of torque from 1,750rpm the flexibility and response is remarkably good and is well matched with the six-speed gearbox ratios. How it performs when fully loaded with the family and their luggage on hilly routes remains to be seen but first impressions were good with effortless cruising speeds. Top speed for the C-Max is 114mph with zero to 62mph taking 11.3-seconds with a Combined Cycle fuel consumption of 68.9mpg and 57.2mpg recorded during my test driving using mainly country roads. With CO2 emissions of 105 g/km VED road tax is £0 for the First Year rate and then only £20 for year two onwards.
For the Grand C-Max, due to the extra weight of the vehicle, it is 112mph, zero to 62mph in 12.3-seconds with 64.2mpg in the Combined Cycle and 49.9mpg on test. The CO2 emissions are marginally more at 113g/km so VED road is £0 and then £30 for year two onwards.
This engine can also be chosen with a six-speed Powershift automatic gearbox which adds £1,250 to the price over a manual version. With a high proportion of C-Max family fleet sales going to the Motability market this is an important option and makes little difference to performance or running costs.
With two body options, a wide range of engines and transmissions plus a comprehensive choice of specification levels, both the C-Max and Grand C-Max are good examples of what Ford do well – providing a competitive well priced cost effective product to suit many needs and budgets.
MILESTONES: Ford C-Max Zetec, 1.5 TDCI Start/Stop 6-speed manual (Best selling model). Price: £20,045. 1.5-litre, 4-cylinderr turbodiesel, 120hp, 270Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 114mph, 0-62mph 11.3-seconds, 68.9mpg Combined Cycle (57.2mpg on test), CO2 105g/km, VED road tax £0/£20, BIK company car tax 19%. Insurance group: 17E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: 5-seater, 5-doors, L 4,379mm, W 1,828mm, H1,610mm, boot/loads space 471 to 1,723-litres, braked towing weight 1,200kg. For: Easy to live with, easy to drive, fuel and tax efficient, comfortable ride, improved equipment levels, equipped, versatile seating combinations, improved residual values. Against: Restricted front quarter visibility, some rough edges to the plastic lower fascia and trim around the front seat adjusters, fascia looks better with the optional larger 8.0-screen on Zetec versions, returned much poorer mpg than the official figure.
Ford S-Max Views
It is nearly 10 years since the original Ford S-Max was introduced when it brought a sportier image to the usual slab-sided ‘family bus’ MPV sector and it had vastly superior driving dynamics. Over 82,000 have been sold in the UK since its introduction.
The all-new models priced from £24,545 are even more sporting in their looks and handling. With the underpinnings of the new Mondeo and the visual front looks of all the latest ‘One Ford’ models plus a better fascia with more logical controls and a new 8.0-inch touchscreen plus loads of driver support and safety kit the improvements are logical. On the down-side the sports ride is less compliant and comfortable. In this important area it is no longer the class-leader although for such a large vehicle it remains agile for its size.
At 4,796mm in length there is seating for seven accommodated in three rows of seats and these offers up to 32 seating and load carrying combinations. With the middle and third row of seats folded, which they do easily to provide a completely flat load floor, there are 2,020-litres of cargo capacity and even with five seats in place using the first and second rows for passengers there is still a generous 965-litres of load space. But with all seven seats in three rows being used load space is a skimpy and not practical 285-litres. Unlike the Grand C-Max the S-Max has no sliding rear side doors – they are conventional hinged type but the middle row of seats slide and tilt forward to gain relatively easy access to the third row seating.
The spec level options are Zetec appealing to 30% of UK buyers, the best selling Titanium at 40% and Titanium Sport at 30%. Depending on the equipment level chosen there is a wide choice of engine options but 97% of UK customers are expected to choose a diesel unit. The engine options are 1.5-litre EcoBoost 160hp and 2.0-litre EcoBoost 240hp petrol units and 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCI turbodiesel units with power outputs of 120, 150, 180 and 210hp. There is the option, depending on the engine chosen, of manual or automatic gearboxes. There is also a 4×4 option with the 180hp TDCI engine with a manual gearbox for the Titanium level and Powershift auto for the Titanium Sport level priced at a range topping £32,945. The AWD versions will only appeal to 5% of UK buyers say Ford. They also predict that 29% of customers will choose an automatic transmission and there will be a 50/50 split between retail and fleet/business sales.
The expected most popular model will be the Titanium 2.0-litre TDCI 150hp turbodiesel with a six-speed manual gearbox. This version is priced at £27,695. However for lower mileage retail customers the new 1.5-litre EcoBoost 160hp turbo petrol engine with the same Titanium spec is £1,420 cheaper to buy and is marginally faster for acceleration. The downside for petrol over diesel power is the diesel is better for fuel economy at 56.4mpg in the Combined Cycle rather than the 43.5mpg for the petrol. The CO2 emissions for the diesel are 129g/km with VED road tax at £0 for the First Year rate and then £110 versus 149g/km for the petrol which results in £145 road tax every year. Company car drivers will pay 23% for the diesel engine and 24% for the petrol version.
To get a feel of what the new Ford S-Max offers I tried the best selling 2.0-litre TDCI turbodiesel 150hp Titanium Stop/Start version. This upgraded unit pushes out 350Nm of torque but there is evidence of a lack of low-down grunt below 2,000rpm. The Combined Cycle fuel consumption is 56.4mpg and my rural test driving returned 42.4mpg. The CO2 emissions are much improved, now down to 129g/km so VED road tax is £0 First year rate then £110 thereafter. Company car drivers will pay 23% Benefit-in-Kind tax. The insurance group rating is 20E for this model.
With a larger sport MPV it is not all about space, you could buy a Ford Galaxy to get that or a cheaper seven seat Grand C-Max. The S-Max is more about its sports performance to go with its racier styling. The 2.0-litre 150hp turbo engine just about does give enough zip to make it pleasing and rewarding to drive. Top speed is 123mph and the zero to 62mph dash takes just 10.8-seconds.
The platform from the latest Mondeo family provides safe and secure handling, a relatively roll-free ride but the suspension is definitely firmer and not helped with the optional 18-inch alloy wheels fitted on my test car. Stick with the standard 17-inch ones and save yourself £400. The electric power steering gives less feedback and the ‘glide’ over undulating roads has gone so the S-Max always felt that bit unsettled over country A/B roads but improved on motorways providing the surface was smooth..
The Titanium specification upgrades over the starter Zetec level include the worth having DAB audio and sat-nav system, privacy glass, auto lights and wipers, LED daytime running lights, keyless entry, lane keeping aid (not my choice), useful traffic sign recognition and cruise control with adjustable speed limiter. All versions have a full range of airbags, a mini spare wheel, sports style seats, front and rear parking sensors, SYNC2 with 8.0-inch touchscreen, electric windows and door mirrors. Of course there are loads of options including the £150 active park assist and the much promoted hands-free power tailgate with keyless entry costing £400. Overall the interior is roomy, accommodating but it lacks ‘sparkle’ and appeal – probably best described as efficient but drab.
Overall the new S-Max is as good as the previous one but shouldn’t we expect it to be better?
MILESTONES: Ford S-Max Titanium 2.0-litre TDCI 150, Stop/Start, 6-speed manual (best selling model). Price: £27,695. Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbodiesel, 150hp, 350Nm of torque from 2,000rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 123mph, 0-62mph 10.8-seconds, Combined Cycle 56.4mpg (42.4mpg on test), CO2 129g/km, VED road tax £0/£110, BIK company car tax 23%.insurance group: 20E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: 5-doors, 7-seats, L 4,796mm, W 1,916mm, H 1,655mm, boot/load space 285 to 2,020-litres, braked towing weight 2,000kg. For: As good as it was before but not better, easy to live with, sporty good looks, well equipped. Against: Less settled and accomplished ride, lack of engine ‘grunt’ below 2,000rpm, test driving fuel economy well short of the official figure, interior lacks visual sparkle. Miles Better News agency