A stylish alternative to a sub-compact hatchback
Ford’s B-segment MPV, the new B-MAX – a stylish and rather innovative alternative to a sub-compact hatchback or for those looking to downscale from larger vehicles without compromising on space or indeed practicality. It’s based on Ford’s global B-car platform (like the Fiesta and EcoSport) and Ford calls it a MAV – Multi-Activity Vehicle. The three-model range starts at R221 900 for the Ambiente model, stretching up to R246 900 for the Trend and finally R271 900 for the range-topping (and loaded) Titanium.
Overall design is a bit dated. It features a nose very similar to the pre-facelift Fiesta and the interior is what I’d call ‘last year’s Ford’. There’s too much going on in there, and it can be frustrating to find the right button on the dashboard at times. That said, on the whole it proves a nifty little car, and with ‘premium’ overtones uttered by Ford at the launch, it features pleasingly high levels of quality, fit and finish. It’s not ugly by any means, and features enough style for sassy moms to enjoy with a sense of achievement – this is not a lifeless Toyota Avanza, for example.
In a word: plenty. Taller, longer, more spacious and more practical than a Fiesta, the B-MAX features twin sliding rear doors and an absent B-pillar as unique and innovative features. Practicality is a direct beneficiary – with the front and rear doors open, a 1.5-metre opening is created for easy ingress and egress. The ‘one-hand, one-motion’ folding mechanism for the 60/40-split rear seats makes adapting the B-MAX easy as well, and with 2.3-metres of overall load length available with all the seats folded, it doubles as a capacious cargo carrier as well as a comfortable people mover. B-MAX also includes features like SYNC (voice-activated infotainment) on all models, along with MyKey functionality, all-round parking sensors with a rear-view camera and a full-length panoramic roof in the range-topping Titanium derivative.
Power for the three initial derivatives comes from Ford’s powerful and award-winning 1.0-litre 3-cylinder EcoBoost turbo petrol engine, which offers low emissions (114-119 g/km) and great economy (Ford claims as little as 4.9-litres per 100 km on the Trend and Titanium models). All three models feature a five-speed manual gearbox, but Ford says the possibility of an automatic transmission – as well as other engine options – could be on the cards in the future. On the road, B-MAX is simply enjoyable. It’s not an over-achiever, doing a good job of being a good car and not really falling short in any areas. At the end of the day, an MPV by definition is boring, really, but at least the new B-MAX doesn’t feel or look dull.
With the similarly-clever Opel Meriva no-longer available, the new Ford B-MAX essentially has the B-MPV segment all to itself – with maybe the Honda Jazz sneaking in as a competitor if only for its superb and similar practicality. Pricing is keen – and with the great amount of standard equipment, the value-for-money factor is high. Prices include a 4-year/ 60 000 km service plan and 4-year/ 120 000 km warranty.
B-Max 1.0 EcoBoost Ambiente – R221 900
B-Max 1.0 EcoBoost Trend – R246 900
B-Max 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium – R271 900
Words by Brent Ellis @journobrent