Just when you thought there were more than enough so-called ‘niche models’ in the market, along comes another one, the Ford B-Max,
Forget the MPV — that’s Multi-Person Vehicle, or Multi-Purpose Vehicle, depending on which manufacturer you speak to — and say ‘hello’ to the MAV.
The MAV? Yup, according to Ford it’s what we all want: a Multi-Activity Vehicle. Hmmm! It’s amazing what questionable ideas marketing people come up with. Anyway, back to the B-Max.
While it remains unclear what specifically sets an MAV apart from an MPV, what does make a difference is the fact the B-Max is fitted with sliding rear doors.
That statement in itself is probably enough to have the majority of you recoiling in horror. Remember the Peugeot 1007 back in 2004? It too had sliding doors and it failed pretty miserably: after sales of just over 124,000, it was canned in 2009.
Cleverly though, Ford has paired the sliding rear door — it’s called the Easy Access Door System — with a traditionally-opening pair at the front. And Ford designers have done away with the B-pillar: that’s the main structural pillar between the front and rear doors.
Instead, the B-Max has what Ford calls an “integrated B-pillar”. This is formed by the trailing edge of the front side doors and the leading edge of the sliding rear doors.
In terms of safety and rigidity, when the doors are closed ‘crash catchers’ lock them to the roof and floor structures, reproducing the stiffness of a fixed B-pillar.
As you would expect, Ford has carried out endless virtual crash simulations and is confident the B-Max will get the crucial five-star Euro-NCAP rating.
The sliding rear door certainly encourages easy access. Fully opened, the unobstructed space is 1.5-metres wide and in addition to making life easier for rear passengers to get in and out, it’s far simpler to fit a child safety seat . And when it comes to loading heavy, bulky items, it’s a dawdle.
A further boost is the fact the rear seats fold completely flat, plus the load floor at the back is also adjustable.
The B-Max is available in three trim levels — the entry-level Studio, which starts at £12,995; the £15,600 Zetec and the range-topping Titanium, which is priced from £17,595. The Zetec is expected to account for around 60% of sales.
Worth highlighting, the Studio doesn’t get aircon as standard; nor does it get alloy wheels.
There’s a comprehensive array of powerplants available in the B-Max, including two versions — 100bhp and 120bhp — of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost power unit, first seen in the larger Focus. There’s also 1.4 and 1.6 four-cylinder petrol models producing 90 and 105bhp.
Such are the advances of engine technology that the most powerful petrol, the 120bhp 1.0 EcoBoost — fitted with start-stop — is also the most frugal, deliver 57.7mpg and 114g/km CO2.
The B-Max is also available with the choice of two diesels, the 90bhp 1.6, capable of 70.6mpg and 104g/km; plus a new 75bhp 1.5-litre diesel delivering 68.9mpg and 109g/km.
Inside the bright and spacious cabin, you instantly notice the high roof and the fact the seats are high-mounted, thus ensuring even better visibility than the Fiesta, on whose platform the B-Max is based.
The dashboard, with a twin-dial instrument binnacle, is instantly identifiable as being from the Ford family. The Titanium spec also gets a rather a complicated Sony stereo system and, surprisingly, satnav will not be offered from launch. Ford has also relocated the USB charging slot from the glovebox to the centre console.
Visibility from the driver’s position is good, though if you prefer the security of front and rear parking sensors, best buy the optional rear camera pack, which will set you back 600 quid.
There’s almost something for everyone in the B-Max, whether you’re a young family up-sizing, or an older couple downsizing: both will appreciate the versatility, the space and, dare I say it, those sliding rear doors.