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Back in 2012, MadeForMums tested the then new Ford B-Max and found it to be an eerily futuristic ride. So much so, MFM HQ was left wondering what on earth could possibly come next?
Enter the C-Max range. Make no mistake, test driving the 2015 offerings I (MFMer Emma Oliver) found myself going back to the future and a ‘Look mum, no hands’ experience .
The new five-seater C-Max and seven-seat Grand C-Max (with sliding doors) are designed, according to Ford, with families in mind – of course.
Built to make day-to-day living easier, the cars are sold on being safer with hand-free tech and numerous smart driver assistance features.
Having been invited by Ford to test drive the C-Max and to check out the Grand C-Max, I was just a little bit excited to learn it was in Mallorca.
And then of course just a little bit nervous as I immediately sat behind the wheel of a brand new left hand drive car, to be let loose onto Spanish motorway at the touch of a button.
Having previously worked as a nanny all over the world, I was once used to driving on the wrong side of the road, but it has been a while, and hey, I’m only human.
Fortunately for me, the new Ford C-Max appears to be relatively human too, and can be relied upon for all sorts of futuristic technological safety features, such as keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
So, what makes the Ford C-Max different from the B-Max?
The main difference is the technological upgrades. The older B-Max aimed to give families more space in a small car, without compromising safety. While the new C-Max is more technology advances (more on this later) than you can shake a stick at.
One noticeable change, and something that the B-Max was frequently criticized on was the noise level in the car when travelling at high speeds. The C-Max has been built to provide a smoother, quieter ride – result!
What are the best family-friendly features?
Firstly, the wonderfully marvellous invention MyKey means the car recognises when you are near, and unlocks itself even with your key at the bottom of your bag. Ideal if you have a toddler in full-blown tantrum mode on your hands.
Then there is the Hands-Free Tailgate technology, enabling you to access the boot space even with your arms full, using a gentle kicking motion under the rear bumper to open the tailgate. For anybody carrying anything this is useful, but for mums and dads loaded with babies, bags and buggies, this is a brilliant addition.
Other great safety aspects are a dashboard alert that indicates if a seatbelt is undone, and fish-eye rear view mirror that helps drivers to keep an eye on rear passengers.
And a dog guard ensures pets stay in the good size boot area where they are less likely to cause distraction.
Can the C-Max fit 3 cars seats in the back?
No, it can’t. It can fit two nicely, but if you need more you’ll have to look to the seven-seat Grand C-Max, which holds up to four car seats – perfect for large families.
The changeable interior of the Grand, means you can fold away the middle seat of the second row (too small to take its own car seat), revealing entry to the two rearmost seats.
This all switches easily. Annoyingly though, when in seven seat mode, you lose most of your boot space.
If you do want three car seats together across the second row, you could always get the bigger Ford S-Max, which has 5 adult sized seats plus 2smaller seats.
Ford’s range clearly allows the purchaser to choose a combination that works for individual family needs, driving preferences and budget.
Is it I-Size compatible?
Yes, the C-Max has ‘i-Size’ mounting and is compatible with the latest ISOFIX child seats.
This won’t come as a surprise to Ford enthusiasts, as the manufacture has long been a leader in i-Size implementation, working actively with the rule making bodies on the i-Size regulations ECE-14 and ECE-129. Ford was also the first to launch an i-Size compliant vehicle – the (Ford EcoSport). All good to know.
What other tech features are there?
The big selling point has to be the Active Park Assist technology – it’s basically the car parking by itself.
What it does is scan the roadside for suitably sized parking spaces and reverses the car into them, performing both parallel and perpendicular parking without the driver having to touch the steering wheel.
The first time I tried it I was mortified. It is no doubt freaky, and I had to make sure I didn’t touch the steering wheel at all, I felt like I was a passenger in my own car.
But initial shock and nerves aside this feature could be a real help to many mums and dads who have the constant distraction of children in the back, and when trying to reverse park, can often find themselves in a tight spot.
Such genial tech is all well and good, but as a mum I know one of the most simple yet useful features of the C-Max is the integrated window blinds.
They provide immediate shade as and when required; making for a more comfortable journey for all concerned.
How safe is it?
Like most family hatchbacks, the C-Max comes with front, side and window airbags, and these helped it achieve a five-star rating when it was crash tested by the safety specialists at Euro NCAP.
Should you have a serious accident in the C-Max, the safety system can connect to emergency services. But the new C-Max Active City Stop and Active Braking systems support the driver by scanning the road ahead and automatically applying the brakes to reduce the impact of collisions, or avoid them altogether.
There’s also a stability control system that helps drivers regain control if the car starts to slide, while electronic brake assist adds additional braking pressure in emergencies.
Optional systems such as blind spot and driver drowsiness monitoring, and lane keeping assistance, all offer extra protection but it’s worth noting you will have to pay extra for them.
How does it drive?
It drives really well! Driving through the beautiful Balearic island of Mallorca, complete with spring flowers, blue skies, and mountainous backdrop, I could see that the route had been carefully chosen to demonstrate that the C-Max handles. And it was brilliant and incredibly fun. Steering is sharp and the car grips the road well.
The engine (the same as a Ford Focus) is poky with power, but don’t worry if you’re afraid of tipping the upper end of the speed limit – the dash tracks it for you, letting you see it wherever you are.
How does the SYNC 2 connectivity system work?
Leading the way toward autonomous vehicles, the C-Max also led me toward lunch. I drove for 45 minutes on gorgeous shiny 16” alloys, following touch screen navigation – part of the very easy to use in-built SYNC 2 connectivity system.
This is available for the first time on the 2015 C-Max, and not only means the dash is simplified, but also means you can sync smartphones, access apps and control many of the car’s minor functions by spoken command. Ask and you will receive.
For example, if you want food, tell it you’re hungry, and then converse about what and where to eat before the car takes you to dinner. (No sadly, it won’t pay too).
Or, say your children want to sing along to Disney, all at once Aladdin’s genie appears – simply plug in your MP3 or phone into the USBs provided.
What’s the boot like?
The space within the C-Max is good.
How much will the C-Max cost?
They vary. You can buy the basic model for £18,195 and the top model for £26,145.
Will this car have a good resale value?
Ford say it will, £650 better than the previous C-Max, although I’m not sure how they worked that out.
The new Ford C-Max is great fun to drive, reasonably cheap to run, safe and intelligent. It may look a little like a lunch box but it’s a practical and comfortable MPV. The tech side however, not surprisingly leaves me a little uncomfortable.
On the whole it is intuitive, simple to understand and easy to operate, but there are so many clever features, I think you would need to be very familiar with the handbook, or better still, have a Ford representative teach you everything there is to know about the car before you drive it.
But don’t worry too much, if Ford carry on delivering such technical ability within their vehicles, before long, you won’t even need know how to drive, because let’s face it; soon a car like this will be able to drive its occupants by itself. And when that happens, Ford will surely have gone further than any one of us dared dream possible. Look out. It’s coming.