Ford B-Max opens the door to multi-activity vehicles

2015-12-03 06:00
The absence of B-pillars (the pillar between the front doors and the back passenger doors) in the Ford B-Max ensures the maximum unobstructed access when the front and back doors are simultaneously open.                                      Photo:SUP

The absence of B-pillars (the pillar between the front doors and the back passenger doors) in the Ford B-Max ensures the maximum unobstructed access when the front and back doors are simultaneously open. Photo:SUP

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FORD has launched its B-Max compact vehicle in South Africa, and with prices starting at just more than R220 000, it is set to get the attention of the many people in the market for a car which is just a little bigger than a hatch and smaller than an SUV.

The B-MAX represents Ford’s vision for a compact multi-activity vehicle (MAV). It’s an urban runner taking one from A to B, C and D in a stylish cost-effective way, but also quite capable of taking to the open road with comfort and excellent performance.

So what makes the B-Max unique? Its name says it all – the absence of B-pillars (the pillar between the front doors and the back passenger doors) ensures the maximum unobstructed access when the front and back doors are simultaneously open.

The back doors are sliding doors which open backwards like a van’s side door - perfect for those tight parking spaces on shopping and school runs, especially in the Windy City.

In addition, the B-Max is equipped with Ford’s award-winning 1.0 litre Ford EcoBoost petrol engine – which was voted International Engine of the Year for three consecutive years. All models have a 5-speed manual gearbox.

The B-Max is available in three trim levels with the test car being the highest spec Titanium model, featuring the Ford SYNC infotainment system, a rear-view camera, full-length panoramic roof, Ford MyKey functionality, as well as automatic headlights and windscreen wipers.

All models are well-equipped and even the basic Ambiente model comes with air conditioning, one-touch electric windows and a six-speaker sound system with Bluetooth connection, voice control and steering wheel-mounted controls.

Additional features in the Trend version are cruise control, a trip computer, an eight-speaker sound system with a touchscreen colour display, alloy wheels and front fog lights.

Safety features in all the models include front, side, curtain and driver knee airbags, ABS brakes, electronic stability programme control and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Exterior

The B-max is based on the same platform as that of the new Fiesta – but is just a little longer, wider and taller than the Fiesta.

When both front and rear doors are open the access to the interior is 1.5 metres wide, making it easier to enter or exit the rear seats, attend to children in child seats, or load and unload shopping.

Interior

The B-max features a spacious interior, which is dominated by a rather busy instrument panel. The Titanium has a high class look, with a reverse camera in the instrument panel and stitched leather seats and leather steering wheel.

The flexible seating system features 60/40 split rear seats that can be folded flat with a “one-hand, one-motion” mechanism. It also boasts seven different seat-folding combinations and an adjustable luggage compartment floor.

The front passenger seat can also be folded, creating an extensive flat-load floor from front to rear. Here, you could load or unload long objects from the side of the car as there is no B-pillar in the way.

Plenty of cup and bottleholders in easy-to-reach positions add to the practicality of this vehicle.

Ride

The rear sliding doors are not as heavy and difficult to operate as expected and my 11-year-old found them easy enough to manage.

The only downside to the different B-pillar configuration is that you have to stretch your neck a bit to look out for oncoming traffic from the side as it creates a slightly wider blind spot.

The car offers outstanding agility and manoeuvrability for city driving. I found the movement from first to second gear a bit jerky, but after that it was smooth changing all the way to fifth gear.

The roadnoise of the 1.0 litre engine is surprisingly low at speed and on the open road.

To test the BMax to its full potential, it was taken out for a family outing to Jeffreys Bay. The BMax is very responsive and quick off the mark when foot is put to the accelerator, allowing for confident overtaking.

The steering is light and yet it doesn’t have a floaty feel.

According to Ford, the average fuel use from a combination of start-stop city driving and open road cruising is 4,9 litres/100km.

Price

The B-Max also comes standard with four-year/60 000km service plan and four-year/120 000km warranty.

1,0 EcoBoost Ambiente – R221 900

1,0 EcoBoost Trend – R246 900

1,0 EcoBoost Titanium – R271 900

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