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Ford C-Max

Practical MPV that is great for families and pets due to having lots of space and a gigantic boot.

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With the C-Max, Ford identified a niche in the market for people who needed an MPV for practical reasons, but also wanted a car that was fine to drive. As a result, the model has class-leading driving dynamics, as you’d expect from a car that’s built on the platform of the excellent Focus hatchback. 

There are two different versions of the C-Max - the five-seater C-Max and the seven-seater Grand C-Max, which has an extended wheelbase to accommodate an extra pair of fold-down chairs. Each has a different appeal. The Grand C-Max is aimed squarely at family buyers (and is also a popular choice with private hire firms), while the five-seat C-Max is effectively a larger Focus, as suited to family buyers as it is to those who want a large load area for practical reasons, such as carrying big loads, or pets. 

Whichever model suits you, there’s the usual Ford advantages - sensible running costs, good parts availability and a dealer in every town. It’s a winning package that makes a very popular second-hand option.

front view ford c-max

Exterior

The five-seat C-Max has the appearance of a high rise hatchback more than that of an MPV. It’s a handsome car, with looks that belie its size. At the front, it gets Ford’s distinctive wide-mouthed grille and delicate headlamps, while at the rear it looks very much like a Focus, which is no bad thing.

The Grand C-Max is perhaps a little less congruous, it’s taller, longer body favouring function over form, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad looking. Far from it, in fact. High spec models feature large alloys and smart chrome detailing, giving it an upmarket image that’s not the first thing you’d associate with the mainstream badge. Range-topping Vignale models look great, and are stacked with standard equipment at a surprisingly affordable price.

ford c-max interior

Interior

Up front, the C-Max borrows heavily from the Focus on which it’s based. That means that the dash is ultra-modern, with Ford’s trapezoid styling themes carried on throughout the car, including on the centre of the dashboard and around the door handle inserts. 

A chunky multimedia steering wheel features controls for the infotainment and Bluetooth functions, as well as the main controls for the smartphone-mirroring SYNC 3 infotainment unit, whose upright touchscreen is a focal point of the cabin on all but the most basic models.

In the C-Max, rear passenger space is excellent, while the boot will swallow all but the largest of loads. Drop the seats and there are over 1,400-litres of space on offer, perfect for transporting furniture or loading up for camping trips.

The Grand C-Max has even more space on offer, and despite the fairly compact dimensions, it’s possible to fit two adults in the rearmost row of seats, though they won’t be as comfortable as those in the middle.

With the rear seats in situ, the boot space is limited, but the occasional nature of those chairs means they can be folded flat into the boot floor, leaving plenty of room for the dog, the luggage and the kitchen sink.

side view ford c-max

Driving and practicality

Here’s where the C-Max truly comes into its own. Beneath the multi-purpose exterior lurks the chassis of a truly excellent car - it might be lofty and top heavy, but the chassis more than compensates, with extraordinarily good body control and truly rewarding steering. 

The Grand C-Max is naturally heavier, but that doesn’t mean it’s a big compromise. Far from it. It’s a big car, but it still enjoys the same sharp steering, tautness of body control and compliant ride that the smaller car does, so if you need a family car for the weekends but one that’s also a fun steer on the daily commute, you won’t go far wrong.

No C-Max is particularly quick, but all are lively enough, even the entry-level 1.6 petrol. The 1.0 turbo models punch well above their weight, while the 2.0-litre diesels are probably the pick of the range, the natural torque of the turbo diesel engines really suiting the dynamic package.

rear view ford c-max

Lifestyle

As family cars go, the C-Max and Grand C-Max represent the perfect formula. Both are well made, very well equipped and exceptionally practical, which are the things that most MPV buyers prioritise when buying such a vehicle.

Where both really star, though, is in their driving dynamics. For the family driver who needs a multi-purpose vehicle with plenty of space on offer, but with the running costs of a compact hatchback and a driving experience that can still deliver its fair share of reward, the C-Max is just the ticket.

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