The Ford B-Max is a tall people-carrier-shaped car, and that’s not the most tantalising of starts. Yet, with its crisp lines, chunky wheel arches and trapezoidal grille, it has enough interesting details to make sure it’s far from ugly. It stands out from an average looking crowd.
Since the B-Max’s launch in 2012, Fords have gained a glitzier facade with wide chrome grilles and flashy details. Although these newer cars have dated the B-Max a little, the more functional and purposeful design of this MPV suits its utilitarian and extremely practical character.
It stands out from an average looking crowd.
What’s it like to drive?
You sit high in the Ford B-Max, looking down at little hatchbacks and over the top of saloon cars. This lofty position gives you great confidence behind the wheel as you can see far into the distance, react early to any hazards, and more easily anticipate what other drivers and pedestrians might do.
All of the B-Max’s engine options feel well-suited to the car's size and weight, and it feels far nippier than its boxy shape would suggest. The B-Max offers up another surprise out on country roads, too. Tall van-like cars aren’t supposed to handle well, and there’s an unwritten rule that declares they simply shouldn’t be fun.
Ford must have missed that memo because the B-Max turns crisply and feels alert. It’s not as composed as a well-sorted hatchback, like Ford’s own Focus and Fiesta, but it’s good enough to keep a smile on your face.
The B-Max turns crisply and feels alert.
Much like the outside, the B-Max’s interior is functional yet attractive enough. Yes, it’s a little complicated though, with too many buttons cluttering the dash, especially when you consider there's not a lot of technology within the car. And the sat-nav screen is both small and nestled deep into the dash too, which makes it hard to read.
Any frustrations the buttons and screens might create are completely counterbalanced by the actual clever elements in the car. Under-boot storage, centre cubby and armrest, sit nicely along with the usual glovebox and door pockets. Then there’s the front passenger seat. This can fold down to create a small table, a footrest for someone in the rear seat or even a baby changing station – that’s the kind of clever that we like to see.
The B-Max has no pillar behind the front occupants, so the safety belt is incorporated into the front seats. It’s a big and bulky mechanism, which reduces forward visibility for the rear passengers. It doesn’t affect the car’s safety credentials or the driver’s vision.
Providing ample space for absolutely anything you might need is why the Ford B-Max exists. The boot is huge, and big enough for a couple of prams, 5 large suitcases or, at a push, shopping for your entire street (depending on where you live). If you do find you need more room, perhaps to transport a bed or a couple of bikes, the rear seats fold flat, quadrupling the boot space.
Then there’s the B-Max’s party piece - rear sliding doors. The rear doors swoosh down the side of the car – just like the door of a van but on both sides. This allows you to open each door in tight parking spaces, while still creating a big enough opening to slide in and out of easily.
That’s not even the best bit, no. The pillar that the front door would ordinarily close on to just isn’t there. Opening up the front and sliding door at the same time creates a hole as big as the entire side of the car, allowing unobstructed access for child seats, elderly people or gigantic dogs. You name it, whatever you want to get on to the back seats of a B-Max, you probably can.
Running costs and reliability
There’s a substantial fuel saving to be made with the diesel Ford B-Max compared to the petrol version. More than 55mpg is achievable in the diesel-powered models, around 15mpg better than the alternative engines. The diesel-engine B-Max is also cheaper to tax.
The B-Max uses many of the Ford Fiesta’s mechanical components, so you can expect it to be sound and dependable. The Fiesta is the UK’s best-selling car, not only because it's well-priced and good to drive, but thanks to its reliability.
What cinch loves
Slide back the rear side door then pull open the front one and it's immediately clear what sets the Ford B-Max apart from just about any other car. Every part of the vehicle is so easily accessible through this huge opening. Whether you’re reaching in to retrieve a child seat, easing yourself in, or feeding in a precarious object, there’s just nothing to hinder your access.