"These sorts of cars are all about the interior practicality though, and the B-MAX looks as if it'll come in useful..."
Think Ford MPVs and you'll probably think first of the Galaxy, or maybe the smaller C-MAX. One car that's usually overlooked is the tiny B-MAX. While compactness might not instantly seem the most compelling virtue for an MPV, the Fiesta-based B-MAX nevertheless crams a lot of talent into its 4060mm length. We've just taken delivery of one as a long term car and while it didn't provoke a mad rush for the keys, I expect that this one might prove to be a grower. It's called a B-MAX because it basically has no B-pillar. If you're of a certain age, you might instead associate Bemax as a rather vile vitamin supplement that your mum used to lace your breakfast with, but I doubt that thought was uppermost with the Ford marketing team when they came to name the car. It's a tidy-looking thing, helped by the optional Nautical Blue paint and upspec Titanium-X trim that our car has been delivered in. With smaller wheels and silver paint, I've no doubt it would look a bit anonymous, but as it stands, it looks anything but frumpy. Life's too short for frumpy MPVs. Like most modern Fords, the B-MAX sports a grille that looks like an Aston Martin crib. If a brand is going to unashamedly copy the front end of a car, I'd rather they chose an Aston Martin than, say, a Peugeot 4007. Otherwise, the exterior of the B-MAX follows much the same 'kinetic design' as contemporary Fords. Certain features catch the eye. The zig-zag slash on the lower rear doors is a bit outre and the swage line that runs the length of the body is deeply chamfered. These sorts of cars are all about the interior practicality though, and the B-MAX looks as if it'll come in useful. You get the usual 60/40 split rear seats and carrying capacity is boosted by a folding front passenger seat. Together these create an extensive load floor, capable of swallowing items measuring up to 2.35 metres in length. The side access is particularly convenient to load bulky items such as flat-pack furniture or even a bicycle and the door aperture measures a full 150cm in width. The impression of space inside the car is boosted by the fitment of a full-length panoramic glass roof. There's also a child observation mirror fitted, which was useful for telling me that I was about to punch the bar end of my mountain bike through said panoramic glass roof if I used the brake pedal with any more gusto.
Under the stubby bonnet is shoehorned a fairly hefty 1.6-litre TDCi diesel engine that's good for a rather underwhelming 95PS. Before I disappear into despair at the thought of driving an MPV that can't get out of its own way, I was reminded that due to the car's transient overboost facility, it could deliver up to 215Nm of torque. This actually gives it a fairly brisk pickup in the midrange, although you do have to dial a few revs up onto the board when pulling away from a standstill. The stats say that it gets to 62mph in 13.9 seconds and runs out of steam at a modest 107mph but, to be honest, I haven't worked up the enthusiasm to try to verify these numbers. The five-speed manual transmission offers a crisp action and the electrically-assisted steering is well-weighted and endowed with a bit more feel than I anticipated. It sounds like I'm damning this car with faint praise, doesn't it? That's not intentional. As I said earlier, it feels as if this model will prove to be something the road test team will warm to without providing too much of an instant hit. In the meantime, I still haven't grown bored of reminding our road tester that the B-MAX has more torque up its sleeve than his Toyota GT-86. In the meantime, we'll put a few miles on the clock and see how the little Ford settles in.
Facts at a Glance
FACTS AT A GLANCE CAR: Ford B-MAX 1.6 TDCi Titanium X PRICE: £19,095 INSURANCE GROUP: 11E CO2 EMISSIONS: 104g/km PERFORMANCE: 0-60mph 13.9s / Max Speed 107mph FUEL CONSUMPTION: (combined) 70.6mpg STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: ESP, ABS, twin front & side airbags WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height mm 4077/1751/1604mm WHO TO SEE: September 17th 2014