There are three things that usually guarantee the popularity of a long termer on our fleet and they are, in no particular order, practicality, reliability and, because we are a bunch of closet tightwads, fuel economy. I still remember our road test editor catching the train to work because he couldn't stomach pouring any more petrol down the neck of a Land Rover Discovery V8. It usually means that the glamour cars that we've run often lose their lustre surprisingly early whereas more humdrum fare like diesel MPVs and estate cars are in constant demand. Therefore it won't surprise you to learn that there are some nefarious tactics afoot to land the keys to our Ford B-MAX come Friday afternoon. Okay, so it's not the car to pull up to outside a fancy restaurant and have people thinking you're a lottery winner, Premiership footballer, Russian oligarch but it's a car that just seems to be able to cover a whole lot of bases. We introduced you to the car in our last instalment and in case you missed that, we've landed ourselves a Nautical Blue 1.6 TDCi diesel with a five speed manual box. It gets to 62mph in 13.9 seconds, packs 95PS under its stubby bonnet, measures a mere 4060mm from stem to stern, and can be yours for the princely sum of £19,195. Yes, that is more than a Fiesta ST, but lets stick to comparing like with like. So how's it fared in terms of practicality? Mostly well, really. Those of the test team with kids love the thing, largely because without a pillar in the middle, fitting and unhitching child seats is absolute simplicity. Then there's the added benefit of not having to wince every time the kids clang someone's door in a multi-storey car park because the sliding doors allow you to slot the B-MAX into narrow bays without concern.
The downside of this setup is that the sightlines out of the car aren't particularly great. In some cars you can lose a pedestrian behind the pillars, in others you can fit a cyclist fairly easily into the blind spot. In the B-MAX I reckon you could get blindsided by a taxiing A380 so big are the blind spots at both the B-pillars and the A-pillars. You get used to it after a while and have to take added care but I'm a big fan of avoiding an accident in the first place rather than having a car that can withstand a big biff. Is this really progress? Fuel economy has proven pretty good. We've averaged 54mpg which is about 76 per cent of Ford's 70.6mpg claimed figure. That's a whole heap better than the 1.0-litre B-MAX we tried which averaged 38mpg, just 66 per cent of the manufacturer's claim. It's also worth noting that our 54mpg figure has included some performance testing, several heavily laden trips to the tip, lots of schlepping through city traffic and even a full-speed run around the banked track at Millbrook test facility. We reached 109mph there against Ford's published top speed of 107mph, so it's good to know the Blue Oval isn't a serial overclaimer. The engine felt a little tight when we first took delivery, but has become a bit more supple with a few miles under its belt. Everyone loves the easy Bluetooth hookup from phone to car and the sound quality isn't bad when streaming music. The standard speakers could use a little more heft but then they were being subjected to Pharrell Williams at quite inadvisable volume. All told, we're getting quite attached to the B-MAX. It's not an instant hit, more of a slow burn in fact, but it's a car that is easy to make room for in your life. Cars like this usually struggle for sales. Perhaps we can give this unassuming MPV its moment in the sun.