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Click to view road test review picture gallery“Welcome to the
  House of Max as Ford
  smartens up its C-Max
  compact MPV, making
  the sharper-styled
  new model a people-
  mover of Distinction...”

IT STARTED WITH THE INTER-NATIONAL CAR OF THE YEAR 2007 — the S-Max Sports MPV — and continued with the launch this year of the all-new Mondeo. And now, the new and more dynamic 'sharper' face of Ford is carried into the C-Max, the Blue Oval's versatile five-seater compact MPV.

The original C-Max was launched in 2003 and carried the name of 'Focus C-Max' — being a member of the Focus C-segment family.
Now, in 2007, the Focus name has been dropped and the C-Max is
a model range in its own right, and paired with the S-Max to create Ford's 'Max' family of stylish, flexible and sporty people-movers.

The better quality and sharper styling is all part of Ford's plan to create more desirable, better quality cars that customers feel proud
to own and which are not bought just because of their affordable price.

While the five-door C-Max still uses the excellent Focus as its core vehicle, the improved quality and specification, sharper styling, better driving position, superior ride comfort and revised suspension set-up has effectively created a completely new vehicle.

Prices range from 12,995 up to 19,045, and there are four levels of specification to select from: Studio, Style, Zetec and Titanium. Extra-cost X-pack and Sport-pack add-ons are also available for various versions within the range. In addition, there is a wide range of other options such as a panoramic glass roof which does endow the C-Max with an especially light and airy feel. Be warned, however, because these 'extras' add considerably to the final cost of the car.

For instance, my test model was the C-Max 2.0 TDCi 136PS Titanium; the standard vehicle is priced at a competitive 18,745. However,
add in lots of desirable options such as DVD satellite navigation and uprated CD autochanger, electronic stability programme (which should be fitted as standard), heated front seats, the aforementioned panor-amic roof, Xenon headlights and the Sports pack (which includes large 18-inch alloy road wheels) and the C-Max, true to its name, ended up at a mighty 24,095. Too much, to my way of thinking, for a family carrier — unless it is a company car. That said, it is a tough market-place at present so expect any Ford dealer to sharpen their pencil and come up with a keener price.

So what is new about the renamed C-Max? It is still a C-segment, five-seater, five-door family car with Ford's 'flexible use' Comfort Seat System. This allows comfortable seating for three people in the second row or offers the unique ability to fold away the rear centre seat and allow the rear outer seats to converge diagonally and also move back to provide even more leg and shoulder room for two passengers! The luggage capacity, too, is seriously family-sized — 473-1,633 litres.

For maximum luggage carrying capacity, each of the three rear seats can be individually tipped, tumbled or completely removed. With all
the seats in position there is still a large load area at the rear which is easily accessed via the big rear tailgate. It is all very user-friendly, and that is the core point about vehicles such as the C-Max — good to look at, easy to live with and practical in use.

The exterior and interior details have also been improved, and the car features a completely redesigned front-end incorporating elements
of Ford of Europe's 'kinetic design'. In Ford-speak, this means the new design combines hard lines with muscular, flowing forms to represent
a feeling of energy in motion — even when the vehicle is stationary. First seen in the latest Galaxy and new S-MAX models, 'kinetic design' elements transform the face of new C-MAX, giving it a sporty and
more expressive character with enhanced emotional appeal.

All this is true — in real terms, the new C-Max looks a much better car. And it drives and performs much better as well.

Equally welcome, there is a full range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines ranging in capacity from 1.6 to 2.0-litres. All will have their plus points — price versus power — depending on the exact needs
of a family but my suggestion is to go for the 6-speed 2.0-litre 134bhp unit I tried. Its four-cylinder Duratorq TDCi intercooled turbodiesel delivers 236lb ft of torque from 2,000rpm which provides that extra refinement, response and flexibility needed for today's roads. Better still, it makes driving easy — and the 45.5mpg fuel consumption was impressive. For the record, it runs to 124mph and takes 9.6 seconds
to get to 62mph from standstill.

If I were buying the car for myself as family transport I wouldn't go for the Titanium level of specification or the extra cost Sport pack: it is too expensive. And while on the subject of 'cost options', I take issue with the fact that neither the rear parking sensors nor the proven
(and indispensable) safety system of electronic stability control come as standard.

Instead, check out the Zetec specification which still looks good and comes with alloy wheels. The Sports pack is also not really required, unless it is company money that is paying for the car. The large
18-inch wheels look great; but they don't improve road holding and
the ride comfort is firmer than is necessary for what is, after all, family transport. And as such, it will pull a braked trailer of up to 1,500kg.

Reasons to make sure the new C-Max is on your list include sharper styling, better quality, flexible interior passenger/load carrying com-binations and a better driving position. In addition, the revised model drives well — thanks to improved suspension settings and better road holding. The only grumble, as already mentioned, is the high cost of options and the fact that the electronic stability programme and rear parking sensors are not fitted as standard.

Overall the C-Max is a very smart, versatile package for family use. And because it's a totally sensible vehicle, be sensible yourself when
it comes to choosing the right model and the right specification at
the right price. — David Miles.

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Ford C-Max Titanium 2.0 TDCi 136PS | 18,745
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 9.6 seconds
Overall test MPG: 45.5mpg | Power: 260bhp | Torque: 236lb ft

CO2 154g/km | VED Band D 140 | Insurance group 10
Visit Ford's website Click to go there now

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