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Ford B-Max 1.0 EcoBoost 100PS Zetec

Click to view picture gallery“The first of the new Ford B-Max
  compact people carrier or multi-
  activity models, with useful rear side
  sliding doors for very easy in/out
  access are already in the hands of
a 1,000 UK customers with 3,000
  more already ordered out of an
  annual UK
16,000 sales target...

PRICED FROM AN ATTRACTIVE 12,900 to a not-quite-so-appealing 18,895, the clever B-Max is based on the Fiesta platform and replaces the previous Fusion mini-MPV.

In addition to the normal array of 1.4 and 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, the B-Max range also uses the award-winning new-generation 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with two levels of power output: the best selling 98bhp (100PS) unit, and a 118bhp version.

Depending on which engine is chosen, trim-wise you have the choice of the entry-level Studio, the best-selling Zetec or the top-spec Titanium. For those motorists who prefer an automatic transmission, one is available with the 103bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine.

“This new design
allows for wide (1.5m)
hassle-free access
through the side doors —
and it’s great
for loading people or
long items
The main feature of this new model is the easy-in, easy-out four-door system that sees the B-Max's hinged front door and sliding rear side door combination doing away with the conventional fixed B-pillar essential between front and rear hinged doors.

This new design allows for wide (1.5m) hassle-free access through the side doors — and it's great for loading people or long items.

By comparison a conventional B-segment car has door openings of 700-800mm wide — only half of what the B-Max offers. And supported by the wide-opening rear tailgate, it makes an ideal vehicle
for both young adventurers and older empty-nesters — and it also does a fine job as a family bus.

The rear sliding doors make getting in or out of the vehicle, particularly in today's cramped side-by-side parking spaces, very easy. And with the upright, higher positioned seats, loading children is also less trouble; and people with mobility issues will also find it much easier to get in and out. With a relatively low waistline and a high roofline, the windows are deep so visibility from inside the vehicle is first class in all directions.

With supportive seating for four adults (or two adults and up to three children) there's 318 litres of boot space; fold down the rear seats and you have a completely flat load floor
and a loadbay capable of taking 1,386 litres. At the other end of the cabin, fold down the front passenger seat and you have 2.3 metres for carrying long items.

A lack of B-pillars has not prevented the B-Max gaining the all-important NCAP five-star Euro NCAP safety rating because the frames of both doors and the interlocking sections of the B-pillars incorporated in the doors are all manufactured from high-strength steel.

Once the doors are locked in the closed position the torsional strength and integrity of the vehicle is preserved, and the handling remains as taut and as sharp as that of the Fiesta hatchbacks.

The only untidy detail of this design and its application is the flexible electric cable trunking leading from the main bodyshell of the car to the bottom of the sliding doors.

“The distinctive throaty-
sounding turboed
three-pot engine is
flexible at low speeds
and responsive to drive,
but in fact is not
really much quicker
than the cheaper-to-buy
four-cylinder 1.4-litre
petrol engine...”
This carries the electric cables for the windows and central door locking, and is exposed when the door is open. It looks a cheap solution and, potentially, might be snagged by feet or items being loaded or unloaded.

The front interior design and ergonomics of the instruments and controls are very much the same as the Fiesta.

Standard equipment for the base-level Studio version includes electrically-operated front and rear windows and door mirrors, central locking, radio/CD player, front, side and curtain airbags, 15-inch steel wheels with covers, Easy-Fuel capless refuelling function, daytime running lights, an electronic stability programme and ISOFIX child seat mounting points.

The Studio specification is only available with the 88bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine. It's a bit tardy for performance (top speed is 106mph; zero to 62mph takes 13.8 seconds) and, officially, it returns 47.1mpg —
only 39.3mpg on my 70mph motorway test drive.

With CO2 emissions of 139g/km, road tax is 120. But the big advantage of this 88bhp 1.4-litre B-Max is its purchase price:
a very attractive 12,995. For UK customers on a budget this model makes the most economical sense. The saving in purchase price this version offers can buy lots of fuel, and easily covers the more expensive road tax compared to the much publicised 1.0-litre petrol three-cylinder EcoBoost unit.

The B-Max with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost 98bhp petrol engine in Zetec spec is expected to be the best selling model, but it costs 16,195. Unfortunately this engine is not available with the cheaper Studio spec.

For the record, this EcoBoost unit officially returns 55.4mpg although my country roads test drive produced a real-life figure of 43.5mpg. The maximum speed is 109mph and zero to 62mph takes 13.2 seconds. Low CO2 emissions means road tax is 0 for the first year then only 30 for the second year onwards.

The distinctive throaty-sounding turboed three-pot engine is flexible at low speeds and responsive to drive, but in fact is not really much quicker than the cheaper-to-buy four-cylinder 1.4 petrol engine.

Zetec kit includes additions over the Studio level such as 15-inch alloy wheels, brightwork trim finishes inside and out, front fog lights, heated windscreen, AirCon, leather-wrapped steering wheel, extra interior lighting functions and a trip and fuel computer.

“Ford’s SYNC system for
Bluetooth and connecting
mobile phones and
music players also reads
text messages,
and in the event of an
accident automatically
connects to the
emergency services and
provides a GPS
Ford's SYNC system for Bluetooth and connecting mobile phones and music players also reads text messages, and in the event of an accident automatically connects to the emergency services and provides a GPs location. It's fitted as standard to the Titanium models, and is available for Studio and Zetec versions as a 250 option.

I also had a quick outing in the 93bhp 1.6-litre TDCi turbodiesel B-Max priced at 18,895 and only available with the top Titanium spec.

This model makes no financial sense for retail customers and only high-mileage business or fleet buyers might choose this version. Its CO2 emissions are 104g/km so first year road tax is 0 and then 20 each year after that. Officially this diesel unit will return 70.6mpg (only 51.3mpg on my test drive). Top speed is 108mph, and zero to 62mph takes 13.9 seconds.

Interestingly, the heavier the engines the better and less choppy the B-Max's ride was over our poor and rippled road surfaces. The lightweight 1.0-litre petrol unit was the least composed; the 1.4-litre petrol unit was better; and the 1.6-litre TDCi diesel better still.

It appears that unlike most other manufactures Ford, under their 'One Ford' global vehicle policy, do not make specification changes (such as suspension settings) for each country, so we get the 'Universal' settings which are clearly not ideal.

Against: No Studio spec option with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine make no financial sense for most retail customers, untidy wiring loom link from the main bodyshell to the sliding doors, top models expensive to buy, and suspension settings not tuned for UK roads

For: Good to drive, practical to use, easy loading and unloading of passengers and luggage, nimble handling, easy to park, good visibility.

Undoubtedly these compact B-Max people carriers offer a lot in terms of carrying people and load space. Available with a wide choice of engine options, today's financially hard pressed motorists must be clear on which version suits them best and, in particular, which best suits their motoring budget.

Sometimes less specification and a less technically advanced engine is more appropriate, so I would suggest the 1.4-litre petrol Studio version could be a better buy and, at 12,995, a bit of a bargain for some families. —
David Miles

Ford B-Max 1.0 EcoBoost 100PS Zetec | 16,195
Maximum speed: 109mph | 0-62mph: 13.2 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 43.5mpg
Power: 98bhp | Torque: 125lb ft | CO2 119g/km