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The Max factor with the Ford B-Max 1.0 EcoBoost


Almost all vehicles are at least vaguely similar within the parameters of their class and category.

But then along comes the very occasional car that almost makes you almost cry out with delight at its sheer cleverness and innovation - which, of course, is precisely what the little Ford B-Max does.

This machine's biggest drawcard and talking point, naturally, is its sliding rear doors allied to normal hinged front doors, and the total absence of a B- or central pillar, giving totally unobstructed access for passengers and cargo. This set-up looks a little odd at first glance, but you soon warm to it and the fact that with all doors open you have an aperture all of 1.5 metres wide.

Adding to the practicality of it all are 60:40 split rear seats that can be folded flat with one hand, while the front passenger seat can also be folded totally flat, making for a vast cargo area - as I experienced when I loaded up the the B-Max I had on test.

Much is also made of crash protection, and very cleverly the front and rear doors have been beefed up so as to allow the door frames to work together to absorb energy in side impacts.

Powering the whole show is Ford's award-winning one-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine making 92kW and 170Nm between 1,400 and 4,500rpm. That's enough to scurry this five-seater, five-speed manual machine from rest to 100km/h in a perfectly adequate 11.2 seconds, topping out at 180km/h. Fuel consumption is a claimed 4.9 litres per 100km in the combined cycle.

Tech abounds and includes FordSYNC voice control, device integration and connectivity interface, plus a decent enough Sony sound system, rear view camera, and rather good build and perceived quality considering it's a small and comparatively affordable car. Also present and correct is standard safety kit such as ABS with Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and Hill Launch Assist.

Now the model I had came in range-topping Titanium spec with a price tag of R274 900 - but the three-model line up does start with a slightly less powerful Ambiente model at R223,900. That includes a four-year/120,000km warranty, and a four-year/60,000km service plan.

A brilliant and exceptionally individual little car that's far from being a mere novelty item. I liked it. A lot.

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