THE small MPV segment isn’t exactly the biggest passenger-car segment locally however, recently, there have been a few new introductions such as the Honda Mobilio, Suzuki Ertiga and of course the refreshed Toyota Avanza. Ford has entered the segment now too with its B-Max, which, as I discovered, competes in a segment both below and above itself.
This segment isn’t really known to set people’s hearts aflame with striking good looks. The B-Max looks like a stretched Fiesta, which it is, sharing its platform and several components with its hatchback sibling.
Expect a slightly smaller front grille, familiar headlamp design and a high roof line. At the rear there’s a large window, broad tailgate and stylised tail lamps.
The interior, as mentioned, looks very similar to that seen in the Fiesta with a centre console festooned with buttons, the same steering wheel (albeit with a thicker rim) and a new-look digital climate control system in the higher-specified models.
Access to the interior is really this car’s party piece with sliding doors and an integrated C-pillar, which necessitated some engineering to ensure structural integrity, although the car still maintains afive-star Euro NCAP safety rating. The sliding mechanism means that with the front and rear doors open you get a 1.5-metre aperture for the loading and unloading of items, such as children and shopping.
One engine, one gearbox
Until Ford has sussed out the local market it will only offer one engine and one transmission option. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost motor will do duty in the B-Max for now with two output options. The base model Ambiente gets 74kW/170Nm and will consume 5.1 litres/100km.
The Trend and Titanium variants get the full-fat 92kW/170Nm version and consume 4.9 litres/100km. All models come with a five-speed manual gearbox which, after driving the car, seems to match the little motor better than the six-speed. The car is crying out for an automatic gearbox, though.
The B-Max models all come with the Sync infotainment system, which is becoming a bit clumsy now however, it does get voice control, Bluetooth, AUX and USB compatibility. The lower-specAmbiente gets manual air conditioning, seven airbags, six-speaker sound and 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.
Walk up a spec grade and the Trend gets cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, fog lights and a trip computer. The top-of-the-range Titanium models get heated leather seats, keyless access, automatic climate control, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlamp activation, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, front parking sensors and a full-length panoramic roof.
How does it stack up?
This car appears to be competing with a few different models. Ford mentioned the Toyota Avanza and that of course means that the Ertiga and Mobilio must be counted too. However, it feels more premium and is priced above the trio and might find itself against its own cousin, the EcoSport, while the bigger, more expensive MPV Volkswagen Golf SV can also be considered. The B-Max strikes agood balance between specification, pricing and versatility.