The Ford B-Max is the brand's all-new super practical family vehicle and we drove it in Johannesburg. Most male readers will have paused at some time or another to marvel at the modern-mom’s ability to simultaneously manage tasks such as shopping, baby care, business administration and the communication via a collar-bone-cradled smart phone with a vast circle of friends, while still managing to identify the latest bargains in a shop window 200m distant from the parking bay they recently secured.
But, as these multi-tasking goddesses will tell you, any appliance or design feature that can take some of the drudge out of their daily micro-and-macro-management schedules is something well worth a second or third glance. Suffice to say, the first time that a new Ford B-Max slides open its pair of rear doors, there is likely to be a quick Googling of the nearest Ford dealer to learn a lot more!
Ford B-Max Dimensions and PracticalityThe combined aperture for loading things like giant Woolworths packets and securing the baby in an ISOFIX seat in the B-Max is said to be 1.5 metres wide. What’s more, the rear seat design means that the 60/40 split enables both or just one of the rear seat back rests to be folded flat with a simple, one-hand, one-motion execution. You can also fold the front passenger seat back rest flat in the B-Max, effectively creating a giant, flat surface area within the car. There are a total of seven seat-folding combinations on offer.
For those concerned about whether the lack of a B-Pillar in the centre of the car induces a safety consideration, Ford says it simulated 5 000 side-impact crashes in the B-Max before going into production with its special locking mechanism and door-reinforcement design. In essence, the two inner edges of the front and rear doors, when locked into place, form a securely-locked high strength steel B-pillar. Some 58% of the body and door structures is made of high-strength steel to ensure that the mechanism is not only as strong as a car with a welded-in B-Pillar, but will also open and shut rattle-free for years to come.
What impressed me about the car was that despite a rather truncated rear-end design, the boot space with the seats upright still measures just under 400 litres, which is still quite large. So even with the sliding doors and folding seats, this is a useful multi-tasking shop-around.
Engine and EconomyA factor that will also appeal to the modern mom is the low fuel consumption. Ford’s one-litre EcoBoost turbocharged three-cylinder engine has an official rating of 4.9L/100km in the base 74 kW Ambiente model , and only slightly more in the potent 92 kW form, as used in the Trend version and the range-topping Titanium model we sampled at this week’s launch.
Forget about obtaining these theoretical consumption figures. They are there to provide an industry standard, measured in tests conducted in a theoretical way, and should never be mistaken for real-world driving. Figure on petrol consumption of around 7L/100km in careful driving, less if the car is to be used on freeways extensively.
The power of the little one-litre turbo is more than adequate for a five-seater run-about, and although we didn’t drive the 74 kW model, its torque of 170 Nm is shared with the 92 kW engine, and should prove equally proficient. Interestingly, Ford only offer the B-Max at present in five-speed manual form, and the engine buzzes away so unobtrusively up front that it sometimes easy to forget to change up into top gear on the freeway, if your mind is on other matters.
FeaturesThe interior ambiance is most pleasing with soft-touch dash and door cappings and, on the range-topping Titanium model, leather upholstery makes for a smart environment.
Handy for “kid-watching” in the rear seats is a wide-angle mirror for the front-seat passenger. On the top Titanium-spec model here are also some neat touches such as keyless entry, a rear-view camera for parking, and a Sony Audio system. The Ford SYNC connectivity interface provides multiple functions for “hooking up” with other portable communication and entertainment devices.