Ford B-MAX: First impressions

  • Gutsy engine and spacious interior impress
  • Accommodates a mountain bike with ease
  • Jury is out on comfort and interior trim though

I borrowed the keys to the B-MAX over the weekend to get to know our new long-termer a little better.

It’s now been subjected to a mix of motorway drudgery, bumpy B-roads and a spot of baggage handling - and it's taken it all in its stride.

On first acquaintance, the B-MAX makes a good impression. It’s a decent enough looking thing, with a few styling cues borrowed from the Fiesta (with which it also shares the majority of its underpinnings) and our Titanium-spec car sits on 16-inch alloy wheels.

Inside it’s not quite so alluring. Most of the interior fittings are familiar from the Fiesta, but feature some cheap-feeling materials. I’m not sure the interior as a whole feels quite special enough for a car that, as tested, costs more than £18,000.

Practicality is what the B-MAX is all about though, and those distinctive sliding doors really do work well. They feel well-engineered and are easily slid back along their runners to reveal a giant space when all four doors are open.

A comparatively short wheelbase for a people carrier (identical to the Fiesta at just under 2.5 metres) means rear knee room isn’t incredible, but that’s made up for by the fantastic ease of access.

The rear seats fold flat in a 60:40 split and the front passenger seat can fold flat too to help with carrying long items.That function came into its own when I needed to transport my mountain bike recently.

I expected to have to take the front wheel off, but by turning the handlebars it’s possible to slot the front wheel behind the driver’s seat while the left handlebar goes into the space created by the folded passenger seat.

On the road the B-MAX, quite naturally, isn’t anywhere as nimble as a Fiesta, despite offering plenty of grip. There’s lots of body roll when cornering and the elevated driving position, while providing a good view of the road ahead, can leave you feeling a little precarious on a twisty road.

While it’s not a car that feels entirely at home on a challenging country road, it’s still a much sharper and more able drive than the majority of small people carriers.

Our car’s not short of performance as it’s fitted with the most powerful engine option: the 118bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost petrol, which is a bit of a gem.

Despite its small size it has plenty of go and sounds quite distinctive too, with a slightly rough but characterful signature hum.

It’s a very flexible engine – you might expect it to be a little spiky given that it’s squeezing a lot of power from a small capacity, but apart from a completely acceptable amount of turbo lag low down its remarkably tractable and easy to drive.

Although the engine can feel a little rough at low revs it soon smooths out and cruises well on the motorway. The B-MAX’s ride can be a bit lumpy at times too, but it’s no deal-breaker.

More of a problem for me at the moment is that I just can’t seem to get comfortable in it. The rather firm driver’s seat doesn’t seem to offer much support no matter what position I put either it or the steering wheel in.

Maybe my colleagues will feel more at home in it, but for now the B-MAX is off to a solid start.

Ford B-MAX

B-MAX can swallow a mountain bike whole, front wheel and all

Ford B-MAX

Folding the passenger seat flat makes space for the handlebar

Total mileage: 4,620 miles

Average mpg: 33.2 mpg