Ford B-MAX Review

Find out more about the Ford B-MAX in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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3
Out of 5
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  • Pros
  • Good to drive
  • Practical interior layout
  • EcoBoost engine
  • Cons
  • Finish isn’t up to VW standard
  • Rear sliding door is heavy to close
  • Fuel efficiency not the best
  • MPG
    0 - 0
  • CO2
    0 - 0 g/km
Model Review

Brought in as a small MPV to rival models from Citroen and Vauxhall, the Ford B-MAX is built on the Fiesta’s base but has a taller body to make it both agile and practical at the same time.

With the wheelbase only 11cm longer than the Fiesta, it could be seen as a great MPV option for the urban and sub-urban driver and with the extra space and adaptable interior, families will like how the B-MAX can work for them. The absence of a B-pillar helps access to the rear section quite a lot and is quite an innovative design.

However, as the model has been out since 2012 the interior is beginning to look a bit dated, especially with the button-fest on the central console for the SYNC infotainment system and other features.

To help out on all roads, Ford can fit their range of safety systems such as active city stop, hill start assist and rear view camera, with other features like torque vectoring control and power-assisted steering also included.

Latest Model

Having not received a major update since the model’s release five years ago, Ford may be looking to give the small MPV a new lease of life.

It was, however, one of the first Ford models to come with the current styling ethos and that means it doesn’t look too out-of-date, as other cars do from that year.

Currently offered in three trim levels, the B-Max is also available with four engines – the EcoBoost petrol has two guises, there are two other petrol options and the diesel option has two.

Although the small MPV market is one that isn’t particularly exciting at the moment, those looking in it will find the Ford to be the one to watch as it takes a lot of inspiration from its Fiesta base and its practicality solutions from its bigger sibling, the C-MAX.

 

Value for money

The current base B-MAX model has a decent level of specification, with Zetec trim coming with satellite navigation, LED day running lights, front fog lights, manual air conditioning, leather steering wheel and gear knob and fold flat passenger seat.

Also coming with a DAB radio and Ford’s SYNC infotainment system – which can be quite tricky to get used to – the cheapest current B-MAX is well equipped, but can be quite expensive when compared to some of its rivals. The £16,145 starting price can easily be beaten by its sector rivals, so for a B-MAX at a more competitive price it may be worth looking on the used market.

A ’15 plate example of the B-MAX in top Titanium X trim is available for £12,295 and having only done 13,500 miles it is still in a good condition. Coming with a leather interior, heated front seats, climate control, Ford’s city pack – which includes rear parking sensors – and a panoramic roof, this B-MAX has plenty of great accessories that makes it practical and comfortable.

With other features such as folding rear seats, Bluetooth, active city stop braking system and rain sensitive wipers, a high-spec used example of the B-MAX could be a better option than a new one. Coming with the 123bhp 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, this used option also has performance on its side, which could be a factor when choosing between models.

 

Looks and image

Although the model is probably due a facelift, the B-MAX isn’t a displeasing car to look and is still a modern looking vehicle. As it has recognisable features that appear across the Ford range, such as the wide grille and the sharp lines starting at the front that continue along the whole body, it still stands out in the small MPV category.

With Fiesta-like proportions its higher standing gives it a more mature look and can be a good looking option when compared to other MPVs.

As it’s based on the spritely Fiesta the B-MAX is a fun MPV to drive, which you don’t hear very often. With the help of the torque vectoring system that improves grip through the corners and well-weighted steering, the B-MAX performs well through the corners and although there is the expected body roll from a high-sided car it performs well in most situations.

The ride is also surprisingly good as, even with the setup being on the firmer side, it handles bumps and poor surfaces well, although it can feel uncomfortable at slower speeds on rougher roads.

Even with the suspension on the harsher side, the B-MAX is still a comfortable vehicle to be in and live with. Thanks to supportive seats for all passengers – especially in the front – you will find that journeys are comfortable however long or far, however it can be a bit cramped in the back for three adults.

Thanks to Ford’s usual refinement, exterior and engine noise is kept to a minimum but the diesel options can sometimes send a grumble into the interior that could get tiresome.

Space and practicality

With 318 litres of boot space, the S-MAX has a smaller storage area than its rivals the Kia Venga (440 litres) and Citroen C3 Picasso (500 litres) but this can be extended to 1,386 litres with the flat-folding rear seats put down.

The front passenger seat can also be folded down so you can take advantage of the extended space and load items up to 2.35m long. Storage bins are also in the doors and behind the fronts seats.

Thanks to its sliding door and absence of a B-pillar, access to the rear is excellent and for fitting child seats, ISOFIX points are included across the seats in the back. The boot floor is variable and can be taken out completely to then use for extra storage. For family equipment the boot is well shaped and the lip is also at a good level to put things in.

In terms of safety, the B-MAX has a five-star rating from Euro NCAP and with airbags throughout the interior, the Ford is well-equipped for accidents if the need arises. Active city brake is also available but is a £200 option.

MPVs that are more up to date have more safety systems but the B-MAX can do a good job. Even without the B-pillar, the B-MAX does well in crash tests thanks to extra strengthening in the roof line and chassis.

 

Engines

Ford offers four petrol options and two diesel engines, with the petrol engines offering the better performance overall. Despite their fuel economy being much worse than diesel units, the B-MAX’s petrol options feel much more refined on the go, especially the EcoBoost units that come in 98bhp and 123bhp guises.

The only automatic in the range is paired with the 1.6-litre 103bhp petrol engine, however that returns the worst MPG and also produces the most CO2 per km. Both diesel units can return 74.3mpg, despite the power and performance difference, and can achieve below 100g/km CO2 so could be the best money saver for long distance users.

However, the refinement isn’t quite as good as with the EcoBoost petrol and both come recommended with the best overall feel and performance.

 

Running costs

As previously mentioned the diesel engines offer a much better fuel economy as both the 73bhp and 93bhp options are able to return 74.3mpg, while the best petrol – the 123bhp 1.0-litre EcoBoost with Auto Start/Stop – can only return an optimum 57.7mpg, clearly showing that if you’ll be travelling long distances regularly the diesels are best for you.

Slotting in between insurance groups 7 and 16, only the top-end EcoBoost models at the top of that range and for the rest of the models insurance costs are rather good. As the diesels produce less than 100g/km CO2, their road tax costs are reduced when compared to the petrol models.

For the diesels the first year will cost £120 and £140 every year thereafter, while the EcoBoost petrol units will cost £140 every year. The top emitting petrols both cost £200 in the first year and £140 from the second year onwards.

Things to look out for

Despite not being known for its reliability, the Ford brand has certainly improved over the years and now most models will perform well throughout their lifespan. As of yet the B-MAX is yet to suffer any major recalls or issues, which is due to make it a more attractive proposition than some of its competition.

 

Rivals

The small MPV market is one of the least crowded at the moment meaning the B-MAX doesn’t have too much competition to deal with. There’s Kia’s Venga, the Citroen C3 Picasso and the Vauxhall Meriva, which are cheaper than the Ford but don’t compete in terms of the final quality finish and refinement. The Kia and the Citroen do have more rear storage space but the Ford’s overall practicality is on an equal footing.

 

Depreciation warning

As it is based on the ever-popular Fiesta yet offers much more space, the B-MAX holds its value well on the used market and after three years can achieve between 40 and 50 per cent depending on condition and specification. This puts it ahead of its aforementioned rivals, which struggle to stay near the lower end of those residual values.

Trims Explained

The B-MAX is currently available in just three trim levels – Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X – and even from the base spec the model comes well equipped.

Zetec

In Zetec specification, Ford fits satellite navigation alongside the SYNC infotainment system and DAB radio, LED day running lights, front fog lights, leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear stick, electronic stability programme and adjustable load floor for the boot. As well as manual climate control, ambient lighting and trip computer, the B-MAX does well against its rivals when compared to their base models.

With a £16,145 starting price, it is a bit steep when compared to the rival competition.

Titanium

With the step up to Titanium trim comes with automatic climate control, cruise control, power-foldable door mirrors, lumbar driving seat support, auto headlamps and rain-sensitive wipers, which help to add a more premium feel to the Zetec model.

Priced at £17,945, it is a fair jump to this level above the base spec.

Titanium X

In the top level Titanium X trim, Ford adds 16-inch alloy wheels, panorama roof with sunblind, partial leather seats with heated front seats and rear privacy glass.

The £19,745 starting price is rather competitive when you consider what has been fitted in the previous two levels.

Summary

  1. Built for practicality
  2. Best small MPV to drive
  3. Limited trim levels
  4. Decent sell-on values
  5. Feeling a bit dated
  6. Economic EcoBoost and diesel engines
  7. Good trim levels, but limited options
  8. Reliable model
  9. Easily accessible with sliding doors
  10. Safe model