Thursday, 2 July 2015

Ford C-Max review (includes the infamous Test Drive Dummy footage)

FORD C-MAX 2015 - REVIEW

PROS
Economical, comfortable, family friendly, with good safety features.
CONS
C-Max (five-seater) is unable to sit three car seats in a row, and the Grand C-Max, 
(seven-seater) sits four car seats, but leaves little boot space.

Back in 2012, MadeForMums tested the then new Ford B-Max and found it to be an eerily 
futuristic ride. So much so, we were left wondering what on earth could possibly come next? 

Hello the C-Max range, and the recent launch of which, proved Ford are still heading 
up technological advancement.

Make no mistake, as the 2015 offerings are unveiled, MadeForMums found themselves going 
back to the future and a ‘Look mum, no hands’ experience.

The new five-seat C-Max (and seven-seat Grand C-Max with sliding doors), are designed 
with families in mind, making day-to-day living easier - and safer with hand-free tech 
and numerous smart driver assistance features. But a few years on, would the new car prove 
to be a help or a hindrance when put to the test?


Having been invited by Ford to test drive the C-Max and to check out the Grand C-Max, I was just a little bit excited to learn it was in Mallorca. And then of course just a little bit nervous as I immediately sat behind the wheel of a brand new left hand drive car, to be let loose onto Spanish motorway at the touch of a button.

Having previously worked as a nanny all over the world, I was once used to driving on the right wrong side of the road, but it has been a while, and hey, I'm only human. Fortunately for me, the new Ford C-Max appears to be relatively human too, and can be relied upon for all sorts of futuristic technological safety features, such as keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

Leading the way toward autonomous vehicles, Ford also led me toward lunch. I drove for 45 minutes on gorgeous shiny 16” alloys, following touch screen navigation - part of the very easy to use in-built SYNC 2 connectivity system.

This is available for the first time on the 2015 C-Max, and not only means the dash is simplified, but also means you can sync smartphones, access apps and control many of the car’s minor functions by spoken command. Ask and you will receive. For example, if you want food, tell it you’re hungry, and then converse about what and where to eat before the car takes you to dinner. (No sadly, it won’t pay too). Or, say your children want to sing along to Disney, all at once Aladdin’s genie appears – simply plug in your MP3 or phone into the USBs provided.

Understandably, before long I’d relaxed and was able to enjoy driving through the beautiful Balearic island of Mallorca, complete with spring flowers, blue skies, and mountainous backdrop.

The route had been carefully chosen to demonstrate that the C-Max handles brilliantly and is an incredibly fun car to drive. Steering is sharp and the car grips the road well.

The engine (the same as a Ford Focus) is poky with power, but don’t worry if you’re afraid of tipping the upper end of the speed limit – the dash tracks this for you, letting you see it wherever you are.

Spacious and comfortable, the ride is smooth and quiet – something that was criticised in the last model, and has since been updated.

The styling is also modified; exterior and interior. I loved learning that Ford’s new designs started life on a mood board –fashion conscious or what – and something which came as no surprise to me after meeting the woman responsible: Serife Celebi, the enthusiastic Ford of Europe’s Manager for Colour and Material Design, and someone that together with Ford is setting trends, but practical ones that are suitable for MPVs with families onboard. 


Clearly, Ford has put a lot of thought into the making of their new range, and it would appear that they really do adhere to their motto, and go further. How? The car has empathy: Even pregnant women have been thought about in the design of this family car… here's fellow journalist Duncan from UKMums.tv, putting the pregnancy suit to the test!



Other new family friendly features on the C-Max include the wonderfully marvellous invention MyKey. This means the car recognises you are near, and unlocks itself even with your key at the bottom of your bag.

Then there is the Hands-Free Tailgate technology, enabling you to access the boot space with your arms full, using a gentle kicking motion under the rear bumper to open the tailgate. For anybody carrying anything this is useful, but for mums and dads loaded with babies, bags and buggies, this is a brilliant addition.

Having test-driven the C-Max and tried the Sync 2 connectivity, the following day was mainly about drive assistance.

Active Park Assist technology scans the roadside for suitably sized parking spaces and reverses the car into them, performing both parallel and perpendicular parking without the driver having to touch the steering wheel. Surely this will be a real help to many mums and dads who have the constant distraction of children in the back, and when trying to reverse park, can often find themselves in a tight spot?

Or will it? I have to say it didn’t help me, To see how I coped crashed, watch this video.


video

You may well smile, but at the time, I was mortified. It didn’t help that there were two other journalists in the back and the top Ford engineer in the front, and, that I was being filmed, and, that there was a prize for whoever parked the fastest. Okay, sometimes drivers get distracted. But also, having just done a challenge (watch this videowhere I was relying on the car to actively brake when driving at a wall, I was thinking the car would also brake for me when reverse parking too. Ahem.

video


Should you have a serious accident in the C-Max, the safety system can connect to emergency services. But the new C-Max Active City Stop and Active Braking systems support the driver by scanning the road ahead and automatically applying the brakes to reduce the impact of collisions, or avoid them altogether.

Such genial tech is all well and good, but as a mum myself, one of the most simple yet useful features of the C-Max that I thought smart, were the integrated window blinds. How helpful are they compared to stick on ones? Protect your little tots in their car seats with immediate shade as and when required; making for a more comfortable journey for all concerned.

Incidentally, the C-Max offers practical solutions to help keep precious cargo safely strapped in. The ‘i-Size’ mounting points in the C-Max range are compatible with the latest ISOFIX child seats that offer improved protection during side and front impacts.

Being a leader in i-Size implementation, Ford worked actively with the rulemaking bodies on the i-Size regulations ECE-14 and ECE-129, and were the first to launch an i-Size compliant vehicle - the (Ford EcoSport). All good to know.

Other great safety aspects are a dashboard alert that indicates if a seatbelt is undone, and fish-eye rear view mirror that helps drivers to keep an eye on rear passengers. A dog guard ensures pets stay in the good size boot area where they are less likely to cause distraction.


While I’m on the subject of the boot area, the space within the C-Max is good. But people, let’s talk car seats - if you have one or two, fine. More however, and you’ll require the seven-seat Grand C-Max, which holds up to four.

Here’s how that works. The changeable interior of the Grand, means you can fold away the middle seat of the second row (too small to take its own car seat), revealing entry to the two rearmost seats. This all switches easily. Annoyingly though, when in seven seat mode, you lose most of your boot space.


If you do want three car seats together across the second row, you’ll need to upgrade to the bigger Ford S-Max.

Ford’s range clearly allows the purchaser to choose a combination that works for individual family needs, driving preferences and budget.

How much will the C-Max cost? They vary. You can buy the basic model for £18,195 and the top model for £26,145. There are petrol and diesel options available and a range of transmission types that include 5/6 speed manual gearbox and the DPS6 powershift - automatic.

The engine is powerful and responsive, but is cheaper to run than previous models, with higher fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions; heading in the right direction regarding planet and parent.

Lastly, will this car have a good resale value? Ford tell me, it will. £650 better than the previous C-Max.

LIFE AS IT IS VERDICT
Great fun to drive, reasonably cheap to run, safe and intelligent, the new Ford C-Max is, if not a little lunch box like to look at, in every other way, a practical and comfortable MPV. The tech side however, not surprisingly leaves me a little uncomfortable.

On the whole it is intuitive, simple to understand and easy to operate, but there are so many clever features, I think you would need to be very familiar with the handbook, or better still, have a Ford representative teach you everything there is to know about the car before you drive it.

However, one thought I had is that if Ford carry on delivering such technical ability within their vehicles, before long, you won’t need know how to drive, because let’s face it; a car like this will soon be able to drive its occupants by itself. And when that happens, Ford will surely have gone further than any one of us dared dream possible. Look out. It’s coming.



For more info including a typical payment plan, 

This review first featured on the MFM website in June 2015 - although that video sadly did not!