05 December 2013
The clue to this new Ford people carrier is in the name: Grand. Itís a stretched version of the standard C-Max, adding 140mm to the length, to fit in a third row of seats. This makes the Ford a rival, at last, for the likes of the Vauxhall Zafira and Volkswagen Touran while not treading on the toes of Fordís larger MPVs.
The Grand C-Max does without its five-seat sisterís entry point 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine as Ford deems this motor a little too weedy to pull a seven seater along. So, the beginning point for the engine line-up in the Grand C-Max is the 123bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, which does a decent but uninspiring job. Much better is the 148bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged Ecoboost engine that offers peppy performance and plenty of lugging power from low in the rev range. This comes as a bit of a surprise for a turbo petrol engine, but a pleasant one, and the Ecoboost offers 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds to the non-turbo petrolís lacklustre 12.3 seconds. The Ecoboost engine also comes with a six-speed manual gearbox to the less powerful petrolís five-speeder, which helps with acceleration and flexibility in town and on the motorway. Diesels are taken care of by a 113bhp 1.6-litre and a 2.0-litre 138bhp unit that can be had with manual or duel-clutch Powershift transmissions. The 1.6 diesel only comes with an accurate six-speed manual and gets our vote as the better engine for its smoothness and punchy performance, even though it manages 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds compared to the faster 2.0-litreís 10.1 seconds. Unless you carry seven people or lots of luggage regularly, the 1.6 diesel is the better bet.
The extra 140mm in the length of the Grand C-Max is all in the wheelbase compared to the standard C-Max, so this helps the Grand smooth out some of the urban potholes that can catch out the five-seater. On all types of road, the Grand has a plush ride and ample refinement for long holiday drives to be relaxed and comfortable. Thereís a little wind noise at motorway speeds from the door mirrors, but nothing excessive. The Ecoboost petrol engine is notable for its quiet manners, even though it can be asked to do a lot of work for a small capacity motor. As youíd expect with a Ford, the Grand C-Max handles corners with an almost nonchalant ease thanks to precise steering with good weight and lots of feel at all speeds, consistently high levels of grip and not much body lean. Overall, the Grand C-Max is the pick of its class for any driver who enjoys the process of piloting a car.
Ford has worked hard to make the Grand C-Max every bit as tough, durable and high grade as it rivals. Itís work that has paid off as the C-Max is well put together and lots of soft-touch materials give it that upper segment feel. Our only slight concern is Ford has languished too near the bottom of the JD Power Satisfaction Survey for us to give the Grand C-Max a full five-star rating just yet. However, the engines, transmissions and the rest of the mechanical parts look set to be tough and reliable, so this score should be easily upgraded.
The seven-seat Grand C-Max comes with six airbags, with driver, passenger and side airbags as usual and with curtain íbags that extend the full length of the cabin to protect those in the third row of seats. Thereís also ESP traction and stability control and ABS anti-lock brakes with brake force distribution. An alarm, immobiliser and deadlocks are standard across the C-Max range and should see thieves moving on to a softer target very quickly.
The whole point of the Grand C-Max is to offer more space and versatility than the standard five-seat model. In this, the Grand does not just succeed, but exceeds its brief thanks to sliding side rear doors. These make access to the middle and third row seats very easy and also help when loading up the kids in crowded car parks. The large tailgate opens to reveal the fold-up third row seats, though it can take a few attempts before mastering the action needed to erect these seats in one easy move. Stow them away and thereís a huge boot space that can be furthered added to by folding the middle seats flat into the floor. Folding just the centre middle row seat is achieved by flipping it under the right-hand seat base, which is unusual but works well. All of the rear seats in the Grand C-Max offer good space, though as with its rivals the third row is best reserved for children or short hop journeys. Up front, the C-Max has a raised driving position for a great view all-round, though thick pillars can make it awkward when pulling out of junctions at an angle. Otherwise, the new C-Maxís dash is uncluttered, stylish and a doddle to navigate your way round, while the driver is also afforded loads of seat and steering wheel adjustment to find the ideal driving position.
The Grand C-Max is new territory for Ford, but we have no concerns over its long term residual values, which should easily match those of its rivals from Vauxhall or Volkswagen. Itís a sound choice as a family car, which will also help bolster values. The engines are decently frugal, with both the 1.6 non-turbo petrol and Ecoboost engines offering 40.9mpg and 159g/km. Go for the 1.6 turbodiesel and youíll enjoy 57.7mpg average economy and 129g/km emissions, while the 2.0-litre diesel manages 53.3mpg and 139g/km. Two trim levels are on offer, starting with the Zetec that comes with air conditioning, electric front windows, CD stereo, USB connectivity with voice control, alloy wheels and rear parking sensors. The Titanium adds cruise control, electric rear windows and larger alloy wheels.
Submitted: 18/01/2011 10:46:40
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