The B-Max is available with four petrol engines - three-cylinder 1.0 Ecoboost units with 99- or 118bhp, and four-cylinder 1.4 or 1.6 units. There are 1.5 and 1.6 diesel options, too. The higher-powered 1.0 engine provides perky performance, but you feel a touch of turbo lag if you don't get your gearshifts right. The 1.4 petrol is needs working fairly very hard, but the 1.6 diesel is strong.
The B-Max is a high-sided MPV, so there is some body lean through corners, but the car doesn’t flop over onto its door handles like you might expect. However, sporty handling probably isn’t your primary concern if you’re in the market for an MPV; you’re far more likely to want a car that keeps you and your family comfortable, and the B-Max doesn’t do that as well as it should. It thumps a bit too much over potholes and never completely settles even on the motorway.
The B-Max does a decent job of keeping wind and road noise to a minimum. The gearshift and clutch have a slick, well-weighted quality that adds to the B-Max's grown-up feel, too. However, the 1.0 Ecoboost engines send a bit too much vibration thought the steering wheel and pedals under acceleration, and the rasping three-cylinder exhaust note won't be to all tastes, either. The 1.4 petrol 1.6 diesel are boomy, too, and the lack of a sixth gear means they rev excessively at motorway speeds.
Prices for the entry-level models look reasonable, but the models that you’d actually want to buy look pretty steep compared with the competition. Discounts are available, but they have to be weighed against the fact that the B-Max doesn’t hold its value particularly well. Running costs for most versions are reasonable - the 1.6 diesel has a claimed average of over 70mpg and both 1.0 Ecoboost versions claim more than 55mpg.
The B-max feels solid and most of the materials on the dash look the part, especially on the higher-spec versions that we've driven so far. It will be interesting to see if the B-Max follows the pattern set by the Fiesta, however, which features some decidedly cheaper finishes on the more affordable models. The Fiesta, on which the B-Max is based, achieved average marks for mechanical reliability in the latest JD Power survey.
The B-Max has extra strengthening in its doors and roof to make up for the absence of central pillars, and that helped it achieve a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating. Stability control is standard across the range, as are front, side, curtain and driver's knee airbags. Active City Stop is an affordable option for the top two trims - it uses sensors to detect if a collision is imminent and can brake the car accordingly.
The B-Max's driving position is spot-on, with loads of seat travel, plenty of support for your back, and two-way steering wheel adjustment. The funky-looking dashboard works pretty well, too, although it takes a bit of time to become familiar with the intricacies of the on-screen menus.
With no central door pillars, there's a 1.5-metre wide aperture when both doors are open. Access in tight spaces is made even easier by sliding rear doors. There's enough head- and legroom for four adults to sit in comfort, too. At 318 litres, the boot isn’t especially big, but there's an adjustable load floor. The rear seats fold completely flat to free up 1386 litres of space. The B-Max doesn’t have the individual sliding rear seats you get in some rivals, though.
Entry-level B-Max Studio models are fairly basic, but you get essentials including four electric windows, electric door mirrors and a stereo with DAB radio and aux-in socket. Mid-range Zetec is likely to be the big seller and it provides enough for most people, including alloy wheels, air conditioning, a heated windscreen, USB connectivity and Bluetooth. Top-spec Titanium models are plush, with climate control, cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers and heated front seats.
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