Of the engines we've tried in the C-Max, our favourite is the 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel. It has all the strength you need, even when you're loaded up with passengers and luggage. It's so good, it renders the stronger 2.0-litre diesels a little redundant. The petrol options include two turbocharged 1.0-litre engines, but we haven't tried these yet.
The steering is light enough to make low-speed manoeuvres a doddle, but it’s also quick and precise at speed. Strong grip and minimal body lean add to the C-Max’s agile feel, and the ride is impressively settled on the motorway. The car can thump a bit over urban potholes, but it quickly recovers its composure.
Some wind noise builds up around the door mirrors and windscreen pillars at motorway speeds, but road noise is rarely an issue. The 1.6-litre Ecoboost engine is impressively refined at a steady cruise, too, although there’s a bit of boom if you leave it in too low a gear. A slick six-speed manual gearbox is standard with the Ecoboost and 2.0-litre diesel, but the other engines make do with a five-speed unit.
Prices are no better than average for the compact MPV class, and some engines are offered with the range-topping trim only. Still, the C-Max should be cheap to run. The 1.6-litre diesel averages 61mpg and attracts a lowly company car tax rating. The 1.0-litre petrols also impress.
The upper dashboard is made from dense, soft-touch plastics, while metal and piano black detailing add to the cabin’s classy feel. However, Ford finished only 16th out of 27 manufacturers in the 2012 JD Power customer satisfaction survey, and owners of the previous C-Max reported its reliability was only average.
The C-Max has a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating, and every model comes with electronic brakeforce distribution, stability control and front, side and curtain airbags, while a system that warns if a car is in your blindspot is available as an option. Deadlocks, marked parts and an alarm that’s been approved by insurance research body Thatcham provide protection against theft.
The C-Max gives you an elevated driving position and loads of seat- and steering wheel adjustment. However, thick windscreen pillars can obscure your view through bends and the rear screen is quite small. The rotary heater controls are simple to use, but some of the buttons for other systems are rather fiddly.
The five-seat C-Max is a tall car that’s just 140mm shorter than the seven-seat Grand model, so it’s hardly surprising that there’s loads of leg- and headroom inside. The boot is large and well shaped, too, and the rear seats can be tumbled forward or removed entirely. Sadly, they’re heavy to lift and the catches to unlock them are fiddly.
Even the cheaper Zetec cars come with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, Bluetooth, a heated windscreen and a digital radio. Upgrading to Titanium trim adds a premium Sony stereo, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control, climate control and keyless start. Titanium X adds a powered driver's seat.
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