First Drive

2015 Ford Grand C-Max review

Ford's Grand C-Max gets updated engines, a fresh face and more advanced safety kit to keep it competitive with rivals like the Renault Grand Scenic and Peugeot 5008

Words ByVicky Parrott

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The Ford Grand C-Max has always been an appealing prospect. After all, sliding doors and seven seats in a car that's only 16cm longer, and less than 1cm wider than a Focus sounds like the ideal transport solution for hectic family life.

For this Grand C-Max update, a new, more efficient engine range starts with the 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol - a three-cylinder, turbocharged engine in either 99bhp or 124bhp outputs - and continues with 1.5 and 2.0-litre diesels, the latter of which is available with a twin-clutch automatic gearbox.

Other changes include a revised interior and exterior, and improved optional safety aids to keep the Grand C-Max competitive with key rivals like the Renault Grand Scenic and Peugeot 5008.

What's the 2015 Ford Grand C-Max like inside?

The seat layout remains the same, which means you get a high-roofed forward cabin that will comfortably accommodate tall drivers, while the second row is made up of two full-size, sliding seats and a narrow middle section that makes for uncomfortable seating for a middle passenger.

However, this central section can be folded and hidden beneath the abutting seat base, leaving a narrow corridor to the third row, which consists of two occasional seats that are folded up out of the boot floor when you want them - an easy, one-handed movement.

These two boot-mounted seats are best saved for children, because adults will find their knees will be raised and pushed up against the seats in front, and headroom is a bit tight, too.

Provided you're not worried about squashing people in the third row, the two full-size seats in the middle row slide back a fair way and leave loads of room to lounge about in comfort.

With five seats in place, the boot is a square, 475-litre area that's barely any wider than you'd get in a standard Focus and a bit smaller than the boot in a Peugeot 5008, but it is deep and will take most bulky everyday items easily.

A low load lip and flat floor helps, too. There's very little luggage space with all seven seats in use, though.

An updated dash fascia taken from the Focus has also simplified matters for the driver thanks to the more minimalist switchgear layout. The 8.0in touchscreen pictured here is standard on mid-spec Titanium and up, and although you'll have to pay extra to add nav, this is the trim that we'd go for.

Entry-level Zetec gets the essentials including air-con and rear parking sensors, but Titanium adds climate control, automatic lights and wipers, and cruise control, and is much cheaper than top-spec Titanium X. You also have to go for Titanium or up to get this 2.0-litre diesel engine.

There's some useful (if optional) safety tech on offer, too, including active city stop for automatic emergency braking up to 31mph, blind-spot warning and automatic parking assist that steers the car for you into parallel or perpendicular spaces.

What's the 2015 Ford Grand C-Max like to drive?

We drove the 2.0-litre diesel, which delivers a really healthy mid-range punch that makes for easy overtaking, while it'll also hold low revs happily for relaxing town driving.

Ride and handling was always a strong point with the Grand C-Max, and it remains so now. Body lean is well controlled and the Grand C-Max feels responsive through corners, with steering that's well-weighted if overly keen to self-centre.

For all the appealingly light-footed handling, the suspension also irons out the worst of the bumps and ruts in the road to leave those in the cabin unperturbed, even over poor surfaces. A light gearshift and easily-modulated pedal response help make this an easy car to drive smoothly through traffic, too.

Road noise is now better than it was thanks to the addition of more cabin insulation, and the 2.0-litre diesel's gritty noise remains muffled unless you're accelerating hard. Wind noise is still really quite noticeable at motorway speeds, however.

Visibility is so-so; chunky pillars can obscure the view out onto some junctions, and there's a fairly big blind spot to the rear three-quarters that you need to be aware of.

Should I buy one?

If you're dead set on a 'small' seven-seater, then potentially, yes. The Grand C-Max is easy yet enjoyable to drive, has a versatile interior and offers competitive costs, particularly for company car buyers where it undercuts the tax costs of most key rivals.

Granted, it's not quite as spacious as a Peugeot 5008, but it ticks all the sensible boxes while still offering a spark of engagement.

Just be sure that you're not better off with a 'proper' seven-seater, such as a Citroen Grand C4 Picasso or even the new Ford S-Max, as these are much more spacious and could feel like a lot more car for what could be not much more money - particularly if you're buying as a company car or on finance.

What Car? says...

Rivals:

Peugeot 5008

Renault Grand Scenic

Ford Grand C-Max 2.0 TDCi 150 Titanium

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from Β£24,495

Power 148bhp

Torque 295lb ft

0-62mph 9.8 seconds

Top speed 125mph

Fuel economy 61.0mpg

CO2 119g/km