New Ford B-Max MAV has wide appeal
The appeal of Ford's new multi-activity vehicle (MAV), the B-MAX is, as Declan O'Byrne discovered in Munich last week, an open and shut case
It must be unusual for a presentation - or, indeed a review - of any new vehicle to concentrate, on of all things, its doors.
After all they're a bit like arms and legs on us humans. We all have them and, normally, they're not in the least 'remarkable'.
No doubting, of course, that like limbs, doors are handy. Mostly for getting in and out of places. And keeping out draughts. That sort of thing. But, after that, you hardly give them a second thought. We can take them or leave them and most of the time hardly notice them.
Unless, of course, you catch your finger in one. In such circumstances they're likely to get undue attention and a deserved kicking or tongue-lashing for being bloody dangerous.
Not the doors on the new Ford B-MAX, though.
They're ultra-sensitive. Even if, for example, you unwittingly leave the fuel flap ajar after a fill-up, the sliding door on that side of the car won't demolish it as it glides open. Instead, on contact, it will come to an abrupt halt avoiding damage, saving the fuel filler cover, and your blushes.
That's all thanks to the ingenuity of Ford engineers who have christened the system Easy Access Door System. Well, what else?
Ok. So no marks for catchy labelling but plenty of kudos for their achievement, in this impressive new offering, in successfully marrying innovation to immense practicality.
Without getting all technical, the door system features conventional hinged front doors and rear sliding doors all accommodated in a new body design which integrates the central body pillars.
In other words, with both sliding doors open there's no so-called 'B pillar' so you're left with a gaping hole in the middle of the car, 1.5 metres wide to be precise, which makes it absolutely ideal to access or exit from the rear seats, or settle the kids in their own seats without having to demonstrate the skills of a contortionist.
Crucially for families at whom the car is being targeted and for whom the cleverly configured B-MAX is likely to hold particular appeal, its design makes the chore of loading or unloading the shopping an eminently achievable and painless one. And, unusually, for a MAV, it has a boot!
For similar reasons, the car will also hold considerable appeal for those with restricted or impaired mobility. But its attributes don't end there.
It's not bad to look at either and, given full specification, it's packed with some of the most advanced automotive technology in Europe.
Built on Ford's global B-platform it shares with the new generation Fiesta, it will be offered here in two versions, B-MAX and B-MAX Titanium.
Although specification has not yet been cast in stone ahead of the car's arrival here towards the end of the year, it's expected to feature 15-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, fold-flat passenger and rear seats, torque vectoring control, ESP and remote central locking.
The higher Titanium spec includes alloy wheels, fog lights, LED daytime running lights, heated windscreen and a child observation mirror.
There will be a choice of four engines, Ford's marvellous 1-litre EcoBoost petrol, with 100PS in Band A for road tax; a 1.4 90PS petrol, Band B, on to a new 1.5-litre 75PS TDCi diesel Band A which is expected to be the most popular choice here, and finally, to a top of the range 1.6 105PS automatic which will slot into Band C.
Like specification, exact pricing has not yet been defined but the B-MAX will go on to forecourts here beginning with a €19,170 tag and will constitute formidable competition for the likes of the popular Jazz and Meriva in particular.
A Cork Independent first drive of the car in Bavaria last week once again confirmed the terrific agility of the 1-litre EcoBoost powertrain and of a 1.6 manual diesel which, like the Focus and most other Ford offerings these days, evoked solid driving pleasure.
The roomy B-MAX cabin is well laid-out, well finished and comfortable and, depending on the level of specification Ford decides upon for the Irish market, it could well constitute a technological hub featuring the company's SYNC voice control, device integration and connectivity interface.
Simply put, this allows users to connect mobile phones and music players by Bluetooth or USB, make hands-free telephone calls and control music and other functions using voice commands.
And there's more... the system can automatically transfer contact information from a connected Bluetooth device to the vehicle, allow calls to contacts to be activated using voice commands and, wait for it, can read aloud text messages from compatible phones.
In addition, it also has the capability to employ a new Emergency Assistance feature. This allows the occupants of the car to call local emergency services in the event of an accident. If, for example, you're on holiday in Europe, the system will make the call in the language of the country you are passing through.
Somewhat controversially, neither Ford's collision avoidance system nor Stop/Start will be standard features on the entry-level B-MAX while there was no mention either of an integrated - or indeed any - sat-nav system or facility.
In addition, one passage in the company's promotional literature, referred, jarringly, to the B-MAX as a 'city car'. That somewhat undersells it. It is, of course, a likeable run-around, but as our test drive through busy urban areas and stretches of raceway autobahns last week proved, the car can also be regarded as a speedy and capable cruiser.
So when you you add up all of its positive credentials, and factor in, too, the achievement of its designers in maintaining a combination of weight efficiency and decent fuel/mpg figures well into the mid 60s, it's hard not to see the B-MAX attracting a large and admiring following here.