Ford C-Max review : Impressive MPV is fun to drive and practical


  • Great drive
  • Decent build quality
  • Lots of kit as standard


  • Low on space for five
  • Below par fuel economy
  • Rear seats tricky to fold

The Ford C-Max is one of the best cars in its class and is also surprisingly nice to drive for a family-focused people carrier. Before choosing the C-Max it’s worth taking a close look at some of the competition out there, not least the Citroen C4 Picasso, VW Touranand Renault Scenic are also worthy alternatives.

Prices start from £18,195/$27,293 and if you buy your new C-Max using carwow you can save £2,350/$3,525 on average.

Looking somewhat like a bulging family hatchback, the Ford C-Max actually offers bags of practicality and plentiful space for four adults. Carrying on with the theme, the driver of a C-Max could be forgiven for thinking they had actually purchased a Focus, were it not for the increased headroom. From the air vents to the dials and the switches, you will be very sure you’re in a Ford – though maybe slightly less sure which one.

The stand-out feature of the C-Max is the ride quality. Though a great drive is now expected from all Fords it is still a little surprising to have such a feel from a mid-sized multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). We tested the C-Max in 2015 and were impressed by its incredibly comfortable ride – when driving you feel very well isolated from any bumps in the road, making it ideal for keeping sleeping kids asleep on long journeys.

The engine line-up is quite broad and covers everything from a highly-advanced and lively 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol to a 2.0-litre diesel with bags of pulling power.

Ford has positioned the C-Max between the multi-award-winning Focus and its namesake big brother the Grand C-Max. The latter offering sliding rear doors and a larger, seven-seat interior for those that need it.

Available in three iterations, even the entry C-MAX Zetec offers 16-inch alloys wheels, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio and a heated front windscreen.

Cheapest to buy: 1.0-litre Zetec petrol

Cheapest to run: 1.5-litre Zetec diesel

Fastest model: 2.0-litre Titanium diesel

Most popular: 1.6-litre Zetec petrol


Not the most practical car in its class

The interior of the C-Max may, at first glance, seem fairly run-of-the-mill but there are some crafty extras that could stand to make it a family favourite. The vehicle is littered with cubbyholes and storage space. The roof, for instance, holds two compartments, one for your sunglasses and one for your backup sunglasses, presumably.

Then there’s the larger than average glovebox, the well-sized door bins, that will easily hold a one-litre bottle of water and the central storage bin. The latter of these also hides iPod and aux inputs, putting connected devices and their associated wires far out of view.

In a smart move Ford have added rear blinds as standard – no need for the Winnie The Pooh aftermarket version any more. Shame… Another child-friendly move is the addition of picnic trays to the rear of the front seats, it’s certainly not a new idea but that doesn’t mean it’s not downright useful.

As for the rest of the interior, the driver and front-seat passenger are treated to a solid and well-built finish, with touches such as voice-command and DAB digital radio.

The controls that you can’t control using the infotainment’s voice-command system are easy to find and use. Sit in the driver’s seat and you’ll see the C-Max’s dashboard stretches away in front of you, giving you a real sense of being cocooned in a safe car – just want you want to feel when you’re transporting your family.All C-Maxs come with Isofix child seat attachments as standard.

Ford C-Max passenger space

Thanks to its slightly bulbous roof, the C-Max offers great rear passenger head space. Likewise legroom is decent. The slight issue comes with the introduction of a fifth adult in the middle of the back row, and shoulders are bound to clash. However, leg space still fares quite well because there’s a flat floor in front of the back row of seats – there’s no central transmission tunnel to tangle legs over.

Ford C-Max boot space

The C-Max is, by no means, the class leader when it comes to boot space, in fact at 432 litres it’s about 200 litres short of the Citroen C4 Picasso. That said, the boot space is easy to access and a good shape. Because the rear seats are not adjustable, as is the case with other vehicles of a similar size, the best way to get extra space is to fold them forward – or follow the fiddly process of removal. Once folded or removed their absence leaves a slightly impracticable and uneven additional space.

It’s worth noting that the C-Max is available with a hands-free electric-opening boot – you can just wave your foot under the rear bumper to open the boot. We’ve tested it and it does require a bit of patience to find the right spot to swing your foot at – it’s often just easier to scrabble for the electric-boot opening button, even if you have your hands full.

Ford C-Max diesel engines

The fastest model is the 2.0-litre diesel. Coupled with the dynamism of the Ford chassis the 150hp engine will see 0-62mph dealt with in 9.8 seconds and carry on to 126mph.

We tested this 2.0-litre Duratorq diesel engine in 2015, and although it makes quite a loud diesel clatter when you start it up, it’s a generally quiet motorway companion. It’s certainly powerful enough to whisk the C-Max up to motorway speeds with no drama, and there’s enough oomph to overtake briskly and safely.

The diesels (there’s also an 120hp version) make for a more soothing ride on long-hauls and are right at home on Britain’s motorways.

While performance is all very well, for the majority of C-Max owners the key question is ‘yes but what will it cost me to run?’ Well, it’s no Porsche but then it’s no solar-powered green machine either. For those inclined to try, the 150hp diesel engine will return more than 60mpg, which isn’t bad, but 13mpg down on the C4 Picasso and 7mpg down on the Renault Scenic. Pairing it with Ford six-speed, PowerShift automatic drops that figure to 56.5mpg. In a surprising twist, the 118hp diesel can only manage 58.9mpg.

As for real-world figures, we managed to eke 48mpg out of the 2.0-litre 150hp diesel with the PowerShift auto gearbox on 300 miles of motorway driving with lots of stop-start traffic.

Ford C-Max petrol engines

If emissions are on your mind, then it’s worth noting that both 1.0-litre petrol engine produce CO2 of just 119g/km. Unfortunately none of the range offer the holy grail of tax-free motoring – an engine must emit less than 100g/km of CO2 for that. For running around town and city, the 1.0-litre petrol models offer nippiness and agility – ideal for a trip to the supermarket or the school-run.

The 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol is actually more similar to a sports-car engine than an MPV one, and as a result it feels and sounds racy and adds a new level of sportiness to the C-Max. The running costs are also sportscar-like, so for the best performance we’d stick to the 2.0-litre diesel.

Ford has kept things simple when it comes to specifying your C-Max. There are three trim levels to choose from – Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X. Basic Zetec models are not short on kit, they get smart-looking 16-inch alloy wheels, as well as body coloured door mirrors and bumpers. Inside the car has the latest version of Ford’s SYNC infotainment system. Other features include lumber support for the driver’s seat, electric windows and air-conditioning.

Ford C-Max Titanium

Despite the entry level model being well specced, many buyers choose to upgrade to Titanium trim. Its larger 17-inch alloy wheels and all-chrome grille distinguish it from Zetec models. Inside an eight-inch touchscreen display gives the dashboard a more modern look and families will appreciate the additional storage areas that include a covered centre cubby and overhead storage for your sunglasses – there’s also a mirror that means you can keep an eye on kids in the back. Extra kit comes in the form of climate control, plus auto lights and wipers.

Ford C-Max Titanium X

Choosing the top-of-the-range Titanium X model might not make much sense to most families, but we can’t deny it has some nice features. We particularly like the half-leather interior and the panoramic glass sunroof – both make the inside feel a good deal more premium, and although the sunroof doesn’t open, it does give the cabin a really nice airy feel that’ll cheer up the kids on a summer-holiday drive. 

It also gets an uprated infotainment system called SYNC2, which can read text messages aloud as well as letting you dictate a response on the move. Its Bi-Xenon headlights are more powerful than the standard affairs and can also follow curves in the road.


The new C-Max is stylish, though maybe not quite as stylish as the Citroen C4 Picasso. It’s fairly economical, too, but doesn’t lead the class in either emissions or fuel use.

But – and it’s a big but – it’s the best car to drive in the class, and by some margin. We lived with a C-Max for a week and would rate it as one of the best cars out there for family duties. It’s comfortable, reasonably spacious and won’t break the bank.


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