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Ford B Max EcoBoost: get your dad on

I am, at the time of this article going live, 28-years-old and have no children. I do, however, listen to talk radio and tell incredibly lame jokes. And that means I’m reasonably qualified to review the Ford B Max EcoBoost: a dad car with an impressive sting in the tail.

Make no mistake, no one’s going to think you’re the coolest dad in the school-yard if you pull up in this mini-people carrier. Once you’ve explained to everyone why it’s such a “sensible” choice though, Ford’s clever 1.0l EcoBoost engine means you’ll be able to burn them as you pull off, AC/DC blaring through the sound system.

That said, there are a couple of drawbacks you should consider before going out and getting one for yourself.

Pushin’ Plain

Fortunately one of those drawbacks isn’t the B Max’s looks. And we should be grateful for that: when you’re building a compact MPV, it’s all too easy produce something completely awful-looking. The B Max is not that. Sure it’s not going to go down in history as a design classic, but it’s far from the worst thing anyone’s ever produced in the class.

The profile is smooth and the various bulges and ripples are small enough not to look desperate. Ford’s also done a good chop of ensuring that the panoramic roof blends in subtly, something which car makers don’t always manage to do.

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Once you get inside though, it becomes obvious who the B Max is aimed at. From the seat material to the cup holders and netted pockets, everything is clearly designed to be as practical as possible (to be fair, the sliding rear doors are probably a clue too).

The one notable exception to that is the fold down armrest on the driver’s side. When it’s up, your left arm feels a little lost and when it’s down, reaching the hand brake can be more than a little painful.

Clever little engine

That minor inconvenience is easily forgotten once you open up the taps on the B Max. While a 1.0l engine is never going to send you to the moon, it really is remarkable how much power Ford’s managed to eke out of it thanks its EcoBoost technology.

Importantly though, it all feels natural. Off the line, you can hit cruising speed in an amount of time that I can only describe as “just right” and overtaking is ridiculously easy. Perhaps the best part of this engine wizardry though is its effect on fuel consumption. Even driving in a manner that only the most generous would describe as economical, I managed to average around 7l/100km.

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Of course, to get that kind of driving in, you have to get out of your driveway first. And while we’re not saying that won’t happen, if it contains any kind of slope you are likely to scrape your underside. This happened to me repeatedly, even when I was the only one in the car. While I get that Ford probably sacrificed a little ground clearance so that the B Max didn’t look unduly tall, 140mm just isn’t enough for something designed to transport a whole family (unless you live in a particularly flat Western European country).

Battling to Sync

In previous reviews, I’ve waxed lyrical about Ford’s Sync system. It’s the most intuitive and easy-to-use of all the in-car infotainment systems I’ve encountered to date. That’s mostly still true for the B Max, but there are a few flies in the UX ointment. Navigating the various controls through a click wheel involves a much steeper learning curve than the touch screen interfaces found on higher-end Fords.

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And even once my phone was connected, the calls I took were nowhere near as clear as they were in the Fusion. It’s great that Ford’s trying to pack this kind of tech into a car like the B Max, but would it really have been that much more costly to stick in a touch screen?

The same is true for the rest of the tech in the B Max. While the rear park assist and prxomity sensors are great, you’ve got to wonder why Ford didn’t just put that little bit of extra effort in to ensure that the front sensors kick into action when you’re going forwards into a parking. I know we lived without all this stuff before, but it really does make things easier when you’re not sure how much distance there is between the last section of bonnet you can see and the front bumper.

The one to buy?

If you’re in the market for a compact MPV, you’ll probably battle to beat the B Max in terms of bang for buck. But you’re prepared to sacrifice sliding doors for something with a little more ground clearance, you might want to give another Ford — namely the EcoSport — a try. It retails for around the same price and, if we’re honest, looks a lot more exciting.

Ford B Max EcoBoost
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Author Bio

Stuart Thomas: Motorburn Editor
Stuart Thomas is a product of Rhodes University. Whilst completing his Bachelors in Journalism, Politics and English, he realised he was a bit of a geek, albeit one who isn't afraid of the sun. An honors in English at the same institution failed to curb this. An MA in... More

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