Ford C-Max gets an A

The middle aisle (above) makes the compact C-Max (left) roomier than most MPVs its size.
The middle aisle makes the compact C-Max (above) roomier than most MPVs its size. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
The middle aisle (above) makes the compact C-Max (left) roomier than most MPVs its size.
The middle aisle (above) makes the compact C-Max roomier than most MPVs its size. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Ford's compact MPV is a decent family carriage with features found in a luxury car

The C-Max is Ford's first compact MPV and it is as peachy at the helm as the other Fords which have come our way recently.

Which is good news for driving enthusiasts who need to have an MPV.

About the size of a Toyota Wish, the people-mover is powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged four- cylinder that makes 150bhp and 240Nm of torque from 1,600rpm.

Those numbers are fairly impressive for such a small power plant. But it is the way they are delivered that takes your breath away.

From the moment you flick its leather-wrapped six-speed transmission lever to D and tap on the throttle, you get a level of spontaneity and linearity that is way above the Ford's station.

  • FORD C-MAX TITANIUM

    Price: $129,888 with COE

    Engine: 1,498cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

    Power: 150bhp at 6,000rpm

    Torque: 240Nm at 1,600-4,000rpm

    Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch with manual override

    0-100kmh: 10.5 seconds

    Top speed: 199kmh

    Fuel consumption: 6.8 litres/100km

    Agent: Regent Motors

If you had earplugs on, you might even think it had electric propulsion. This makes the MPV a joy to drive and makes it seem much faster than it is.

Ford says the C-Max clocks a 10.5-second century sprint. But at the wheel, you are convinced it is at least two seconds faster.

On top of a linearity that Tesla would approve of, you get a car that is superbly insulated against vibration. This is refreshing, since you would normally not expect such superior insulation in a compact MPV.

There are many other things in the C-Max you would not expect, such as adaptive cruise control, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps with a self-levelling function, automated parking, collision warning, a panoramic glass roof, motorised tailgate and tyre pressure monitor.

These are features you would find in a luxury car - not a carrier targeted at young families.

As a family vehicle, the C-Max is not too shoddy either, even if it seats six instead of seven. Although the second-row seats are fairly easy to flip over (they can also be laid flat with a one-two action), you do not need to manoeuvre them to get in and out of the last. This is because of a middle aisle, which is functional in more ways than one. For instance, you can stow long items in it. And when unused, it makes the compact C-Max roomier than most MPVs its size.

Its elf-size seats in the third row are surprisingly comfy. Extend the headrests all the way up and they will accommodate 1.7m-tall adults without too much trouble.

Like most modern Fords, the C-Max has a chassis tuned for a seemingly impossible blend of ride and handling. The car goes over humps and nastily repaved tarmac with almost as much grace as a limousine with air suspension.

Yet, it holds up relatively well against cornering forces and feels planted at high speeds. You would be hard put to find another compact MPV that feels this way in the driver's seat. In this case, the Ford's excellent ride benefits those occupying the other seats too.

The car is not without shortcomings, though. Its cargo-carrying capacity is below par. When the last row of seats is occupied, you get a measly strip of space that will not accommodate anything more than two or three umbrellas.

You can, of course, fold the last row of seats (individually) if they are not in use.

There is also a faint and intermittent whistling noise coming from somewhere near the left rear window. Lastly, it is not what you would call a good-looking car.

But with such a well-sorted and well-equipped car, these shortcomings are minor and easily forgiven.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2016, with the headline 'C-Max gets an A'. Print Edition | Subscribe