Review: Ford’s clever C-MAX works its magic on all the family

The Ford Grand C-MAX is a flexible seven seater
The Ford Grand C-MAX is a flexible seven seater

Ford C-Max and Grand C-Max

And so this is C-Max, and a Happy New Year, with five seats or seven, and room in the rear.

I couldn’t believe my ears last week when I walked by Carroll’s gift shop in Dublin’s city centre to hear the Christmas songs blasting from the speakers outside.

But, for once, this Motormouth Scrooge decided to get in to the spirit and take a trip across the border to get some early shopping in.

Luckily enough for me, I had pencilled in the new Ford Grand C-Max to ferry family, friends and the mother-in-law on our annual Griswolds trip up North. 

The new Ford C-Max and Grand C-Max arrived in Ireland in July, and the multi-activity vehicle (MAV) as it is known, comes with upgrades in all departments.

Available in both five- and seven-seat versions, this new flexible Ford is definitely one for outdoor-loving families.

Both models now come with Ford’s new 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engine and it is also available with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine.

The 1.5-litre diesel replaces the 1.6-litre diesel in the outgoing model, and comes in either 95 or the higher-powered 120bhp guise, which would be the pick of the bunch for us.

There is also a 2.0-litre TDCi available, but believe us, the 1.5-diesel is all you will ever need. Both versions of the 1.5-litre diesel come with a 12 per cent improvement in CO2 emissions, and now fall in to tax band A4 (€200 a year).

We were both very impressed with the new C-Max, and it can certainly hold itself up there with the best of them.

However, we both agreed that the five-seat version doesn’t make much sense to us (see panel), and the seven-seat version is the only one to go for.

Both models come in two guises – Zetec and Titanium. The C-Max Zetec comes with 16-inch alloys, front fogs lights, quick-clear windscreen, SYNC 1, air conditioning, privacy glass, leather steering wheel, driver seat lumbar adjust, MyKey entry and power front windows.

Grand C-Max Zetec adds rear sensors, power-fold mirrors, and a third row of seats. The C-Max Titanium model includes 17-inch alloys, cruise control, chrome door line, LED daytime running lights, dual-zone climate control, power-rear windows, centre armrest, keyless start, ambient lighting, auto lights and wipers and scuff plates.

Grand C-Max Titanium adds rear sensors, power-fold mirrors, a third row of seats and roof rails.

I got behind the wheel of the Grand C-Max Titanium model last week and I was very impressed, although I found the boot space extremely small when third-rows are used – there was just enough room for a couple of the smaller shopping bags.

But the Grand C-Max is flexible. So much so that the second row can either be set up as two single seats with an airplane-like aisle in the middle so the kids can cut through, or can be a three-seater when the middle part, which folds neatly under either single seat, is unfolded in to the bench position.

I did find I had to put the three children in the second row and dump the mother-in-law in the third row with one seat folded down just to accommodate all the shopping they bought.

But everyone was happy, and none more so than the kids who set all their gear up on the tables that pop up from the back of the driver and passenger seats.

On the road, the Grand C-Max was excellent to drive. With every weather element thrown at me on my journey up, it never put a foot wrong.

I cruised the motorway at 100kph all the way due to the surface water on the roads, and was really appreciative of the adaptive cruise control slowing me down automatically when I could hardly see the road in front of me.

This is just another string to Ford’s bow that they now have some of the latest driver-assistance technologies fitted on board the C-Max and Grand C-Max.

Overall, the revised model is well up there with the best of them.

It is keenly priced at €25,755 for the entry-level five-seater but, as mentioned, this model is best avoided.

We recommend you dig a little deeper and pay the €2,600 premium for the seven-seater; in our opinion it’s money well spent.

Panel: The Grand version is the one to go for says Paul Keown

THIS year I became a member of the people carrier club. It’s something I never thought – or hoped – I’d have to say.

It turns out though, I was blinded by my love of sports cars and didn’t appreciate the practicality of family motoring.

Having two little ones means clambering in and out of rear seats can be a nuisance – but not when you have sliding rear doors. 

And this is my point about the five-seat C-Max. For the extra €2,600, you get two more seats (or more boot space when seats aren’t used), sliding rear doors, and you don’t have to book any more chiropractor appointments.

The Grand C-Max is a much better family car; we don’t see the point of choosing a C-Max over a Focus – you only gain headroom.

The Grand C-Max is the winner, and it’s brilliant to have the extra room when all the friends pile in, too.

Model: Ford Grand C-MAX 1.5 TDCi
Price: From €28,355 (€36,640 test car) 
Tax Band: A4 (€200 per year) 
Fuel Economy: 4.4 litres/100km (claimed)
Top speed: 180kph
0-100km/h:  12.3 seconds
Boot space: 65 litres (7 seats) 448 litres (5 seats) 1,715 litres (seats folded)