LITTLE BIG MINIVAN
Technical analysis: Ford B-Max
With the B-Max range, a resized version of the S-Max flagship, Ford’s Multi Activity Vehicles now come in small size, suitable for city traffic and family proof
“Go further”, Ford’s current communication strategy is clearly based on this motto, well suited for the resized version of the S-Max flagship, in view of the technical solutions adopted by Ford’s smaller minivan, the B-Max, which, alongside the company’s larger C-Max and S-Max models, makes urban driving easier, more enjoyable and efficient, even in a relatively compact size.
A common sight on our city streets from the second half of 2012, the B-Max represents a stimulating alternative to mid-range station wagons, recalling the style and design of the already popular S-Max, offering in a little more than 4 meters in length (precisely 4,08 with a width of 1,75 and a height of 1,60) a collection of technological innovations to be found normally on vehicles of a much higher class. Starting from its ingenious easy access door system, a real treat, worthy of being adopted on the company’s larger minivans and normally found on high-end vehicles from other manufacturers, which represents a real advantage over direct competitors in the same segment with a traditional door opening system.
The design of the sliding rear door imposed, during the planning stage, the elimination of the traditional central pillar (B-pillar), substituted by a general strengthening in key areas. The B-Max now has its B-pillar integrated into the doors themselves, which also meant moving the seat belt tension adjusters integrating them into the front seats. A solution normally adopted by high-end sedans, but used here to further enhance internal volume, very spacious indeed despite the vehicle’s compact dimensions. The B-Max Easy Access Door System offers premium access space, with an aperture of 1.50 meters, with both doors open, nearly twice as much as a traditional configuration, providing easy access to a spacious and refined interior, particularly appreciable near obstacles or in cramped city parking areas. Furthermore, the spacious interior guarantees an unusual loading capacity for the category, from 318 to 1386 liters with the rear seats folded flat, enhanced by the presence of a repair kit in place of the traditional donut tire (optional) making it possible to comfortably load even a bicycle.
The flat configuration of the reclining seats, contribute greatly to the interior flexibility of the B-Max, managing to accommodate even bulky parcels on its 2.35 meters long flat loading space. Quite handy when visiting, for example, the local Ikea store! The internal configuration is a fitting prelude to the high-end range of accessories offered by Ford and divided in four trim levels (Basic, Business, Titanium and Individual), complemented by premium optional upgrades. First, it is worth mentioning the voice-activated in-car connectivity system SYNC, able to access mobile phones and music players with a vocal command interfaced via Bluetooth or USB. A system borrowed from other Ford models, which can read text messages received on a smartphone or independently contact the emergency call center in case of an accident thanks to the innovative Emergency Assistance function, freely provided by Ford in over 30 countries around the world and insured for the entire life span of the vehicle.
However, the innovative Active City Stop automatic braking system is there to avoid potential collisions with vehicles ahead in the first place, stopping the B-Max in case of driver distraction. GPS Receiver, Key Free system that lets you lock and unlock the car without a key, crystal clear DAB Sony audio system and rear cameras also complete the electronic features of the B-Max, really rich for a car of this category.
Designed as a small yet flexible city-car, the extensive line-up of petrol and diesel engines fully draws from Ford’s most recent technological developments, choosing smaller engines capable nonetheless of guaranteeing adequate power in every situation.
Built using the same platform used for the Fiesta, lengthened by 11 cm and strengthened to bear a greater mass (weight ranging from 1,275 to 1,310 kg in running order, depending on the engines, all the way to 1,800 kg, when fully loaded, for all models) the B-Max can count on an extensive range of petrol and diesel engines, where the role of crown jewel falls onto the 3-cylinder 1 liter petrol engine part of the EcoBoost family, available in 100 hp configuration as well as the more powerful 120 hp, guaranteeing excellent performance, with an acceleration 0-100 km/h in 11.2 seconds and a top speed of nearly 180 km/h. This may not sound very impressive, but enough to enjoy its sound and sporty feel against a considerably reduced fuel consumption, thanks to its Start & Stop technology and the Smart Regenerative Charging system, with an average declared consumption, for both versions, in the order of 20 km / liter and 114 g / km of CO2 emissions. These are flanked by more traditional four-cylinder petrol engines, with the 90hp Duratec 1.4-liter also available with dual fuel LPG system, as well as the 105hp Ti-VCT 1.6-liter, the only version equipped with double-clutch six speed automatic transmission PowerShift, instead of the 5-speed manual transmissions available on all other engines. The only diesel engine available on this range is the turbocharged Duratorq TDCi 1.6-liter, with common rail direct injection which ensures a maximum output of 95 hp, with a torque of 21.9 kgm at just 1,750 revs / min, with particularly low fuel consumption, 25 km / liter on average, and 104 g/km of CO2 emissions. Fuel consumption and electronic vehicle management can be monitored from the on-board computer, part of the standard equipment, while driving assistance is entrusted to the dynamic traction and stability control systems, including Hill Start Assist and tire pressure control thanks to a TPMS system. Without excesses and highly rational, the vehicle’s powertrain ends, in all versions, with a classic wheel configuration, 15 and 16-inch steel or aluminum alloy wheels, fitted with 195/60 R15 and 195/55 R16 tires, and for sport tire enthusiasts the 205/45 R17 available on request.