There was a time many of the cars in the Ford line-up were pretty grim.
Ford’s market domination here in Ireland was such that it was almost heretical to express any form of criticism of their products, especially ones which sold by the shed-load. The flawed thinking involved reasoned that because Ford was selling these things in such voluminous numbers, they had to be good. Not so.
However, the company now - broadly - makes some of the best cars there are out there. Across many market segments Ford has established itself.
No longer can Ford be pooh-poohed as simply a brilliant marketeer of ordinary cars. In actual fact, these days, it could be speculated that the opposite is very much the case, because such is the across-the-range quality of its products and engineering, it doesn’t have to be such a marketeering genius.
All of which brings us neatly along to the latest Ford offering to come our way: the C-Max Grand. In the competitive nature of the world these days it is only to be expected that if one car company hits a seam of gold with any particular product, then others will follow.
So it has come to pass that Renault’s success with its Scenic and Grand Scenic models have spawned a rake of copies of the hugely popular five and seven seat MPV models.
Ford - unsurprisingly, given the mass-market nature of the car business - has been one of them. But in fairness its C-Max model did not just take someone else’s good idea and replicate it, but it moved the concept forward with a combination of excellent engineering, fine engines and smart solutions for a variety of passenger needs.
C-Max was originally a five seater based on the Focus platform and, you’d have to admit, that’s a pretty good starting point. The concept has now gestated further and the C-Max Grand, which is the long-awaited seven seat version of the original and a very fine family car it is indeed.
Given that much of the design team’s attention was centred on accommodating two extra seats, it is not surprising that it is the rear passenger quarters that differentiate this car most from is smaller sibling. While nominally a seven seater, the C-Max Grand actually benefits from what Ford calls its’ ‘six+one’ seating arrangement. This means that the middle seat in the second row of three folds away completely to create an ‘aisle’ between the first and third rows, leaving six available seats.
If needed, it can be reconfigured quickly to a seven seater. Simple and clever.
Another feature is the sliding rear doors which are terribly handy for access and egress in tight parking spaces and whose novelty will keep kids entertained endlessly - except, of course, when you’re on the move. Also worth mentioning is the ‘auto’ function on the rear hatch which can be activated by waving your foot under the rear bumper if your hands are full. Another tick for the ‘clever’ box.
Although there is only 92 litre of luggage space with all the seats in action, that gets boosted to an impressive 1,742 litres when the second and third rows of seats are folded down and that greatly adds to overall practicality. Of course, with the many different ways you can configure the thing, it can be put to all sorts of useful purposes.
I have to confess I was not expecting an awful lot from the new 1.5 litre, 120 bhp TCDI turbodiesel powerplant, expecting it to be a touch puny for the task at hand, but was very pleasantly surprised to find myself completely wide of the mark.
Certainly if you’re carrying five or six people around all the time you might want to consider the two litre option, but I found the smaller capacity unit not only to have useful reserves of grunt, but also to be remarkably smooth and refined. It was a very pleasing thing to live with, I found.
It will propel the car to 100 kph from a standstill in under 12 seconds and top speed is over 180 kph. Not exactly startling figures, you’ll agree, but then this is not exactly supposed to be a tarmac-shredder, is it? Even so, it will still return in the region of 4.3 l/100 km (64 mpg) and with just 113 g/km of emissions, it is very tax friendly.
On the road there is little discernible difference in handling between this and the smaller C-Max and that is a very good thing.
There is no undue body roll, bags of grip and in general handling is sharp and taut. And, in terms of spec., the Titanium model tested does not leave much to be added to the wish list, although it does add nearly €4,000 to the cost, by comparison to the entry model.
A good car then - and one which I can comfortably endorse as yet another successful addition to Ford’s growing range of competitive and very user-friendly machines.
From €28,335 - €32,100 as tested.
A new 1.5 turbodiesel might appear a tad weedy for the job at hand, but it is surprisingly peppy, very economic and very smooth.
The Titanium trim version leaves little to be desired.
The Overall Verdict:
Excellent family car option.
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