Bechara Aboul-Nasr, 14
At 4.06 metres,
the B-Max is
11 cm longer than the Fiesta
(3.95 metres) and 32 cm shorter than the new C-MAX (4.38 metres).
With an easily recognised Ford visual identity, the
new B-Max was presented at this year's Geneva motor show (8-18 March), one
year after its concept version was also presented at the previous Geneva
Made at Ford’s Romanian
plant in Craiova, European sales of the new B-Max should start in late 2012.
Although prices, detailed
specifications, standard and
optional equipment will be known nearer to
launch date, Ford has already provided enough information to keep this model
in mind, for those who are considering this type of cars for the near
groove where the rear doors slide blends gently and in
continuity with the shoulder line and the edge of the tail
Sharing its B-platform with
the Ford Fiesta, the new B-Max joins the MPV niche of the B-segment,
also known as the subcompact, small or supermini segment, competing with
rivals such as the Opel Meriva, Citroen C3 Picasso and Renault Grand Modus.
As the letters
suggest, it fits just under the compact (C-segment, lower medium) Focus-based C-Max MPV,
below Ford's larger MPV models, the Grand C-Max, the S-Max and the Galaxy.
At 4.06 metres, the B-Max is
11 cm longer than the Fiesta five-door
(3.95 metres) and 32 cm shorter than the new C-MAX (4.38 metres). It will be
launched with four petrol
(gasoline) and three diesel
More than 1.5 metres aperture
when the doors are open.
Since some manufacturers
prefer to call their models "multi-activity
vehicle" (MAV), to differentiate them from the traditional
minivan / MPV / monospace category, we hasten to add that the B-Max is
also an MAV.
Being primarily targeted to the urban environment,
the new Ford B-Max innovates with its two sliding rear doors for easier entry or exit from the rear
seats in parking spaces, especially for
those who have a kid (or more) in the rear child seat.
Ford says that when both front and rear
doors are open, the aperture is more than 1.5 metres wide. That's thanks
apparent absence of the middle B-pillar (central
body pillars between the front and the
rear doors), to give easier movement to access or leave the rear seats, or
to load / unload luggage when the rear seats are flattened to extend the
But to be precise, the two B-pillars are
only "apparently" absent, as they are in reality integrated in the back of the hinged front doors and at the front
of the sliding rear doors.
Ford designer, Erika Tsubaki, demonstrates the
easy access to the rear space of the B-MAX, thanks to the
wide side aperture.
So, rather than being fixed as part of the bodyshell
itself, the B-pillars are fitted within the doors and they consequently move
when the car is stationary.
Hence, lateral protection
shouldn't be different from a traditional bodyshell, since the B-pillars are
always where they should be. After all, nobody drives with open doors.
Moreover, the moving B-pillar doesn't mean that opening
/ closing one of the doors will dependent on the other one on the same
side, as the front and rear
doors can be opened completely independently and the front or rear cabin
can be accessed as required. The photo shows how the door locks are fixed
in the roof and the lower sill, instead of the traditional vertical B-pillar
Ford's approach to facilitate
access to the rear seats in a small car are different from Opel's way with its also small MPV, the latest generation of the Meriva. The
European arm of the American GM company opted for what it calls the FlexDoors, the
rear-hinged rear doors of the also attractive Opel
Meriva small minivan.
However, Ford's system might win in practical
terms with its wider opening space and easier ingress / egress in tight
parking spaces, where opening the rear doors (front- or rear-hinged) can be
With a driver's seating
position at 12 cm higher than it is in the Fiesta, the B-Max seating system will include 60/40 split rear seats
which can be folded flat with what Ford calls a ‘one-hand,
one-motion’ mechanism. The front passenger seat can also be folded to
extend the flat load floor up to 2.35 metres in length (to be checked with
the standard and optional availabilities).
The sliding rear doors
with the moving B-pillars will also help loading bulky items through the
doors. An adjustable load floor in
the boot provides a flat load space when the rear seats are lowered, with
extra room underneath to hide valuable items from view...