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Romanian-made with European sales from late 2012 (1 of 2 >>>)
All-new Ford B-Max to join its subcompact Fiesta brother
With "hidden" B-pillars + sliding rear doors = wider access

Bechara Aboul-Nasr, 14 March 2012:

All-new Ford B-Max subcompact minivan: front-side view.

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 auto show.

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 future.

 Position

2013 new Ford B-Max subcompact MPV: rear-side view.

The groove where the rear doors slide blends gently and in continuity with the shoulder line and the edge of the tail light.

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 engine options.

Ford B-Max small minivan: profile view with closed doors.

Ford B-Max small minivan: profile view with open doors.

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.

 Rear access

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 to the 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 boot volume.

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 features of the B-Max  sliding rear doors (1)

Ford designer, Erika Tsubaki, demonstrates the features of the B-Max  sliding rear doors (2)

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 with them 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 position.

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 problematic.

 Interior

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).

  Continue >>>

The sliding rear doors with the moving B-pillars will also help loading bulky items through the B-Max's side 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... >>>

 

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