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LEAD: Motoring: Drives for a classy clan

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FORD B-MAX TITANIUM

I am not sure where or how Ford came up with the concept or rather the name of ‘B-Max’ for this vehicle, but my kids could not stop comparing it to Baymax from the movie Big Hero 6. To be quite honest, there is no comparison between a marshmallow balloon-type robot with artificial intelligence and Ford’s latest mid-segment offering, but I can’t help being amused by how the new generation assimilates things with similar names.

So what makes this new entrant to the market different to what we have had in the past? To start, I guess it’s the looks. This vehicle has been modelled off the infamous Ford Fiesta, which in its latest guise has taken a fair chunk of the market. The headlights and bonnet have the same look; however, the grill and front bumper don’t look as sporty as those of the Fiesta. The bonnet is also shorter and seems more raked, which is where the exterior comparison between these two stops. The B-Max has a large, steeply raked windscreen and a rather high roofline. This gives it an almost van look. The van look is completed from the side view, including sliding rear doors, which have not always made sense to me; that is, until now.

The rear end is the least impressive side to look at as it looks like a stretched-out version of a hatchback. The forward-sweeping tail lights blend well into the rear door tracks and are placed rather high. This attempts to make the vehicle not looking as high as it actually is.

Open the front doors, and you’re welcomed to a roomy interior and leather seats, which are standard on the titanium model and add a bit of luxury. Access is an absolute synch, no matter your height. This is thanks to the high roof height and the seats being mounted higher as well. The leather-bound steering wheel is sporty and enjoyable to use. The dash layout is typical Ford, with the centre section having a small screen that is flanked by angular air vents. The infotainment command system takes some getting used to but is fairly simple to use. Sitting in the driver’s seat, you feel wrapped around by the dashboard and seats, giving you a sense of safety.

The large glass roof lid is revealed by manually pulling back the blinds, but this is not the best system in use today. Getting into the rear is even easier thanks to the sliding rear doors. This is especially useful if you have smaller kids. The dearth of space caused by normal rear doors is lacking, so you have full access to the rear seats. This makes it easier to fit in the seats and buckle the kids in. The luggage space is decent for a car this size, but if you need to load, simply drop the rear seats. If need be, the front passenger seat also folds flat to reveal a huge cargo area, which came in handy during my test.

The best part about this car, though, is its ease to drive and park. As it is not longer than the normal hatchback, it does not feel big. The 1,0-litre Ecoboost motor has ample power, especially in the titanium model where it produces a chunky 92 kW. This may not sound like a lot, but it’s enough for you to use the car in the city at ease as well as on the long road. Thanks to the new engine technology, the vehicle literally moves on fumes, if driven well. On the road, it drives well and manages to corner at decent speeds without feeling top heavy.

All in all, I think this new model from Ford will change the mindset of small families from station wagons and vans to the B-Max. So, in a way it is changing the way we see the future –kind of like Baymax in the movie. A definite winner in my books.

SPECIFICATIONS

Engine:1,0 ℓ  3-cylinder EcoBoost
Power:92 kW
Torque:170 Nm
0–100 km/h:11.2 Seconds
Fuel:Average 4,9  ℓ /100 km
CO2:114 g/km
Price:From R238 900

AUTHOR | Torque Talk is a member of SAGMJ