The Ford B-MAX brings sliding doors and the verve of the Fiesta supermini to the small MPV sector

The Ford B-MAX is a really clever small MPV which rivals models like the Vauxhall Meriva and Citroen C3 Picasso, but is a step up from supermini-MPV's like the Nissan Note or Honda Jazz. It's based on the Fiesta supermini, but with a boxier body it's more spacious inside.

The B-MAX's party piece is its sliding doors. Ford has dispensed with the B-pillar, which means when both front and rear doors are open there's a massively wide and versatile opening - fitting child seats is a cinch.

There’s more to the B-MAX than family-friendly practicality, though. Sharp handling and a smooth ride combine to make the Ford fun to drive, while the light controls and compact exterior dimensions result in excellent agility in town.

There’s a decent line-up of petrol and diesel engines, but the punchy and smooth turbocharged 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol, which is available in two power outputs, is the pick of the bunch. If you want a diesel, Ford introduced a new 1.5 TDCi in 2015 in two power outputs, and both deliver decent economy and pulling power. All cars get a slick five-speed manual gearbox, although if you want an automatic, the six-speed Powershift transmission is only available with the old 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine.

A huge part of the B-MAX’s appeal is its roomy and classily finished interior. Those sliding doors make for easy access, while decent packaging means you can seat five adults, although back seat space is a little tight. There’s also a 318-litre boot, and the back seats fold completely flat to create 1,386 litres of space.

Build quality is good, too. Everything is solidly screwed together, and there are plenty of soft touch materials. More expensive versions also benefit from upmarket gloss black trim and a silver metal finish for the ventilation and infotainment controls.

Citroen C3 Picasso vs Ford B-MAX

The model line-up is straightforward, with buyers able to choose from Studio, Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X trims. Entry-level models get a DAB radio, powered mirrors and four electric windows, while the popular Zetec adds alloys wheels, air-conditioning and a heated windscreen among other things. Step-up to the Titanium and you benefit from cruise and climate control, automatic headlamps and powerfold mirrors. The Titanium X gets all this kit, a panoramic glass roof, part leather and heated seats and keyless entry.

Our Choice 
Ford B-MAX 1.0T Zetec 125PS EcoBoost Start/Stop
4.2
4.2/5
B-MAX is fun to drive, yet is also comfortable and easy to park, too.
4.4
4.4/5
New 1.5 TDCi diesel is clean, but you'll struggle to match EcoBoost petrol's claimed MPG figures
3.9
3.9/5
Sharp lines and familiar Ford styling cues break up the B-MAX's otherwise ordinary one-box shape
4.4
4.4/5
Sliding doors are a highlight, while passenger and boot space are great for a car of this size.
4.2
4.2/5
Parts are shared with Fiesta, while B-MAX earned a five-star Euro NCAP score, but City Safety is optional

If nothing else, the Ford B-MAX has a unique selling point in the shape of those sliding doors. They make access to the back seats very easy, and are ideal if you're going to fit child seats and need to get kids in the back, too. What's more, while the boot isn't the biggest in the class, there's enough space for everything that comes with raising children.

But there's more to the B-MAX than just sliding doors. Thanks to its Fiesta underpinnings, it's enjoyable to drive, and is far more agile than its rivals. However it's also comfortable and easy to drive, while the supermini-size dimensions and high driving position mean it's pretty easy to park.

Ford's 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine is a perfect match for the B-MAX, and it delivers punchy performance even when the car is fully laden, although don't expect to get near Ford's claimed economy figures if you use the engine's full performance. The diesel is only really recommended if you intend to travel longer distances.

Last updated: 
18 Apr, 2016