The small vans are among the big losers in the SUV boom. The potential of the somewhat pale charging masters shows Ford B-Max. The high roof fiesta is not as fashionable as a crossover, but it offers endless space, lots of driving fun and a unique door concept. However, this is not just an advantage.
At the well-known Swedish self-collection furniture store, you don't actually have to drive up with a small car if you want to buy more than napkins and tea lights. The Ford B-Max, which is only a good four meters long, however, turns out to be a hidden charging talent that can easily swallow even two-meter-long wall unit packages. The average mini SUV can pack up there - or not.
In terms of length and height, the Ford van doesn't differ that much from typical representatives of the small SUV segment. It is rather its unexcited appearance without off-road jewelry and robust bells and whistles that makes it look relatively pale even compared to its brother brand, Ford Ecosport. In compensation, the B-Max actually offers the inner values that the mini-SUV competition often only promises: namely a lot of space in a small traffic area. The high roof ensures a slightly raised seating position and an airy feeling of space in all seats. At the back, even adults can withstand it, thanks to the generous window areas, the entire car is bright. Small SUVs in particular are often cave-like at the back and offer much less view.
The specialty and unique feature of the B-Max are its two sliding doors in the rear, which take the fear out of getting out even in the tightest of parking spaces. The B-pillars are integrated in the portals so that they open when you open them and open up a generous door opening. Assembling baby car seats - otherwise a fiddly affair for small cars - is child's play. And even when loading bulky items, avoiding the central roof pillar helps. Nevertheless, there are disadvantages. Young children or the elderly in particular are likely to have difficulty closing the massive sliding doors. Because these, like the front portals, are unusually heavy because the supporting elements of the missing B-pillar are integrated in them. And: Accidents with side damage can quickly become relatively expensive with a B-Max. The relatively unfavorable insurance classification for fully comprehensive insurance also fits this.
Nevertheless, the bottom line of the sliding doors and the general suitability for everyday use and variability remains clearly positive. Also thanks to the neatly large trunk with its low loading edge and above all because of the foldable front passenger seat, the Ford is a practical car for all forms of freight transport. For optimal passenger transport, one would also want a sliding rear seat in addition to a closing aid for the doors.
The chassis leaves little to be desired, that there is an excellent compromise between comfort and driving pleasure for this class. Bad roads and short bumps absorb springs and dampers almost completely, although the B-Max generally appears sporty and agile. The precise steering also strengthens the agile character of the small family car. This fits perfectly with the country road, but long motorway stages can also be completed without any problems. The Ford is also doing well in the city, but the relatively large turning circle is disturbing here. This is what the small turbo petrol engine of the test car does the most for: The 170 Nm torque of the one-liter three-cylinder (74 kW / 100 PS) can let off steam even at low engine speeds. On the highway beyond the speed limit, your vehemence naturally wears off noticeably. Nevertheless, the smooth-running three-cylinder remains a pleasant companion. However, one should not expect fuel saving miracles from him: instead of the promised just under five liters, he tends to take seven to eight, and the trend is increasing rapidly at high speeds. A sixth gear for the manual transmission would have made sense here, but would also have driven up the price. With 17.500 Euro it is not small for the motorization driven anyway. Especially when you consider the low equipment in the basic "Trend" version. If you want a well-stocked model, you should at least choose the 19.700 Euro “Sync Edition” variant.
Anyone looking for a small but spacious car for the family is well served with the Ford B-Max. Seniors are likely to enjoy the slightly elevated seating position, but may find both the front and rear doors too stiff. When it comes to space, the mini-van makes optimal use of the small footprint, in this respect it is clearly superior to the average mini-SUV. And even if it cannot keep up in the fashionable sense, it is very nicely styled. (Holger Holzer / SP-X)