The C-MAX exemplifies this approach. Look beyond the rich list of options on our test vehicle and it is obvious that the foundations are there for an extremely practical car.
It may only be a Focus in high heels, offering little more space, it seems, than for passengers in top hats, but taking advantage of the extra height, you get a great driving position, superb all-round visibility and an airy cabin that lends itself to long, comfortable journeys.
I’ve been driving the Focus C-MAX on and off for a few weeks now and while there have been concerns expressed by other testers about faults with the car, I have been hard-pushed to spot any mechanical failings.
As a spokesman for the Consumers’ Association reportedly said recently after a survey of car reliability, not long ago it would not have dreamed of recommending a Ford, but the Focus had played a big part in improving Ford’s reputation for reliability.
The C-MAX continues this theme. Regarding the interior, nothing squeaks and nothing has fallen off or come loose – a plus for a mass-marketer like Ford with a case to prove on the quality front. There are niggles, of course, but they are few and far between. For example, the rear door takes a considerable shove to get it to fully close. Too many times, the annoying warning chime tells me it is not shut properly.
I’m also having a real problem getting anywhere near Ford’s combined mpg figure of 50.4. I’m finding it languishing in the 36.6mpg region, pretty poor compared to what it should be. I blame this thirstiness on the number of short stop-start journeys to work, but even when I did a sizeable trip of several hundred miles, being careful to watch the rev counter, the figure given still only reached the low 40s.
I have a trip to Birmingham planned for the weekend, which should improve things, but I doubt to the point of reaching the manufacturer’s official figure.
Price (OTR): £18,690 (£23,715 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 148
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer): £60 per month
Insurance group: 10E
Combined mpg: 50.4
Test mpg: 36.6
CAP Monitor residual value: £5,950/33%
HSBC contract hire rate: £370 per month
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles