Kevin Griffin, director fleet operations, Ford of Britain, said: ‘The Focus C-MAX is appealing particularly to drivers whose choice of vehicle is heavily influenced by their lifestyle as well as their business needs. The driver is not the only one happy with the Focus C-MAX. Strong resale values, low emissions and great fuel economy combine to make it the smart choice for the business.’
Our conclusion differed from his on one key point: fuel economy. None of the testers managed to get anywhere near the stunning 50.4 combined mpg figure.
Our figures range from a less-than-stunning 35mpg up to an unusual 47mpg. To be fair, the lowest figure was not long after delivery when the engine still had to loosen up, but we had expected, with over 10,000 miles on the clock, that it would have improved by now.
The 47mpg achieved by editor John Maslen was rather a blip, with everyone else getting 38mpg to 40mpg. We’ve yet to find a 2.0 TDCi engine in any car that gets close to its official combined figure.
All testers were impressed with the quality of the interior, including gadgets galore and enough pockets for everything you really need to hand in a family car.
The impressive spec of our test vehicle pushed the OTR price up from a respectable £18,690 to nearly £24,000 which, although making for a very impressive car, might push it beyond the budgets of many company drivers.
More importantly, would all this extra kit retain much of its value at de-fleeting time? Back to my own experiences in the C-MAX, I noticed a lump on the wall of the front passenger side tyre, so while it was being replaced (by ATS at a cost of £100.69 plus VAT) I used another test vehicle, which happened to be my previous test car, the Citroen Picasso 1.6 HDi 110 Expression.
It’s not as glamorous or dynamic as the C-MAX, but it certainly is a great family car – not as powerful, but with more cabin and load space, the requisite high driving position, and the ability to turn off the front airbag so my daughter could travel in front. Something that really niggled me in the C-MAX was that turning off the airbag has to be done by a garage.
But the most telling thing about my time in the C-MAX is that, rather than spend a couple of days in the Picasso and swap back into the gadget-loaded sporty C-MAX for Christmas, I chose to take the simpler Picasso for the holiday, opting for space over style.
Joerg Pfisterer, Ford of Europe brand manager for medium cars, said at the car’s launch that it was all in the name.
C for comfort, confidence and control and MAX for maximum – the level of delivery of those attributes. And I think we all agree that the C-MAX delivers on these.
However, I’d like to add a couple of attributes of the ideal family MPV that the C-MAX seems to lack.
One is cabin space (the extra height of the C-MAX does not give the perception of space, only narrowness) and value for money – even with a host of additional options, the Picasso was less than the base price of our tested C-MAX without its £5,000 worth of options.
Although gadgets are great and the C-MAX residual values are a respectable 35% (as opposed to the Picasso at 27%), it’s hard to believe a company car specced up like this will prove a wise choice at disposal.
What the team thinks -
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. 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.
FOLLOWING the rather unfortunate trend of a number of our long termers over the past year, the C-MAX endured an early trip on the back of a low-loader thanks to electronic gremlins. Soon after its arrival – with mileage barely into three figures – it suddenly refused to start. On turning over the engine, clouds of smoke billowed from the exhaust.
It soon drew a huddle of amused onlookers and eventually had the ignominious fate of being winched on to a tow truck. The technical bods at Ford discovered the problem was a loss of memory in the exhaust gas recirculation system, but they’ve cured this bout of amnesia and, since then, the C-MAX has performed in exemplary style, doing all that’s asked of it in an efficient and unfussy manner.
THE C-MAX was perfect for a two-week jaunt to Devon I recently endured – sorry, enjoyed – with the family, including two children under three. It offered flexibility, refinement, good economy, adequate boot space – just – and a great convex rear-view mirror so you can watch the kids fighting without taking your eyes off the road. I am happy to report that leather seats clean up very easily, unlike my car-sick son.
Once at our destination, the C-MAX filled a huge variety of roles, including van, bed, taxi, playground, diner, store room, fridge and ambulance (nothing serious, you’ll be glad to hear). Some may criticise the C-MAX for its lack of seven seats, but I am happy without them, because the Ford has three proper seats in the back for passengers.
Model: Ford Focus C-MAX 2.0 TDCi Ghia
Price (OTR): £18,690 (£23,715 as tested)
Final mileage: 10,812
CO2 emissions (g/km): 148
Company car tax bill (2004/5) 22% tax-payer: £60 per month
Insurance group: 1OE
Combined mpg: 50.4
Test mpg: 38.9
CAP Monitor residual value: £6,825/35%
HSBC contract hire rate: £375 per month
Final expenditure: Tyre £100.69 + VAT
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles