We're expanding our brands of motoring and now welcome the American brand Ford to our pages. As you know by now I was invited by Ford last week to the their Go Further exhibition last week in Sandton, it was a showcase on what the next year held for the company in terms of strengthening their brand in Africa with various partnerships and initiatives as well as releasing new models to the market, one of which being the B-Max which I got to drive the next day as part of the official launch of the vehicle.
Ford say that the B-Max falls in a unique segment known as the "B-Mav" with the only car that could be called a competitor being the Toyota Avanza. In theory I think both cars serve a different purpose and whilst the Avanza might be seen as a cheaper alternate to most MPV's, the B-Max has that sense of luxury to it. The design is nothing out of the ordinary from Ford with it borrowing style lines from the Fiesta and Kuga. The key talking point about this car is no doubt the door system with conventional swing doors at the front and sliding doors for the rear passenger and eliminating the need for a B Pillar. Ford say that safety has not been comprised as a mixture of high strength and mild strength steel reinforcing has been built into the doors, helping the car achieve a 5 star N Cap rating.
Now one of the main reasons for the doors being like this is to allow easy entry and exit to the cabin through a 1,5m wide unobstructed opening as well as help load bulky packages into the car but it is flawed in a way seeing that the back seats cannot slide back with only the option of moving the front seats forward. That being said with the 60/40 seating layout, both the rear seats of the car and the front passenger seat can be folded down to increase loading capacity for objects as long as 2.34m. That is impressive to say the least, that kind of thing will come handy to us guys on the coasts who own surfboards and kayaks.
The car is an everyday lifestyle vehicle and after the short presentation it was time to find out what it was like on the busy roads of Johannesburg. The organisers were kind enough to wait till traffic died down before sending us on our route which was roughly 100km. There are 3 models in the B-Max all of which come with their award winning 1.0 EcoBoost Engine, which I might add coped well with the demands of the car. It's a sizable vehicle but when power was required, there was no sense of lag and having to down change the manual gear box. The ride is solid and while there was no place to test the handling of the car, one feels you wouldn't really need to.
On the inside, the interior is very comfy and very driver friendly, all models come with Fords SYNC systems which connects to your smart phone via Bluetooth relatively pain free and you can do it while the vehicle is in motion. Yes, I know this could be seen as a safety hazard but often when cruising around at 20km at a parking lot, this would come handy having not being forced to pull over to the side and connect. Once connected you can view you phone book contacts and music files on the tiny screen that's provided in the dash, still can't fathom why they sticking with a screen that most smart phones are bigger than now. Hopefully this will change in time to come.
Overall the car is a decent buy, its well priced too with it starting at R221,000.00 for the entry level Ambiente to R271,000.00 for the range topping Titanim. The car will be sold with a 4 year / 120,000km comprehensive warranty with a 60,000km service plan. It's the perfect lifestyle vehicle offering the buyer the flexibility for whatever use they may need it for, it's something different and should be a great option for small families. The B-Max is only available with a manual gear box for now with plans to bring down an automatic gearbox later on should their be a demand.