Seven-seat MPVs aren’t usually chosen for their style, with design that majors on space rather than slinkiness. But, even with its rather boxy shape, the Grand C-Max is still a reasonably smart-looking thing. The front end echoes the design of other Ford models, with narrow headlamps and a wide grille that are similar to those you’ll find on the Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo. All versions get alloy wheels and front fog lights as standard, while Titanium trim has LED daytime running lights, and Titanium X cars have full xenon headlamps.
The seats are very supportive and have lots of adjustment
Sitting inside the Grand C-Max is a very pleasant experience. The materials and finishes on display look and feel refreshingly plush, plusher than they are in most of Ford’s other models, which is interesting when some of those models are newer and more expensive. The seats are very supportive and have lots of adjustment, and with big windows all-round, the view out is very clear indeed. The dashboard is reasonably simple and intuitive to use, as is the touch-screen infotainment system that’s standard on all but the entry-level trim.
Compare the Grand C-Max with other seven-seat MPVs, and you might be a little disappointed by its practicality. Yes, the second row of seats can slide, recline and be folded down and away in a variety of configurations, but the middle seat of the three is narrow and hard, making life rather uncomfortable for whoever sits on it. The two rearmost seats, which fold up from the boot floor, are very tight on both headroom and legroom, so they’re only suitable for small children, and even then, only occasionally. To make matters worse, getting in and out of the rearmost seats is very difficult due to the tight space you have to clamber through, and that’s despite the fact that the Grand comes with sliding rear doors as standard. What’s more, having all seven chairs in place is pretty catastrophic for boot space, but the volume is pretty generous when you’re travelling five-up.
Ride and handling
With MPVs, practicality is usually more important to owners than the way the car drives. However, if the latter is just as important to you as the former, then the Grand C-Max is one of the most dynamically polished cars in the class. The handling is exceptionally good compared with other MPVs, thanks to strong grip, tight body control and sharp, predictable responses from the steering wheel, gearshift and pedals. The ride was also remarkably cosseting on the smooth Spanish roads of our test route, but we’ll have to wait until the car faces the sterner test of some battered British blacktop before we can say for sure how comfortable it is. However, if it’s as good as the previous version was, which we suspect it will be, then there’ll be no problem.
With a generous slice of low-down torque, it gives brisk, flexible acceleration
So far, we’ve only had the chance to drive one of the engines available in the Grand C-Max, the 2.0-litre diesel with 148bhp. With a generous slice of low-down torque, it gives brisk, flexible acceleration, and its refinement is pretty impressive, too, staying smooth and quiet at all times. With excellent suppression of wind- and road noise, the rest of the car stays just as quiet. The engine is also pretty strong on economy, but not as strong as the engine that’ll prove most popular with buyers, the 118bhp 1.5 diesel. This will make the C-Max cheaper to buy as well as cheaper to run, and we can’t wait to try it: if it turns out to be as flexible and refined as the bigger engines, it’ll be very tempting indeed. Petrol engines are also available, 1.0-litre turbos with 99bhp or 123bhp.
The Grand C-Max isn’t especially cheap to buy, but you should be able to negotiate a sizeable discount from your Ford dealer when you buy. You’ll need to, because resale values aren’t expected to be particularly strong, and a discount will help limit your depreciation losses. The news is much better on fuel economy, because all the engines have very competitive figures compared with the equivalent engines in rival MPVs. The same goes for CO2 emissions, making the Grand C-Max affordable to run as a company car.
Ford isn’t always praised all that highly for reliability, but the brand is currently riding high in the manufacturer standing of Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index. The C-Max has also achieved a pretty good score as an individual model, and the Grand C-Max is included in that score. The three-year/60,000-mile warranty is rather average compared with the arrangements that some rival manufacturers offer, but you can extend your cover to four or five years for a small one-off fee.
Clever kit is available through the options list, systems such as autonomous city braking
As you’d expect from a family car, the C-Max comes with a variety of airbags to protect you and your family in a smash, and a stability control system to help you avoid having one in the first place. It also comes with a few other desirable safety bits as standard, such as a hill-start assistant, tyre-pressure monitoring and the MyKey system (if you have grown-up children who drive the car, they can have their own key onto which you can pre-program maximum values for things like speed limit and stereo volume). Plenty more clever kit is available through the options list, including autonomous city braking and lane departure aids, as well as a parking assistant that’ll steer into, and out of, a space for you, while sensors watch your back for approaching traffic. These options are very affordable, but it’s perhaps a little disappointing that the autonomous braking doesn’t come as standard. The Grand C-Max hasn’t yet been crash-tested by Euro NCAP.
Zetec trim is the entry point to the Grand C-Max range, and comes with most of what you need, including a DAB radio, powered front windows, Bluetooth and air-con, but we reckon it’s worth upgrading to Titanium trim for its climate control, powered rear windows, cruise control, reversing sensors, automatic lights and wipers, and voice-controlled touch-screen infotainment system. Titanium X cars look pretty pricey, but they do come with niceties including part-leather upholstery, heated front seats and a panoramic sunroof.
If you’re after the cleverest, roomiest and most versatile seven-seat MPV, you should certainly look elsewhere. If, however, you want one of the best MPVs to drive, and you only need its seven-seat functionality (very) occasionally, you could do a lot worse than the Grand C-Max.