Ford spied on public to develop B-Max MPV
Stationed around shopping centres and schools, they secretly watched car owners strapping in children and loading up the things they had bought.
This information was then fed to a UK-based Innovation Team tasked with making the B-Max the most practical small car on the market.
The solution the team came up with was a car with no central pillars between the front and rear doors, making it much easier for people to get in and out. The central pillars are integrated into the hinged front doors and sliding rear doors so that when they are closed they form a solid, safe structure.
Ford says the B-Max is more rigid than the Fiesta on which it is based. The brand is confident of a maximum five-star Euro-NCAP safety rating when the car is tested in November.
The B-Max replaces the Fusion in Ford’s line-up, but is not a direct substitute, insists the company’s UK managing director, Mark Ovenden.
“The B-Max is an excellent example of how we can react to the changing needs of customers – it’s a more emotionally engaging car than the Fusion,” Ovenden says.
“I will admit that the Fusion could have been better in terms of style, but it had a 1 per cent market share, and most of our competitors would die for volumes like that. And it was phenomenally successful in Russia.”
According to Ovenden the ‘wow’ factor with the B-Max is the door system; “But it is also stylish, economical, luxurious and technologically advanced.
“People are making lifestyle choices to trade down to smaller cars and the B-Max is at the premium end of the small car sector.”
The B-Max will go on sale with six engines, including the three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbocharged Ecoboost petrol unit which is already mopping up 30 per cent of Ford Focus sales just a few months after launch, and a new 1.5-litre turbodiesel.
Ford is claiming class-leading fuel efficiency, up to 15 per cent better than rivals like the Vauxhall Meriva and Citroën C3 Picasso.
The B-Max is also the first mainstream European Ford to offer Sync, the company’s voice-activated connectivity system which automatically summons help from the emergency services after an accident or breakdown. It also offers an automatic emergency braking system to prevent low-speed nose-to-tail collisions in traffic.
The car goes on sale in October, with prices starting with the Studio model at £12.995.
Mid-range Zetec versions, which are expected to account for six out of 10 sales, start at £15,600.
Words by: Headline Auto