Ford took a while to enter the smaller MPV market, but when it did so in 2012 with the Fiesta-based B-Max, it developed an innovative concept of construction that meant it had no B-pillars with its doors open, leading to huge openings on either side of the vehicle. Ideal for a practical machine like the B-Max, but it was killed off in 2017 as Ford decided to focus instead on its more lucrative crossovers, such as the EcoSport – meaning the B-Max was a true one-off.
There’s just one body for the B-Max, which is a five-door, monobox MPV. Looking very much like a shrunken C-Max, the B-Max’s clever pillarless construction was possible because of a ‘hoop’ of reinforced steel running laterally along each side of the car, incorporating the sills, the roof and the front/rear windscreen pillars. This allowed for conventional front-hinged leading doors and then a pair of rear-ward sliding back doors, creating a large, 1.5-metre-wide aperture into which it was easy to load child seats and, indeed, children. And other paraphernalia, too. Behind the seats was a boot that started at 318 litres and could rise to 1,386 litres with the rear bench folded, this operation creating a completely flat load-bay floor too. Up front, the B-Max had a similar dashboard to a contemporary Fiesta or Focus, while the engine choices were impressive too – mainly because it was one of the first Fords to debut the company’s 1.0-litre, three-cylinder ‘EcoBoost’ turbocharged petrol engine. We only officially got this engine in 100hp trim here, but you may find some 120hp derivatives on the used market as imports from the UK. Alongside this, there were 90hp 1.4 and 105hp 1.6-litre Duratec four-cylinder petrols (without turbos), plus two diesels. Initially, this was a 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCi with 97hp, but this was replaced later in the B-Max’s life by a 1.5-litre TDCi, which came in either 75- or 95hp guises. Transmission were a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, and all B-Max models were front-wheel drive – and, unusually for any car in the modern era, the B-Max was never facelifted during its lifespan, so it looked the same when it went out of production in 2017 as it did when it launched in 2012.
The EcoBoost is lovely but it’s better as a 120hp model than the 100hp version, and the 120 is hard to find in Ireland. Therefore, a later 95hp 1.5 TDCi is the sensible choice.
Ford B-Max 1.5 TDCi
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Maximum speed: 174km/h
0-100km/h: 13.0 seconds
Fuel consumption: 4.0 litres/100km
• Huge opening doors
• Lovely EcoBoost engine
• Surprisingly sweet to drive
• Some interior plastics questionable
• Archaic infotainment
• Gutless non-turbo petrols
The Ford B-Max is a car that slipped quietly out of production with little fanfare, but actually its passing should have been more keenly felt. Innovative and perfectly fit-for-purpose, the B-Max is genuinely a far nicer ownership proposition than the EcoSport, the very vehicle that killed the mini-MPV off, and it makes a cracking second-hand purchase for a young family that doesn’t need unnecessary acres of cabin space and a large road footprint to boot.