More than just a big door

Ford B-Max

Ford B-Max

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Yes, the fact that the Ford B-MAX has no B-pillar at the side and a huge door aperture may have grabbed the headlines, but there’s so much more to this car than the cleverness of the way you get into it.

Sidestep that distraction and there’s a three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo engine and some very interesting cabin features to take in as well.

The big talking point might well be the doors but under the bonnet, the key story really concerns a very intriguing petrol engine. Displacing just 1.0 litre and with three tiny pistons tasked with moving you and yours down the road at a respectable clip, the turbocharged Ecoboost engine punches above its weight, managing a respectable 100 or 120PS, depending on the variant you choose.The 120PS variant manages rest to sixty in 11.2s on the way to 117mph.

The B-MAX rides on the same chassis as the Fiesta and a good deal of work has gone into making sure that body rigidity is up to par and that side impact protection is also up to Ford’s commendably high standards. Ultra-high-strength Boron steel is used in key load-bearing areas such that the door frames work together to absorb energy like a ‘virtual B pillar’.

Parking shouldn’t be a problem with an overall length of just 406cm which slots between the 395cm of a five-door Fiesta and the 436cm of a five-door Focus. With all that glass, visibility out of the vehicle is very good, Ford thankfully keeping the raked windscreen pillars to a manageable thickness.

With regard to practicality, the solution Ford’s designers have up with combines conventional, hinged front doors and rear sliding doors. This approach integrates the traditional central pillar structure into the front and rear doors, rather than forming part of the bodyshell itself, and creates a huge, clear opening - more than 1.5 metres wide. This is around twice the width offered by competitors with alternative door concepts and makes it significantly easier to enter or exit the rear seats, attend to children in child seats, or load and unload shopping. The front and rear doors can be opened completely independently, so the front or rear cabin can be accessed as required.

Despite a sales record that’s second to none, building innovation and desirability into small cars hasn’t always been a Ford forte. The Blue Oval has always got the pounds and pence side of the equation squared away and that has driven fleet sales quite agreeably but family buyers looking for something distinctive have often found pickings a bit slim. The B-MAX could well change all of that.