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Ford Grand C-Max 1.6TDCI review (2011 onwards)
Model: Ford Grand C-Max
Bodystyle: five-door MPV
Engine: 1.6-litre TDCi
Transmission: five-speed manual
GALLERY: Ford Grand C-Max
What is it?
The Ford C-Max has always been a popular choice for those buyers who need more space than a hatchback but don't want a car with the proportions of a school bus.
But for those who want something in between comes the Grand C-Max, 140mm longer, 58mm higher and packing in seven seats, a walk-through cabin and sliding doors.
Add to that the underpinnings of the next generation Ford Focus and you have a family car that is not only flexible and spacious, but great to drive too.
Where does it fit?
This is where it starts to get complicated. Ford's MPV range begins with the C-Max, a five-seater mini people carrier based on a Focus.
Put it like this, if you want a compact(ish) motor that can carry seven people with a versatile cabin that has clever seats, the Grand C-Max is the one you'll want. If you only need five seats, take the standard C-Max, and if you need acres of space look at the S-Max or Galaxy.
What does it do well?
Let's start with the on the road impressions, because this is one area where the Grand C-Max really stands out from rivals like the Renault Grand Scenic.
It is a joy to drive, with sharp steering that turns the car promptly and provides proper feedback to the driver, while the ride and handling is a perfect balance of comfort and agility. It is the best driver's car in this class by a mile.
As for the practicality stuff, there are two fold-up rear seats in the third row which provide reasonable head and leg room for adults, though you wouldn't want to travel too far. These fold down when not in use to create 719 litres of boot space.
The middle row of three seats also fold away by lifting the seat base and folding the seat forward, and with all three flattened the Grand C-Max's total boot volume rises to a wardrobe-sized 1,742 litres.
You can also remove the middle seat to make a spacious six-seater with a walkthrough cabin, perfect if mum has to come to the rescue of a kid in the back.
The sliding doors on each side are also a great addition, allowing you to load the car easily in tight parking spaces, but at the moment they don't have an automatic open and close function. This is expected to be an option soon.
All cars get air-con, alloy wheels, a digital radio, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors while the list of options include a three-pin standard plug socket for powering laptops or DVD players on the move.
What doesn't it do well?
When you're ticking the options, one to avoid is the automatic parking system. It took several attempts to get it to work on our test and you'd have been into the supermarket and out again in the time it took our car to self-park.
That aside, there is very little to fault about this car. OK, the styling isn't the most appealing, especially when you park alongside a Citroen Grand Picasso, and it is a bit pricey starting at £18,745 and rising to £23,245.
A Grand Picasso starts at £17,745 and a Grand Scenic at £16,970.
What's it like to live with?
We tested the 115hp 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine with the five-speed manual transmission, expected to be one of the biggest sellers of the range.
It's a gutsy little engine that is subdued at speed and smooth in its responses. With only two people on board it spins surprisingly well and provides ample if not quite stunning performance.
However, on steeper inclines you'll be grabbing for a lower gear as it only has 199 lb/ft of torque, though there is an overboost function which delivers an additional 10 lb/ft when you need it.
If you're going to be regularly lugging seven people around, you might like to consider the more ample performance of the 2.0 diesel or the EcoBoost petrol.
How green is it?
The 1.6 diesel comes in two power guises, 95hp or 115hp as tested. They share the same fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions: 57.7mpg combined, 64.2mpg on the motorway, 48.7mpg around town and 129g/km.
Would we buy it?
The Grand C-Max is a first foray into the small seven-seat market for Ford and it has come up with a very beguiling product.
If you only need a seven seater occasionally, want seats that slide and fold but don't want a large cumbersome motor, the Grand C-Max is perfect. The fact that is drives as well as it does means it is top of my list in the small MPV class.
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