If ever a concept car was just a thinly disguised production car, this is it – this is the Ford B-Max, just unveiled on the eve of the 2011 Geneva motor show.
So the Ford B-Max concept is a Fiesta MPV?
That’s right, and when the B-Max goes on sale in early 2012 it’ll finally be time to bid goodbye to the bland Fusion. On the outside the styling is the latest iteration of Ford’s ‘kinetic design’ DNA, and mixes S-Max, C-Max, Focus and Fiesta elements to create a decent looking little MPV. It even manages to look good despite the metallic brown paint – Ford calls the hue Burnished Glow.
Because it daren’t copy the Vauxhall Meriva’s suicide doors the B-Max concept features a set of twin sliding rear doors, just like the Grand C-Max. But unlike the Grand C-Max, the B-Max does away with the B-pillars to aid ingress and egress. You know the design is destined for production because Ford waxes lyrical about how it’s engineered the new structure to be as safe as its other products – there’s ultra-high-strength Boron steel in key load-bearing areas, and specially reinforced latches to keep the doors in place during an impact, for instance.
‘Many concept cars have featured pillarless body designs before, but this time it’s for real,’ explained Ford of Europe’s executive design director Martin Smith. ‘The Ford B-Max shows how this new format can deliver unmatched practicality, but still achieve outstanding safety as well. Our Iosis Max design study demonstrated the advantages that a pillarless door format can offer the MAV-style vehicle – the B-Max takes this idea to the next level, with a production-ready solution that is neatly integrated into the overall vehicle design.’
What about the interior?
Inside it’s much like a Fiesta, only with more space (particularly in the back), and the concept features higher quality materials. The panoramic glass roof also heightens the sense of space, while the rear seats fold 60:40 and the front passenger seat folds too. The B-Max is much like the Fiesta under the skin too – it’s built on the same underpinnings, Ford’s global B-car platform. The B-Max is 11cm taller than a Fiesta and 11cm longer, but 32cm shorter than a C-Max.
Under the bonnet is Ford’s latest Ecoboost engine, a turbocharged and direct-injected 1.0-litre triple first previewed in the Start concept at the Beijing Motor Show in 2010. CAR has spied it being tested in the C-Max, and it will definitely power the Fiesta and B-Max. In the B-Max concept the three-cylinder engine is mated to Ford’s six-speed, dual-clutch Powershift transmission and a stop/start system.
‘Ford has a proven history of bringing innovation and style to the multi-activity vehicle market,’ said Ford of Europe chairman and CEO Stephen Odell. ‘The new B-Max signals that Ford is ready to bring the same bold thinking to the small car market. With its unique door format and dynamic design, the B-Max sends a strong message that customers looking for a compact, stylish and versatile vehicle will soon have an exciting new choice.’
The Ford B-Max will go on sale in early 2012. This article originally appeared in CAR magazine.