By now you have probably looked at the photograph on this page and wondered how a fat Fiesta made it into Leisure Wheels. We have to admit that the B-Max is an interesting take on a B-Segment vehicle. It offers something different for more or less the same price as a Citroën C4 Cactus, Renault Captur and Ford’s own EcoSport.
The difference is that the B-Max has zero off-road aspirations, but then again, so do many compact crossovers. What we have here, then, is the option of choosing between style and practicality, which is an interesting proposition.
At some point in the near future, a potential buyer is going to walk into a Ford dealership and be faced with three Fiesta-based vehicles to choose from – a standard Fiesta, a pumped-up quasi off-road Fiesta, known as the EcoSport, and a practical Fiesta with fancy sliding rear doors called the B-Max.
I’ve driven all three types of Fiesta and my favourite is the EcoSport, for obvious reasons, but I must admit that the B-Max makes a good case for itself. Those sliding rear doors are an excellent feature, especially if you happen to have kids around the house. But the news isn’t all rosy, I’m afraid.
I have extensive experience in loading child seats in and out of cars, and I could tell by just looking at the B-Max, with those doors, that it would be a hassle to fit a child seat.
The secret to fitting one is having as much access as possible to the back of the seat. The EcoSport has fairly large rear doors, which give you easy access to the seat back and seatbelt, or the Isofix anchors, depending on which set-up you use. With the B-Max, there’s a nice 1,5m opening but there’s no easy way to get to the seatback and seatbelt, because there’s a massive chunk of door in the way.
I’ll concede that I’m in an unusual situation, having to anchor the child seat into a different car every week, but the task is something to keep in mind if you regularly have to move the child seat between vehicles. Once it’s in the B-Max, however, there are absolutely no problems in loading or unloading a child. And imagine how much easier life in general would be with sliding doors in the car. If you live in one of the older parts of Johannesburg or Cape Town, you will know how tight certain parking spaces can be.
In terms of space, there’s little difference between the B-Max and the EcoSport. In fact, the EcoSport has a bigger boot which, along with its normal doors, makes it a more practical proposition. You also get a full-size spare with the EcoSport while the B-Max offers no more than a tyre fixing kit.
One area where the B-Max stands head and shoulders above the EcoSport is in interior quality. The B-Max is more upmarket and the top-specification Titanium model comes with every conceivable standard feature one could hope for, including rain sensing wipers and keyless entry. Even the base model comes with all the usual comfort and convenience items, including Ford’s stellar Sync infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and electric windows all round.
In terms of safety, the B-Max is right up there. It scored the full five stars from Euro NCAP, with a 92% score for adult occupants and 84% for children.
One also cannot fault the 1,0-litre EcoBoost engine, which is a masterpiece of modern powertrain engineering. It packs a nice 92kW/170Nm punch, is claimed to use only 4,9l/100km on the combined cycle and, as an added bonus, it sounds lovely. This little engine certainly deserves every one of its four consecutive Engine of the Year awards.
The B-Max has a lot of things going for it and I can see it becoming a beloved companion to hundreds of young SA families. But the same is true of the EcoSport!
I’d recommend that those interested in a Fiesta-based car do their homework properly and then decide on which model best suits their needs. In any case, you will end up with a car that’s at the top of its game.
B-Max 1,0 EcoBoost Ambiente – R221 900
B-Max 1,0 EcoBoost Trend – R246 900
B-Max 1,0 EcoBoost Titanium – R271 900