Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Maxi Prizewinner

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Maxi Prizewinner

Article excerpt

Not the least intriguing aspect of the compact-MPV Focus C-MAX is the fact that it has the same chassis as the about-to-arrive next-generation Focus, thereby giving us a peep into what we can expect.

Two very different vehicles, agreed, but it seems that Ford has again raised the bar in terms of small-car driveability. You don't expect an MPV to handle like this, but the suspension set-up deserves prizes.

The front is independent with MacPherson struts, rebound springs, anti-roll bar and gas-filled dampers; at the rear, the Control Blade multi-link system gives all the security you could want and makes Ford confident enough to offer a stability programme only as an option.

Not only the driver appreciates the qualities, which are enhanced by the taut build. The C-MAX, tallish in the MPV style, is wonderfully smooth and stable, even through challenging bends. No rolling about here.

The cabin is also very calm. Noise suppression from the engine bay is excellent and there's virtually no sound off the road. Even those notorious drumming concrete surfaces had little effect.

Get on a motorway and all the attributes combine to create the impression of being in a car a couple of grades up. The two-litre turbodiesel engine in the test car contributed to this, rich in pull and acceleration and pretty effortless.

It was teamed with a six-speed manual transmission, although the lower gears rarely came into play. Consequently, you get a lot of miles to the gallon, very appealing in the light of current pump prices.

Generally, then, a rewarding car to drive, apart from the electronic handbrake which appears at Ghia trim. It's the sort of thing that works well in an automatic, but with manual transmission it sows doubts.

Of course, the absence of a handbrake lever does open up the car's interior for other things and at Ghia and Zetec level you also get Ford's Comfort Seat system. …

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