From October 2008 issue

List price when tested: £17,845
Kerbweight: 1426kg
85% match: 1212kg
Max towing weight: 1300kg
Towball limit: 75kg
Braking 30-0mph: 11.1m

THINKING OF downsizing? If you own a large MPV, but think you could manage with something smaller and more economical, it’s worth putting the C-Max on your shopping list.

Go for a 1.6 TDCi, and you can expect fuel economy of 58.8mpg, according to official figures. Around our towing economy route, which takes in everything from motorways to town driving, we achieved 29.7mpg.

Impressively stable

The flipside to such impressive economy is modest acceleration. Even with our right foot pushing a hole in the floor the C-Max needed 19.8 seconds to pull an Avondale Dart 475-4 (MTPLM: 1150kg) from 30-60mph. Once up to speed, though, the Ford felt impressively stable.

That impression was reinforced in our lane-change test. Even on high-speed runs the C-Max dragged the caravan obediently behind. The steering was precise and the front tyres bit hard into the tarmac, making for quick but undramatic direction changes.

We weren’t sure how well the C-Max would cope with our hill-start test, but needn’t have worried. The handbrake held the outfit reliably and we pulled to the top of the 1-in-10 slope without fuss, both going forwards and in reverse.

More fun than most MPVs

So the C-Max makes a decent towcar. What’s it like to live with the rest of the time? More fun than most compact MPVs, we can tell you. It’s agile and entertaining on a country road. The suspension is firm enough to keep body movements in check without being uncomfortable.

In the cabin, there’s enough head and legroom to make the Ford a practical choice and good boot space, too. However, some rivals such as the Citroën C4 Picasso show more ingenuity in the way their seats move and fold.

We say
Towing: 4/5
Solo: 4/5
Practicality: 4/5
Buying & owning: 4/5

Verdict: 4/5. Steady acceleration aside, the C-Max 1.6 TDCi makes a fine tug.

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