• Mar 2, 2011
Ford B-Max Concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

Ford is mulling diving into the realm of mini people movers. The Ford B-Max is a compact minivan concept which rides on the same platform as the Fiesta. Its body sits 4.3-inches longer and taller than the Fiesta, and rear-seat passengers will have a much easier time getting in and out of the back seats thanks to the unique door construction.

A pair of sliding rear doors work together with the front doors to create an opening nearly five-feet wide. This is accomplished, in part, by the apparently lack of a B-pillar. However, the B-pillar is still part of the B-Max but it's integrated into the front and rear doors. When closed, they act together in the same manner as a traditional support pillar.

Once those doors are closed, you can twist the key and bring the three-cylinder, 1.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine to life. We don't have any stats on the engine, but considering it's a part of the EcoBoost family, we expect a flat torque curve and solid fuel efficiency.

While officially labeled a concept, you can bet your bottom dollar (and your top one, too) that the B-Max is headed for European showrooms very soon.




Photos copyright ©2011 Drew Phillips / AOL
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B-MAX HIGHLIGHTS FORD'S INNOVATIVE VISION FOR THE SMALL CAR MARKET

-Global reveal of the Ford B-MAX at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show
-Dramatic new door concept – with integrated B-pillar construction and twin sliding doors – is production ready, and promises unique appeal in the segment
-Benefits include outstanding access to the front and rear, unmatched convenience and flexibility, and outstanding safety
-Highly-versatile B-MAX interior combines exceptional space and practicality with the comfort and premium materials of a much larger vehicle
-Ultra-low-CO2 powertrain with state-of-the-art 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ford EcoBoost petrol engine and Auto-Start-Stop


GENEVA, March 1, 2011– Ford is unveiling its dramatic new B-MAX vehicle at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, providing an early preview of exciting innovations from Ford in the small car market.

The B-MAX has a unique new body design which eliminates the traditional B pillar and features twin rear sliding doors. This innovative format – which has already been engineered for production – promises best-in-class access to the cabin, together with unmatched convenience and flexibility.

The dynamic and stylish new B-MAX illustrates how Ford's kinetic design language can be translated to a unique new vehicle format.The innovation continues inside the cabin, where the interior offers exceptional space and versatility for such a compact vehicle. The use of high quality materials highlights the vision that small, practical cars can also be comfortable and well-equipped.

"With its highly popular S-MAX and Galaxy, and more recently the all-new C-MAX and Grand C-MAX, Ford has a proven history of bringing innovation and style to the multi-activity vehicle market," said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe.

"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."

New vision for compact vehicles

Based on Ford's global B-car platform – shared with the highly successful new Fiesta – the B-MAX is slightly more than four metres in length, the B-MAX is just 11 cm longer than the Fiesta five-door, and is 32 cm shorter than the new C-MAX.

With this highly compact footprint, the B-MAX is ideally placed to meet the fast-growing demand for downsized cars which are better suited to congested urban conditions, but without sacrificing interior space and comfort.

"With the B-MAX we set out to create a vehicle that captures the spirit of a smaller
S-MAX," said Martin Smith, Ford of Europe's executive design director. "We wanted to show that a small car could be very spacious and practical inside, while still having the sleek, dynamic appearance that has made the S-MAX so popular."

Unmatched interior versatility

With both front and rear doors open there is outstanding access to the interior, with a huge, clear aperture measuring over 1.5 metres wide. This is around twice the width offered by competitors with alternative door concepts, making it significantly easier to enter or exit the rear seats, attend to children in child seats, or load shopping.

Having folded the 60/40 split rear seats and the front passenger seat to create an extensive flat load floor, the side access is particularly convenient to load bulky items such as flat-pack furniture or even a bicycle.

With the front passenger seat folded, the interior is capable of swallowing exceptionally long loads measuring up to 2.35 metres in length.

Sitting 11cm taller than Fiesta, the B-MAX also provides extremely generous accommodation for its occupants. Drivers benefit from a higher 'command' seating position, while rear seat legroom and headroom is significantly improved.

Engineered for outstanding safety

In developing the B-MAX's unique integrated B-pillar body design for production, Ford engineers have ensured that it delivers the same outstanding levels of crash protection as Ford products with a more conventional structure.

To deliver the required performance in side impacts, the structure of both front and rear doors has been significantly strengthened – with ultra-high-strength Boron steel in key load-bearing areas – so that the door frames work together to absorb energy like a 'virtual B pillar'.

Special safety interlocks and reinforced latch mechanisms ensure that the doors remain firmly fixed to the roof and floor structure during an impact, and enable the front and rear doors to act together to protect the occupants.

When these measures are combined with other structural enhancements to the bodyshell and the latest restraint system technologies, the result is a body design which meets the highest safety standards.

Compact, sporty and stylish

The exterior design of the B-MAX shows how Ford's kinetic design language can be applied to its unique new vehicle format, creating a compact, sporty and stylish car which adds its own distinctive character to Ford's popular MAV line-up.

The vehicle's striking front-end features a bold new interpretation of Ford's signature trapezoidal grille. Other distinctive kinetic design elements include strong headlamp graphics, the muscular shoulder line with its powerful undercut, a characteristic window line with its kick-up behind the rear doors, and the prominent wheel lips.

The bold three-dimensional surfacing of the body sides helps to avoid the tall, blocky look which is common in this class of vehicle, and includes a unique new rocker treatment, with a stylish 'zig-zag' form on the rear doors.

With its distinctive window graphic, wraparound tailgate glass, and slim tail lamps split by the tailgate, the rear of the B-MAX is closely reminiscent of the S-MAX. Strong horizontal feature lines help to emphasis the vehicle's wide and confident stance.

Spacious premium interior

The cabin retains the dynamic, sporty feel of Ford's small-car interiors, but introduces the more premium character and decorative elements from the larger C-MAX.

Driver controls are based on Ford's HMI (Human Machine Interface) approach, with a large six-inch touch screen display mounted in the centre of the upper IP, above the much-acclaimed mobile-phone style integrated control panel.

The sensation of space in the interior is enhanced by a full-size panoramic glass roof, which covers the entire roof area.

Ultra-low CO2 powertrain

The B-MAX is powered by an ultra-low-CO2 powertrain, featuring a state-of-the-art three-cylinder 1.0-litre Ford EcoBoost petrol engine equipped with the Ford Auto-Start-Stop system.

This three-cylinder Ford EcoBoost represents the next addition to the global family of Ford EcoBoost engines. Like the 1.6- and 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ford EcoBoost engines, which have recently been launched in Ford's European medium and large cars, the 1.0-litre unit combines direct fuel injection, turbocharging and twin independent variable cam timing to achieve significant reductions in fuel-consumption and CO2 emissions.

Designed to replace larger conventional four-cylinder petrol engines, the three-cylinder Ford EcoBoost engine is undergoing final development prior to its production launch.

"The B-MAX demonstrates Ford's commitment to providing customers with exciting and innovative vehicles," said Stephen Odell. "We believe that the new concepts and technologies it showcases will have a major impact on the small car market."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      "While officially labeled a concept, you can bet your bottom dollar (and your top one, too) that the B-Max is headed for European showrooms very soon." - Autoblog

      Indeed it will - it's effectively a replacement for the recently departed European Fusion.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ford Fit with sliding doors?
        • 3 Years Ago
        The Fit is already pretty tall and useful inside, was supposed to be my point. I guess this would be a bit longer.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Bloke:
        I think I understand your point. As urbanization has been having a bit of a revival here in the State, I suspect that we'll start to see more of these types of vehicles down the road. For a long time it didn't make sense to have a shorter, taller car when there was a longer, shorter alternative, because the highway mileage would usually suffer. In the states, a lot of people have fairly long commutes at highway speeds (100km/hr +), and so city maneuverability and mileage were less of a concern.

        It looks like there's the start of a shift back towards centralized living and shorter commutes here, so we'll see if any of the manufacturers can build a business case for cars like this.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I think the reason Fiesta sales are slow is that it's pretty small inside, even in hatch form. The Fit does OK because it has a lot of cargo room.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ spin cycle
        "I dunno nardvark. With the Fiesta sales being slow"

        we'll see just how slow they remain if fuel prices climb to where the predictions say they will.
        • 3 Years Ago
        "The Fit is already pretty tall and useful inside"

        In Europe and Japan, the B-segment and B-segment MPV markets are distinct, as are their comparable entities in the C-segment. In America, which is only just beginning to see the B-segment opening up to any degree and where most people view anything smaller than D-segment as one-and-the-same, then the purpose of a car such as this won't be as easy to relate to.

        If you compare an Opel Corsa and Meriva back to back for a few days each, then you're more likely to understand what I mean.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I think you're right, and a big part of that is that nobody advertises city mileage, except on hybrids. That's where a Fiesta makes more sense than a Focus, but no one will ever realize that.

        It's also a big reason that people buy midsize cars because the highway mileage "isn't that much worse" than a compact, not thinking about the fact that they do a lot of "city" style driving and could be saving 20% or more on gas.
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's a B-segment MPV. The Jazz/Fit is due to get the Shuttle variant which this, along with the likes of the Toyota Ractis/Verso, Renault Modus and Vauxhall/Opel Meriva, will complete with in many international markets. It's unlikely yet to hit US shores where no B-segment MPVs exist.
      • 3 Years Ago
      the tail lights are horrible, again, as they are on Grand C-Max
      • 3 Years Ago
      Please stop making more and more high-riding vehicles.
        • 3 Years Ago
        "And I'm not really against some high-riding vehicles. I want to see the C-Max get here. But why do you need a Fiesta model too, especially when you add 4.3 inches to it, which is half the difference between a Fiesta sedan and a C-Max already."

        because some people might want an MPV but not need something the size of a C- or S-Max. I mean, yeah OK you "don't want to see more high-riding vehicles" but it's not like Ford would have done something else instead of this.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Why? They're nice. After driving a MINI for 6 years, it's nice to finally be able to see at or above the level of all the other cars.

        It really does get annoying to be the shortest one in the bunch after awhile. It's not even a criticism of the MINI itself, but more of a bitch about there being too many monster SUV's on the roads in North America.
        • 3 Years Ago
        "Bloke: You're only impressing yourself by telling us all how much you know."

        I'm not out to impress anyone. I'm simply disputing your comments and then providing a real-world series of reasons.

        "I am expressing an opinion. You might understand this since you have them too (and you spend all your time telling us how right yours are)."

        I've already said that you're entitled to an opinion but since the vehicle concerned isn't slated for North America then that opinion is a moot point - because you're refrring to two very different markets.

        "I don't want to see more high-riding vehicles. This isn't a statement that Europe doesn't have high-riding vehicles. This isn't a statement that the B-segment doesn't exist."

        What are you twittering about? I ignored your "high-riding vehicle" comment because it was pretty much meaningless. I was directing my comments about how you couldn't see a point to this car given the existence of the Fiesta and the C-Max. Well, those comments may well apply to North America where both of those vehicle segments are small and relatively indistinct. But that comment certainly doesn't apply to Europe - which is where the Geneva show is being held in case you weren't aware.

        "Seriously get over yourself. Every post of mine isn't just an opportunity for you to explain how you've mastered your ABCs."

        If you didn't express yourself like someone whose school bus was about six feet long, then neither I nor anyone else would need to.
        • 3 Years Ago
        And I'm not really against some high-riding vehicles. I want to see the C-Max get here. But why do you need a Fiesta model too, especially when you add 4.3 inches to it, which is half the difference between a Fiesta sedan and a C-Max already." - LS2LS7

        In Europe, the difference between segments A, B, C and D is very stark and highly defined, in terms of both dimensions and engine options. In both Europe and Japan, there already exists a B-segment MPV market. It isn't as large as the C-segment MPV market, but it's growing and cars like the Meriva offer space similar to a C-segment Focus hatchback in a smaller vehicle dimensionally. That helps with inner city parking, fuel economy and all the rest of it.

        Yet again, you can't relate to this kind of environment and while your questions/comments may be valid in terms of a US perspective, the fact that the car probably won't ever see the light of day in the States makes your comments moot at best.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I bought a used Mazda6 wagon for this reason...

        I keep hoping that by the time I'm ready to replace it in 5-6 years, some manufacturers will have seen the light :-(
        • 3 Years Ago
        Their existence doesn't bother me as long as there are still low-riding vehicles for me to buy.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Bloke:
        You're only impressing yourself by telling us all how much you know.

        I am expressing an opinion. You might understand this since you have them too (and you spend all your time telling us how right yours are).

        I don't want to see more high-riding vehicles.

        This isn't a statement that Europe doesn't have high-riding vehicles. This isn't a statement that the B-segment doesn't exist.

        Seriously get over yourself. Every post of mine isn't just an opportunity for you to explain how you've mastered your ABCs.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The Acura TSX Wagon isn't High riding. The Tsx's are the Only Acura's to date that Honda got right styling wise and the return of the Nihon Decent Wagons

        but of course we still have the Subaru Impreza Wagon
        • 3 Years Ago
        Like the Dodge Magnum? Maybe like the Mazda 6 wagon. Oh. Both of those are gone now.

        Maybe you mean like the Outback Wagon. No wait, that's an SUV now.

        At least we still have simple vehicles like the Dodge Neon. No, that became the high-riding Caliber.

        And I'm not really against some high-riding vehicles. I want to see the C-Max get here. But why do you need a Fiesta model too, especially when you add 4.3 inches to it, which is half the difference between a Fiesta sedan and a C-Max already.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I imagine Bloke finds it fairly funny that we don't understand how it's possible to have a B-max, C-max, Fiesta hatch and Focus hatch, but it's apparently perfectly reasonable for Ford to have the Flex, Explorer, Escape and Edge...
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looks too production ready to be just a concept. Those doors are a very cool concept.
        • 3 Years Ago
        ++

        the interior is all tooled production-grade parts. This "concept" (good lord do I hate when automakers call a pre-production car a "concept") will be sold practically unchanged, I almost guarantee it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why do they do this? If they were smart (and we know they are not) they would bring back the FALCON WAGON that got 25 mpg back in the 60's. Just think what it would get for MPG today 40 maybe?


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