A few days after the Paris Motor Show, we had the chance to sample the Grand C-Max, Ford's latest Euro-spec MPV destined for North American soil. Other markets around the world are ripe with these mini-minivans, but here in the States, our only C-segment MPV option is the very likable Mazda5. The long-wheelbase C-Max will drop its "Grand" nomenclature when it arrives here in North America, and the public will get its first taste of the new Ford at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.
Ford calls the C-Max's seating configuration a "five-plus-two," meaning that the interior is best suited for five passengers, and that the two rear seats are best used for small occupants. What's more, Ford offers a unique storage solution for the middle seat in the second row, allowing it to fold down and is stow underneath the bottom cushion of the rear passenger-side chair, creating a set of two captain's seats in the process (check out a video here). The rest of the C-Max interior is very much akin to what we've seen in the 2012 Focus, and we're quite impressed with the high-quality craftsmanship that FoMoCo is putting into its latest crop of cabins.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the 2012 C-Max is its hands-free liftgate. Much like a passive entry system for the driver's door, whoever has the C-Max's key fob on their person can simply wave their leg under the rear bumper, triggering two sensors that will open the liftgate. It's pretty slick, and Ford tells us that this technology will me making its way to the vast majority of the company's hatchback products.
The base powertrain in the C-Max is Ford's 2.5-liter inline-four also found in the Fusion. In its MPV home, this mill produces 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque, mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission. The upmarket engine is an all-new 1.6-liter EcoBoost inline-four, rated at 180 hp and 173 lb-ft of twist, also mated to a six-speed 'box. The C-Max is only available with front-wheel drive, and 17-inch wheels are fitted to all three trim levels – S, SE and SEL.
We're eager to get our mitts on the U.S.-spec C-Max, and we're crossing our fingers that American car buyers will be more receptive to smaller MPVs than in the past. Check out the 2012 C-Max for yourself in the gallery below, and follow the jump for the full suite of details.
• New Ford C-MAX combines a fresh new design, flexible seating configuration for seven, outstanding craftsmanship and occupant safety and advances in driving dynamics
• Ford C-MAX offers life-enhancing technologies such as SYNC® connectivity, MyFord Touch™ driver connect technology, HD Radio™ and an industry-exclusive hands-free liftgate
• A "white space" entry representing the best features of a car and minivan, the Ford C-MAX will deliver projected best-in-class fuel economy with sporty performance and handling
DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 20, 2010 – The Ford C-MAX is an all-new, affordable transportation alternative for growing, busy North American families who crave industry-first technology, flexible seating and interior space, sporty performance and best-in-class fuel economy.
"The Ford C-MAX provides still more proof of how our One Ford plan continues to deliver the high-quality, fuel-efficient products people really want," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "C-MAX is just right for customers in North America seeking stylish, flexible transportation and life-enhancing technology that comes standard."
The new C-MAX is part of Ford Motor Company's global small vehicle strategy that will deliver at least 10 vehicles – and 2 million vehicles annually – from a single C-vehicle platform by 2012.
This new compact family vehicle introduces a host of unique features including an industry-exclusive hands-free power-operated rear liftgate, versatile 5+2 seating configuration with five seats in the main cabin and two smaller seats in the third row, twin sliding doors and active park assist, an advanced new system that automatically steers the vehicle into parallel parking spaces.
Performance with fuel economy
The new C-MAX also heralds the arrival of Ford's first application of the all-new 1.6-liter EcoBoost™ I-4 engine in its North American C-class vehicles, delivering a combination of responsive performance with improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions.
Developed for global applications, the lightweight, all-aluminum 1.6-liter Ford EcoBoost engine combines high-pressure direct injection, low-inertia turbocharging and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) to achieve fuel economy results up to 20 percent better than naturally aspirated, larger-displacement gasoline engines with a similar power output. This new engine is expected to deliver the best available highway fuel economy for a seven-passenger vehicle.
The C-MAX base engine is a proven 2.5-liter iVCT I-4, optimized for small crossover application with plenty of low-end torque. Both engines are mated to Ford's 6F35 automatic six-speed transmission with a gear ratio span allowing for responsive acceleration from rest yet fuel efficiency for around-town driving and steady cruising at speed.
"The scale and flexibility of our global new C-vehicle platform enables us to develop distinct vehicles including C-MAX," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development. "It's a 'white space' vehicle here in North America – a new choice – and we believe buyers will appreciate the technology, convenience and functionality C-MAX packs into a neat package."
C-MAX has a 109.7-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 178 inches, comparatively close to the original minivans offered in North America. C-MAX delivers room for up to seven passengers or five occupants with a generous amount of cargo.
The new model will solidify its appeal to customers that value comfortable accommodation, a high seating position, versatility and a "smart-sized" package.
C-MAX has bold exterior and interior designs created using the latest evolution of Ford's kinetic design language and building on themes established in recent product introductions such as the Ford Fiesta and Focus ranges.
Maximum versatility and convenience
The seating concept and door layout for the 5+2 C-MAX was finalized after detailed research with typical family users to identify the most popular configurations.
The vehicle features twin sliding rear side doors and a clever new seat folding concept for second-row seats. The second-row seat is equipped with a unique mechanism that allows the middle seat position to fold quickly and easily under the right-hand seat, creating a handy walk-through space between the two outboard seats so passengers can easily access the third row, as well as two individual, bucket-like seats.
The second-row seats also have slide and recline functionality, adapting to multiple combinations of passenger seat positions and cargo capacity. Outboard second-row seats also have a tip-and-slide forward function for easy access to the third-row seats when the second row is used.
The third-row seats can be omitted as a delete option, for those buyers electing to forgo the 5+2 seating arrangement.
The C-MAX provides a raised "command bridge" cockpit with high-mounted gear shift and center console. The driver controls and displays incorporate available Ford SYNC® and MyFord Touch™, similar to the acclaimed layouts recently introduced in other Ford nameplates.
Dynamics and refinement
"This all-new model is set to take small crossover performance to a new level, giving drivers a class-leading combination of responsive, sporty handling, and overall refinement and quietness similar to the standard found in larger luxury vehicles," said John Davis, chief engineer for the North American C-MAX.
Key chassis technologies on C-MAX include completely new electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), optimized new designs for the Control Blade multilink rear suspension and semi-isolated front subframe and standard new torque vectoring control to further improve cornering stability and agility.
Smart technology for safety and practicality
As the first derivatives to be launched from Ford's new global C-car platform, C-MAX benefits from the introduction of an array of advanced technologies generally only found in larger, more premium vehicles.
Among these new technologies are a host of features that will add convenience and luxury for customers and their families. Key offerings include:
• Hands-free rear liftgate, an industry first: Ideal when carrying several packages, as the
C-MAX hands-free liftgate is activated by passing a leg motion under the rear bumper when the driver's key fob is in his or her pocket
• Active park assist: Helps select an appropriate parking space, calculates the trajectory and steers to properly position the vehicle. All the driver need do is operate the accelerator and brake pedals
• Speed limiter: Prevents a driver from exceeding a preset speed
• Panoramic roof: Allows for an expansive roof opening
• HD Radio™: Enables clearer radio reception with crisper sound reproduction
• Rear view camera: Enhanced visibility for safer reversing
• Intelligent Access with push-button start: The key fob unlocks C-MAX as the driver approaches, and enables key-free engine starts at the push of an instrument panel-mounted button
• Heated sideview mirrors with integrated puddle lamps: Enhance cold weather visibility
In addition, C-MAX offers popular Ford technologies and features, such as:
• Easy Fuel® (capless fuel filler): Provides a tight seal and eliminates loose-fitting or lost caps
• Sony® Audio System: Specifically tuned to C-MAX cabin acoustics for superb sound reproduction
• Ambient lighting: Accent lighting in multiple colors, illuminating footwells and cupholders to harmonize with a driver's mood
• Dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control: Maintains desired temperature setting throughout C-MAX cabin
• Sirius® Satellite Radio: Offers C-MAX driver and passengers a diverse range of radio programming choices
• Front and rear parking aid sensors: Help the driver properly position the vehicle when parking
• Navigation System: Provides intuitive touch-screen operation
Safety and security
Ford C-MAX is anticipated to be a segment safety leader, having recently been awarded a Euro NCAP five star rating by this independent safety rating organization. C-MAX achieved the highest score ever recorded for whiplash protection and excelled in both adult and child occupant safety. C-MAX offers drivers and families a full complement of standard safety features, including:
• AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control™) with curve control: Helps maintain consistent vehicle stability
• Dual front and side airbags with smart occupant sensor: Help fine-tune airbag deployment to occupant by size, weight and belt status
• First-, second- and third-row Safety Canopy® side-curtain airbags: Envelop passengers, helping to prevent head and upper body injury
• Tire Pressure Monitoring System: Notifies driver of inconsistent tire pressure
• Driver and passenger-side blind spot mirrors: Add visibility for blind spot areas
• Strong body architecture with extensive use of high-strength steels: Helps to add body strength and rigidity
INDUSTRY-FIRST, HANDS-FREE LIFTGATE FROM FORD OFFERS REAL KICK FOR CUSTOMERS WITH PACKAGES
• Ford introduces an industry-first hands-free liftgate that allows customers to quickly and easily unlock and open the rear hatch even when their hands are full
• With the key fob in the owner's possession, a gentle leg motion below the center of the rear bumper activates sensors that cue the system to unlock and raise the rear liftgate
• The hands-free liftgate will debut in the seven-passenger C-MAX crossover, being shown at the 2011 North American International Auto Show
DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 20, 2010 – Gesture or motion technology employed in today's video game systems is coming to the new seven-passenger Ford C-MAX crossover, designed with families in mind.
"In the new C-MAX, customers no longer need to set their packages down or fumble to locate their keys to open the rear hatch, especially when their hands are full," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. "The hands-free liftgate allows them to easily and quickly open the cargo area with one simple leg motion."
The hands-free liftgate debuts on the Ford C-MAX, which is being shown at the 2011 North American International Auto Show. The C-MAX can seat up to seven and is a popular model in Europe because of its clever combination of style, versatility and fuel efficiency.
Enabled by Intelligent Access with push-button start
The hands-free liftgate is enabled by Intelligent Access with push-button start. This technology allows customers to unlock and start their vehicles without ever having to take out the key. When the key fob is in their possession – kept in a pocket, coat, purse or briefcase – a simple pull on the door handle unlocks the vehicle. Once inside the vehicle, the driver simply holds down the brake pedal and presses the power button to start the vehicle.
In conjunction with the Intelligent Access system, there are two sensors located in the rear bumper. One detects the shin and the other detects the leg motion to enable the hands-free liftgate. The customer simply needs to possess the Intelligent Access key fob and gently wave his or her foot under the bumper to operate the feature.
Additionally, the liftgate height can be programmed or adjusted manually to meet specific customer needs.
"We recognize that the C-MAX customer usually has his or her hands full. Whether carrying packages while holding a young child's hand or carrying bags full of groceries, the hands-free liftgate will make their lives a whole lot easier," said Wendy King, C-MAX brand manager.
The combination of the system detecting the key fob and leg motion is necessary to unlock and open the liftgate and safeguards against any accidental opening.
"Animals running under the car, hitting a bump on the road or similar unintended gestures won't trigger the liftgate to open," said Michael Becker, systems engineer. "This is one smart feature."
As with other technology Ford has developed, the hands-free liftgate is a customer-focused solution, like SYNC® and EcoBoost™, which can be implemented in other vehicles around the globe.
"The arrival of the hands-free liftgate on the new C-MAX is just the beginning for this technology," said Kuzak. "Customers soon will see this same technology roll out across our broader portfolio of vehicles."