Years built: 2010 to today
Bodystyles: Five-door five-and-seven seat SUV
What is it?
The second generation of the Ford C-Max has been a much more successful creation than the first. The original C-Max, launched in 2003, has basically just a taller Focus, and while it has useful cabin and boot space, it was never offered with seven seats and suffered in the comparison to multi-seat rivals. The current model is a much better car, with two distinct versions, and the sharpness of drive that comes from using the chassis of the current Focus hatchback. With family cars, and seven-seaters in particular, in big demand, the C-Max is a useful, kid-friendly car with strong residual values.
Which one should I buy?
There are two different and distinct versions of the C-Max. The first is the simply-badged C-Max, which has a tall, MPV-style body with five conventional doors and seats for five. There’s sufficient space in the back seat for three child car seats, and a big boot behind, so the C-Max will do duty for most family purposes. Added to which it’s very good to drive, thanks to that sharp, dynamic Ford Focus chassis, and not bad to look at for a tall-roof MPV (better again since the 2014 facelift which gave it a bigger grille and narrower lights).
Then there’s the Grand C-Max, which is 140mm longer, and 58mm taller, has seats for seven thanks to two folding seats in the boot and the advantage of sliding rear side doors. These are exceptionally practical, as not only do they give you unimpeded access to the rear cabin (and are especially useful when getting kids in and out of child car seats) but they’re a real boon in tight car park spaces, when it can be awkward to swing a normal door open.
While there is the option of either a 2.0-litre diesel engine with initially 140hp and latterly 150hp, most C-Maxes will come with the familiar 1.6-litre 115hp TDCI diesel, and it’s an engine that offers a good balance of performance, with the prospect of genuine 50mpg economy and low emissions. If you live in town and do most of your mileage at low speeds, away from motorways and main roads, it’s worth considering the 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol. With 125hp it’s actually a sparkling little performer, and has decent economy too — perfect for townies in search of extra seats, but who simply don’t need a diesel.
Definitely seek out Zetec or Titanium-spec models, as otherwise the cabin can just be a sea of grey and black plastic, with far too many blank buttons.
How much should I spend? Circa €17-18,000 will get you a 2014 Grand C-Max.
Here’s one we found:
2014 Ford Grand C-Max 1.6 TDCI Zetec, 32,000km, one owner, €18,995 from a main franchised dealer.
What goes wrong?
The rear lights can get damaged by rainwater or condensation getting into the lenses and they can be very expensive to replace. The cambelt replacement schedule for the diesel engines is set at 200,000km but realistically you should think about changing at around 150,000 at the latest, and make sure that any diesel engined version has decent mileage or you could be looking at exhaust particulate trap issues.
Models fitted with the optional panoramic glass roof can develop problems with the electric sun-blind, while water leaking into the front footwells is a common issue, as are rattles and poor fit for the sliding side doors of the Grand C-Max.
Automatic models, using the Powershift dual-clutch gearbox, need a major oil and fluid service every three years, while the 1.6 diesel needs to be kept topped up with very high quality oil if it’s not to suffer problems with ‘sludging-up’ in the cylinder head. A juddering clutch or high-pitched whine in first gear might mean expensive problems with the flywheel assembly. Patches of oil under the car usually mean an issue withe the driveshaft oil seal, which will need replacing.
As with any family car, make sure you check the cabin carefully for excessive wear and tear, and remember that the impressive 755-litre boot of the Grand C-Max is partially thanks to being fitted with a space-saver spare tyre. Some models only come with squirt-and-inflate repair kits. Don’t forget too that the Mazda 5 MPV is basically a C-Max with a different body, and the same sliding rear doors, and has a better reliability reputation (although the C-Max is quite a well built car itself).
And when you’ve found your choice of Ford C-Max & Grand C-Max don’t forget to get it history checked by motorcheck.ie.