THE small MPV market is coming under increasing pressure from the crossover sector with some car manufacturers going as far as withdrawing completely from the segment as sales diminish.
Ford certainly feels there is life left in MPVs as the C-MAX, based on the Focus, continues to be popular with family drivers.
It has been a success for the company ever since it was introduced back in 2003 with a second generation model arriving during 2011 and last year it went under the knife to bring it up to date.
Fresh styling, new engines and the latest tech were introduced to keep it fresh for the challenge.
The C-MAX offers five seats while the Grand version I tried can take seven passengers.
As the name suggests, the Grand C-MAX is a bigger, more practical version of the standard C-MAX and features sliding rear doors and loads of handy features as well as the two extra seats which are best suited to children.
The Grand C-MAX sits below the brand's larger and more stylish S-MAX but costs considerably less to buy and still provides the seven seat option.
As it is based on the Focus, it is fun to drive and is surprisingly agile for an MPV.
It cruises without fuss on the motorway and even although it is softer than the normal C-MAX it is still good enough to tackle twisting country roads with ease.
The steering is sharp and accurate and the suspension copes well with all surfaces and smoothes out bumps and lumps.
Three trim levels are available Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X and the test car came in mid-range Titanium guise.
It offers lots of equipment including 17-inch 15-spoke alloy wheels, fog lights, automatic headlights with LED day running lights, rain sensing wipers, a quickclear heated windscreen, rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and cruise control with a speed limiter.
In addition you get an eight-inch touchscreen with DAB radio and CD which includes Bluetooth and emergency assistance, full seat adjustment, an overhead consule with stowage for sunglasses and ambient courtesy lighting.
A navigation system can be added for £300 and the test car also came with a winter pack at £25 which heats the front seats and steering wheel
The C-MAX features all the latest electronic safety gear and also comes with a tyre pressure warning system and hill start assist. A driver assistance pack at £550 adds active city stop, lane departure warning, lane keeping aid, traffic sign recognition and auto high beam.
A convenience pack costing £275 offered active park assist and front parking sensors.
On the engine front there is plenty to choose from in both petrol and diesel - includingFord'saward-winning 1.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost power plant.
This car came with the 118bhp 1.5-litre diesel unit mated to a nice six-speed manual box which is not surprisingly the biggest seller.
I found this combination to be ideal for the Grand C-MAX. It packs bags of punch and reaches 62mph in 12.3 seconds and has a top speed of 112mph. It is also very frugal with a claimed combined figure of 64.2mpg - I averaged just over 50mpg.