By Mike Torpey on 2017-08-05 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Ford B-MAX 1.0
EVER felt you've needed the dexterity of a contortionist to extricate yourself from the rear seats of a car, especially when that model happens to be a three-door?
It's those bumps that are so annoying - a tap of the ankle, knock of the knee, crack on the head and the dreaded hip twist followed by an awkward landing between pavement and kerb.
The answer, obvious as it may seem is sliding doors, and while they aren't exactly new, they haven't always been used to maximum effect.
Ford's B-MAX multi activity vehicle, based on the Fiesta but longer and taller, was a mould breaker when it hit the small car scene just over four years ago and has gone on to prove a massive hit with families both young and old.
It's trump card is something Ford calls the Easy Access Door System, different to its rivals in that it doesn't have a centre door pillar.
The front doors open in the traditional way but the rear ones slide back into a groove, leaving a vast side opening.
It's clever and practical. Those days of awkward manoeuvring for a mum trying to secure a child seat are well and truly over.
In fact folding down the front passenger seat provides an ideal perch for facing the toddler and securing the belts.
By the same token, if an elderly passenger needs back bench access it's a simple case of stepping in or out.
And if you are concerned that this set-up may compromise safety, fear not, because the B-MAX was awarded the highest possible safety rating by independent crash test authority Euro NCAP.
For what is essentially a small car, even though there's plenty of interior space with ample head and legroom for four adults and a child, the load combinations are exceptional.
During a trip to the DIY outlet we folded down the seats and arranged a pair of 7ft flat packs, three large square boxes, a skateboard, a lawnmower and some oddments - and still closed all the doors properly.
While a choice of 1.0, 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol engines plus a 1.5-litre TDCi diesel are up for grabs in a choice of three trim grades, Ford has also introduced a trio of B-MAX Zetec Colour Editions.
These models come exclusively with a more powerful 140ps version of the 1.0 EcoBoost petrol unit, yet still capable of returning an official 56.5 miles per gallon.
And key features also include the likes of 16-inch black alloy wheels, a black painted contrast roof and mirrors, a high gloss black front aerofoil and a rear spoiler.
Otherwise there's plenty of standard kit in a car that's a joy to drive - lively, well balanced, comfortable and very cleverly designed. It's a quality performer.
Ford B-MAX 1.0 EcoBoost Zetec
Mechanical: 140ps, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 122mph
0-62mph: 10.3 seconds
Combined MPG: 56.5
Insurance Group: 12
C02 emissions: 118g/km
Bik rating: 20%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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