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SAFETY TO THE MAX; Ford's latest appeals to family market.

Byline: By ANDY CUNNINGHAM

WHILE Ford sales are being challenged by smaller marques, there's plenty of life left in the Blue Oval yet.

Witness the winning charm of the C-Max, which, like its bigger people carriers tablemate, the Galaxy, has evolved from the earlier cold and clinical model into a visually more appealing, family-friendly, model.

Gone is the word Focus from its title, so it's now just C-Max, with its own identity among the firm's range.

The test model was supplied in designer shade Aquarius Bluemetallic - it's a pounds 450 option - but as this 2.0-litre petrol automatic model came in the top-spec Titanium trim at pounds 18,295, you could probably get it thrown in for free.

Anatty set of spoked 17-inch alloy wheels completed the exterior appeal, with the C-Max looking the chunkiest of all midsized MPVs.

The driver gets a good view from the high seating position, and that's a safer place to be with apotent, 143bhp four-cylinder petrol unit to control.

Ford's 2.0-litre turbo diesel CV-Max engine is the crowdpuller, and here's why - the 1991cc unit can't match it for pace or performance, with TDCi bettering this petrol's payoffs of a0-62mph time of 11.2 seconds, atop speed of 119mph, and overall combined mpg of 35.3.

The 134bhp diesel's respective figures read 10.1 seconds, 122mph, and 47.9mpg. It is dearer, though - a TDCi Titanium six-speed automatic costs pounds 20,545. With the 2.0i Durashift only a four-speed automatic, transmission and gear shifts aren't quite as seamless, but the drive is just as good.

Ford supplies glue-like on-road responses in the C-Max, and that's very reassuring when you're responsible for ferrying children.

Options in the test car included adjustable pedals, which, for another pounds 100, can save a bit of ankle ache, and business users shouldn't be without the hands-free voice-control phone system at pounds 250.

The C-Max feels like a big car, so the front and rear parking sensors, another pounds 450, are very useful. But watch it, Ford - many rivals throw in rear sensors with the price.

With a large-enough hatch door opening up to a load space of 1633 litres, the C-Max can also assist with all but the big furniture in a house move.

All the standard power stuff comes with the basic Titanium kit, like auto headlights, rear-view dimmer and wipers, but you have to buy in a satnav unit, heated front seats, and electronic stability to boost handling safety.

The extras put pounds 3000 on the price, but Ford needs to make more items standard to keep the C-Max appealing.

FORD C-MAX TITANIUM

PRICE: From pounds 13,295

DRIVETRAIN: 1999cc, 143bhp fourcylinder engine, driving front wheels through six-speed manual gearbox

TOP SPEED: 119 mph

0-60MPH: 11.2 seconds

FUEL CONSUMPTION: Combined 35.3mpg

WARRANTY: Three years/60,000 miles
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 2, 2008
Words:473
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