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8 Nov, 2019 1:15pm Richard Dredge
A full used buyer’s guide on the Ford B-MAX covering the B-MAX Mk1 (2012-2017)
Ford has a long history of giving buyers what they want: affordable cars, a wide model range and plenty of practicality.
While the firm has often been reluctant to take risks, sometimes it does something a bit more adventurous; and that was the case in 2012 when it unveiled the Fiesta-based B-MAX. Flushed with the success of its C-MAX and S-MAX, Ford pushed the boundaries with its smallest MPV yet, which stood out from the crowd thanks to its sliding rear doors and the complete lack of B-pillars.
The result was a car that was incredibly easy to get in and out of, good to drive and decent value for money. Despite these strengths, the B-MAX wasn’t a great success, but it can still represent a shrewd used buy.
- Ford B-MAX Mk1 (2012-2017) – Small MPV wasn’t a great sales hit, but can be a good choice for families.
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The first cars were delivered in September 2012. Buyers could pick from Studio, Zetec and Titanium trims, while there were three petrol engines (99bhp or 119bhp 1.0T, 89bhp 1.4, 104bhp 1.6) and two diesels (74bhp 1.5 TDCi, 94bhp 1.6 TDCi). The B-MAX cost from £12,995 for the 1.4 Studio, and topped out at £18,895 for the 1.6 TDCi Titanium edition.
For the next seven years Ford did little to update the B-MAX, with the engine and trim line-up staying much the same. Some higher-spec models were introduced later on, including the Titanium X (featuring a panoramic glass roof and privacy glass) and the Titanium Navigator (with standard sat-nav). Kit levels were also tweaked, with most cars gaining extra equipment as time went on, but that was the extent of any changes.
Ford B-MAX reviews
Which one should I buy?
We’d go for the turbo engines (1.0 petrol, 1.5 or 1.6 diesel) because they have more punch than the alternatives. The 1.4 is fine if you’re in no hurry, while severe juddering has affected some versions equipped with the PowerShift auto, so buy with care.
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On balance we’d opt for a 1.0 in Zetec form or higher. The entry-level B-MAX Studio is spartan, yet has powered windows front and rear, remote central locking and a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake. Zetec brings 15-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, air-con, DAB radio, an alarm, Bluetooth, plus improved interior lighting.
Titanium adds better infotainment, cruise control, driver’s seat lumbar adjustment, climate control, auto headlights and wipers, heated front seats plus 16-inch wheels.
Alternatives to the Ford B-MAX
Perhaps the biggest rival to the B-MAX is the Honda Jazz, which doesn’t have sliding rear doors (none of these alternatives do), but gets cinema-style rear seats, the bases of which flip up, offering a level of flexibility that is different from but comparable to that provided by the B-MAX’s sliding doors. The Jazz also has a strong reputation for reliability, and was offered with a hybrid powertrain until 2015.
The Vauxhall Meriva is relatively plentiful, spacious and features a rear-hinged back door for easier access. Prices are reasonable, the range is wide and the quality is good. More budget options are the Kia Venga and its cousin, the Hyundai ix20, which are well made, relatively unusual and good value.
What to look for
Misfuelling shouldn’t be an issue because the B-MAX comes with Ford’s Easy-Fuel system to prevent the wrong fuel being used.
Those sliding rear doors are heavy. If the car is parked facing downhill they can shut themselves, which is a possible worry for parents.
PowerShift automatic transmission can judder, and long-term remedies can be elusive. Ford has faced legal woes in America over this problem.
Problems with the electrics are the most common issues. Check the electric windows, powered mirrors and heated windscreen all work.
Much of the B-MAX’s interior is shared with the Fiesta so it’s well made, easy to use (if a touch over-designed in places) and comfortable. Access is unrivalled thanks to the sliding doors, and practicality is boosted by an adjustable boot floor and a fold-flat front passenger seat. But the luggage capacity is disappointing; it’s just 318 litres, which expands to 1,386 litres with the back seat folded.
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You can buy a nearly new Ford B-MAX for between £5,990 and £11,995 on our sister site BuyaCar.
All models need to be serviced every 12,500 miles or annually. The schedule runs minor, intermediate, major, priced at £179, £215 and £299 respectively. Cars over three years old are eligible for discounted ‘Motorcraft’ maintenance, which sees oil and filters changed for £159.
Other parts cost extra, including brake fluid (every two years at £50) and coolant (every 10 years, also £50). All engines have a cambelt that costs around £500 to replace; the intervals for this range from eight years or 100,000 miles, to 10 years or 150,000 miles.
Impressively, the B-MAX hasn’t been the subject of any official recalls. Yet while all official recalls are listed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and are in the public domain, makers can also issue TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) for their cars, and these aren’t listed publicly. This information is available only to dealers, and concerns non-safety-critical problems.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
The B-MAX didn’t appear in our Driver Power 2019 used car survey, but finished 45th out of 100 cars in 2018, which is a respectable performance. The Ford came mid-table for just about everything, including interior and comfort, practicality and reliability. The only noteworthy scores were a 29th place for fuel economy and running costs, and 74th for infotainment and connectivity.
When you use the Fiesta as your start point it’s hard to get things too badly wrong, and while the B-MAX never set the sales charts alight, that’s not because it was a bad car, just one that was widely misunderstood. It’s great for small families because it’s compact, cheap to run, good to drive and well equipped if you buy towards the top of the range. We named the B-MAX Best Five-Seat MPV in our 2013 New Car Awards, and its appeal hasn’t diminished since then. Considering the small sector the B-MAX sits in, and despite its low profile, there are more used cars to pick from than you might expect, and it’s still worth taking one on.